Mystery of the Bridges Of Samana

22 March, 2014

The Bridges of Samaná are three bridges built between two small islands in the bay of Samaná, and the mainland just outside of the town of Samaná (also, but less commonly knows as Santa Bàrbara)

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Where Do the Bridges of Samana Go?

There are multiple theories as to how they got there, some believe it has to do with drug cartels, but the most widely accepted theory has to do with Joaquín Balaguer, president for most of the 60’s and 70’s  investing in the area hoping for it to be the next tourism hub on the island.

It seems the plan was to have pedestrian bridges connecting the islands, and leading to a restaurant on the last one.

Only the shell of the restaurant remains:

part of the shell of the "restaurant" now serves as a lookout point

part of the shell of the “restaurant” now serves as a lookout point

While it’s a great spot for gazing across the beautiful bay over at the North shore of the south side of the island…. not much of Balaguer’s plan still stands.

It seems none of the construction has been touched since his presidential term ended in ’78, and it doesn’t really seem like it was ever finished either.

A catamaran glides lazily, framed by early 70's modern architecture

A catamaran glides lazily in the distance, framed by early 70’s modern architecture

Samaná, in fact, never took off as a tourism hub. Not that the area is lacking in eye candy, quite on the contrary, the nature surrounding the area is some of the most gorgeous that can be found around the island, AND it’s centrally located as far as the rest of the Samaná peninsula goes…

The real mystery behind the bridges of Samaná isn’t where they go, it’s why they don’t go anywhere. Why is there nothing on those islands? Why is Samaná so “boring?”

Well, there is this one all inclusive resort, Bahia Principe – through which you have to walk if you’d like to get to the bridges – and it kind of sucks up all the tourism. All-inclusive tourists are brought, through SAFE transportation to SAFE (and very disingenuous) parts of town, where they can buy SAFE (and tacky) souvenirs, before being SAFELY transported back to their SAFE haven for that evening’s game of poolside bingo. I’m not even joking, about any of this.

There’s a sign at the entrance of the bridges advising tourists that the resort takes no responsibility for what happens beyond this point, if they BRAVELY choose to venture out to the desert islands.

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ooooooooo. scary!!

You better stay in your beach chair, where all is safe!

a lonely beach chair, as seen from the top of the ridiculously over-the-top and pointless elevator from the pool area to the beach area

a lonely beach chair, as seen from the top of the ridiculously over-the-top and pointless elevator from the pool  to the beach

Are the bridges unsafe?

Well, like I said, seems the upkeep hasn’t been done since 1978, so the concrete is falling apart a little, but other than that, NO.

Sure, I’d leave my valuables at home, just in case, just as I would going anywhere strange I haven’t yet ventured to.

One tourists warns travelers from crossing the bridges because they were “followed” and while I do believe such things can happen (anywhere, not just here) we found the locals in Samaná to be generally very kind and helpful.

We ran into some locals fishing

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We ran into some locals having a good time

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We walked all the way to the end of the islands, and in fact, the most interesting thing we found… you’re never going to believe this… were the locals….

Yeah, I know. Insane!!

We found them so much more interesting, in fact, than the people wasting their time playing dice on the resort beach, that we chilled all afternoon with them while they enjoyed themselves jumping off the piers, creating memories.

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Spread the love.

For the love of god, if you feel like crossing the bridges, cross the bridges.

And if you feel like visiting the town, visit the town. Go to the market (not the one they put on on saturdays and wheel bus-loads of tourists to, the real market, the one where the resort buys all its fruits and veggies from) Get yourself a Batida at the stand at one of the corners of the traffic circles and people watch for things you’ll NEVER see back home.

Go to a local restaurant and get yourself some comida typica. Get out of the all-inclusive and stay at the backpacker hostel and meet other interesting travelers.

The thing that makes the town of Samaná so boring is the tourists who go there, and that’s what makes it seemingly unsafe too, because the least visitors care about the culture of an area, and the people who create it, the least those people, in return, care about the tourists. The more two groups of people alienate each other, the more likely it is for friction to occur. So please, help the town of Samaná become the tourist hub Balaguer envisioned, as it deserves to be, do your part and invest in the LOCAL community with your well spent money and your curiosity. Don’t let the giant boring Spanish resort suck up the town’s economic (and natural) resources.

I’ll leave you with a pretty pelican trying to get his daily meal.

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1 comment

  1. Pingback: Backpacker Hostel Samaná - We Travel and Blog

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