“ Samana International Airport, Dominican Republic / Samana International Airport, also known as Aeropuerto Internacional Presidente Juan Bosch, opened its doors on November 6, 2006 and is the smallest airport in the country. „
To celebrate my birthday I had a holiday in Samana, Dominican Republic, during January 2011. One of the gateways I have flied between the UK and Dominican Republic was Samana International Airport.
Brief information about Samana International Airport:
Samana International Airport, also known as Aeropuerto Internacional Presidente Juan Bosch, opened its doors on November 6, 2006 and is the smallest airport in the country. The airport is located near the small village of El Catey, about 8 km west of Sanchez at the base of the mountain on the peninsula of Cape Samana. It takes roughly 30 minutes drive to Las Terrenas, 40 minutes drive to the provincial capital, Santa Barbara de Samaná, and approximately 1 hour drive to Las Galeras.
There are one runway and one terminal in the airport. The runway is 3000 m x 45 m and the flexible pavement is designed to accommodate large aircraft like a Boeing 747. The terminal can simultaneously accommodate four, with a maximum capacity of 600 passengers per hour.
On 19 January 2011 my plane arrived on Samana International Airport. It didn't take too long to get the arriving hall. That is a simple white building without any difference from most small airports in the world. Inside the arriving hall all passengers were on a long queue for the custom check. First we stopped at a counter to buy the tourist card that was $10 per person. Then two custom staff members were waiting in the end of the queue to scan the tourist card. Behind them there were a few custom counters where I had my passport checked. Because I'm a Chinese passport holder I was enquired by a staff member for a while and finally got the entrance to the country.
Walking a short distance I arrived at the luggage area where our luggage was already there. Surprisingly before we left we were requested to pass our luggage and handbags on the safety belt to check again. Then a porter took the advantage to get our luggage and pushed it to our coach outside. After receiving his tips he left us quickly.
That's all I had with Samana International Airport. To be honest I was not impressed on their efficiency. I can't say they were not friendly, but I didn't feel welcomed either.
On 27 January 2011 my coach took me back to Samana International Airport and just stopped in front of the Departure hall. There were a few porters were waiting for job although the distance between my coach and the check in counter was just one minute walk distance. I think there is no need for porters if your luggage is not heavy. However if you do please don't forget to give them some tips.
When I passed my passport and ticket to the airport staff, same story happened again. He was not sure if I could leave without the visa of Dominican Republic. Then I had to explain to him again and finally got the permit to leave the country. Without asking me the staff had chosen the seat for me and pointed me the counter where I should pay the Departure fee that is £20 per person. Then I was in a short queue to pay the fee.
I was thinking to walk around for a while before leaving the hall, but I found there was nothing to see, even no chair to sit. And the airport staff members seemed more than passengers. So I decided to pass the custom check. Two staff members were collecting passenger information card that should be stamped with the departure tax paid sign. The safety check area even smaller and only one staff worked there. I asked him a question but unfortunately he didn't understand my English. After that a female staff member checked my passport and same things happened in third times. She even asked me a British residential card that nobody has in the UK. Then I had to explain the visa policy to her again.
There is a small duty free shop inside the waiting area. You can buy local products such as rum, cigar, coffee, t-shirt and cups, etc; you can also buy some well-know branded chocolate and perfume. Generally speaking the local products are cheaper than you can get in the UK. I bought two bottles of 1l Bacardi Rum Gold and paid $ 26 USD and I found at Sainsbury's in the UK I just can get one bottle of 750ml Bacardi Rum Gold for the same money. However not all things were affordable like that.
There is a snack bar where you can buy some fast food like sandwich, chips, fried chicken, etc. I had my simple lunch and I found the food taste was not bad, but the choice was limited and the price was higher than Gatwick airport or Beijing airport.
The airport is air conditioned and the waiting area is non-smoking. The ceiling is high and the decoration is full of tropical characters. There is Wi-Fi network, but it's only available for VIP passengers. The toilet facilities were clean and big enough considering the small airport. The broadcast was easy to understand and was on time to announce boarding information. Last but not least bear in mind the only accepted currency is American dollar at Samana International Airport.
That's my current experience at Samana International Airport. I supposed it would be my last experience too. I don't think I would fly to Samana for for humpback whale watching again in my life. However I would like to say my holiday in Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado was very enjoyable, and Samana International Airport did its job very well.
My reviews are also posted under Blossom S. For more pictures pls visit my blog I want to see the world: http://blossom-iwanttoseetheworld.blogspot.com/