Q: When is whale watching season in the Dominican Republic, and what's the best way to get there?
-- T. Rhodes, Mississauga
A: Coastal areas around Samana are the hub for humpback whale-watching in the Dominican Republic. The seasonis now through March.
Air Canada and WestJet currently have non-stop flights from Toronto to Samana International Airport. Air Canada's direct Toronto-Samana service is year-round departing on Sundays.
The region is considered the D.R.'s best-kept secret due to its incredible diversity and beautiful uncrowded beaches. In addition to the fabulous whale watching, Samana is home to the Los Haitises National Park and boasts the world's largest coconut plantation. For travel information, see godominicanrepublic.com. .
Q: I've heard about a new train from Quebec City to Charlevoix, Que. How often does it run?
-- T. Chu, Scarborough
A: On winter weekends, Le Massif de Charlevoix will operate two different scenic full-day rail trips departing outside of Quebec City. The "Excursion to the Mountain" run is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. It departs from Parc de La Chute-Montmorency Station at 8 a.m. and returns at 6:15 p.m. The train stops at the base of Le Massif, where you can snowboard, ski and rodel (a type of sled on skis) before reboarding the train for the trip back.
The "Baie Saint Paul Discovery" train offers a scenic ride in refurbished railcars. The train passes La Malbaie and Petite-Riviere-Saint-Francois en route to Baie-Saint-Paul, where you can hit the shops, bistros and cafes, or stay over at Hotel La Ferme. Winter service runs tto April 7. For details, call Le Massif de Charlevoix toll-free at 1-877-536-2774.