45-minute taxi from Samana airport, plus a 10- to 15-minute ferry
The D.R.’s only luxury resort set on its own island, the Luxury Bahia Cayo Levantado offers a relaxing atmosphere for couples and families. There are scenic beaches, beautiful pools, and some of the best rooms in the country (each with private Jacuzzi tubs). The beauty is incredible, but the dining and service lag behind even less expensive resorts.
Romantic weekenders who go to bed after early-evening cocktails.
The vibe here is quiet and calming. Seniors and a few families visit from Europe or Canada, as with so many D.R. resorts. Lounging at the Bahia pool, a beautiful winding grotto, the only sounds that can be heard are the pool filter, the gentle wisps of palm trees, and the occasional bird splashing down into the water. The pulse here is relaxed, so relaxed that some guests find it boring. All of the bars shut down by midnight.
Before sunset, guests gather on the terrace for coffee or cocktails. The fountain bubbles, the sun sets, and a professional cigar roller sets up a table to twist personal cigars. Welcome to the Dominican Republic -- you've made it.
A 15-minute boat ride from Samana, which is already fairly remote.
Cayo Levantado is located on its own private island off the Samana Peninsula. Getting to the resort is a hassle. From the Samana airport (El Catey International Airport), it’s a 45-minute cab ride to the Bahia ferry station. (Parking is available at the station.) From there, it’s a 10- to 15-minute ferry ride to Cayo Levantado. In lieu of the ferry, you can also hire a private panga boat to take you from Samana, which will likely be a bumpy, wet ride.
The Samana Peninsula is located on the east end of the Dominican Republic. The main town of Samana is popular with cruise ships. The Samana Peninsula is seen as one of the less developed and more serene tourist areas of the Dominican Republic, home to some of the country's best beaches. However, it's also common to see armed guards at the hotels here, which can be a bit off-putting.
The rooms at Cayo Levantado are among the nicest in the Dominican Republic, overshadowed only by those of the more expensive Casa Colonial boutique in Puerto Plata. Large is the first word that comes to mind. The sizable flat-screen TV looks puny when watching from the bed, way across the room. The rooms come with a comfortable, king-size four-post bed with nice sheets and a firm mattress. With wicker furniture in the sitting area, the rooms strive for a clean, Caribbean feel.
Every room comes with a huge balcony -- they’re almost bigger than the rooms. A modest dinner party could fit, but someone would need to bring a table: They’re only furnished with two chairs and two chaise lounges. The main drawback? They’re not entirely private -- the balcony on the adjacent room shares the space.
The mini-fridge has the typical Dominican Republic all-inclusive drinks -- two beers, two sodas, and two bottles of water -- as well as a small can of Pringles and nips of vodka and scotch.
Just in case your own island isn't quite secluded enough for you...Numerous private villas dot the lush grounds near the beaches. Some have indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, which are ideal for honeymooners.
A small island paradise, although paradise shuts down a bit early here.
There are two gorgeous pools on-site, one by the beach and one closer to the main resort area. Both have bars nearby and plenty of lounge chairs, and both are exceptionally clean. The snack bar at the beach pool has a basic buffet with hot dogs, hamburgers, rice, salad, and selected entrees.
Free Internet is available in the lobby -- a rarity in the Dominican Republic. There’s no Internet in the rooms, though.
The bars shut down by midnight, and there's nowhere on the resort to buy booze. Yes, the room fridges have some alcohol (two nips) and two beers, but this can really annoy some guests. Many choose to dance the night away at the outdoor discotheque on Bacardi Beach. A live band on the beach and dancing on the sand in the open air may make up for the lack of intoxicants.
No need to stray from the surprisingly good buffet.
There are seven on-site restaurants and bars altogether. The on-site buffet was surprisingly good, but the sit-down restaurants aren't hidden gems and, in this case, the right choice is stear clear of them. At the buffet, I had some good chicken fajitas, roasted pork, and pizza. There was a solid selection of cheese and crackers, various salads, and numerous vegetarian options. Servers at the buffet were always very attentive and friendly.
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