Set off the shores of the sunny and sumptuous Dominican Republic awaits a tiny yet characterful island you’re going to love. Known to some by its official name, Cayo Levantado, and to others as Bacardi Island, this little corner of paradise is one of the most beloved islets of Samana Bay.
That bay, in the sunny seaside town of Samana, is a comfortable six kilometres from the island, which makes a boat trip and a day spent on its beaches amid its rainforests a must. A 50-foot boat runs a daily service to and from the island for 300 Dominican Pesos – just over a fiver. It’s a real bargain, and a great way to see an island so idyllic that Bacardi Rum used its palm-tree-lined shores in advertising years ago, leading to the island’s beloved nickname today.
If Bacardi Island has beaches so good they’re used to advertise a worldwide brand, it stands to reason they’re gorgeous enough that you’ll want to check them out during your holiday. Prepare to be bowled over, but also expect some peace and quiet. Bacardi Island is little more than three square kilometres in size, and of its three beaches, only one is reserved for guests of its local hotel, Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado.
Luckily, the main public beach Playa Grande lives up to its bombastic name. It’s tucked away at the northern fringes of Bacardi Island, and boasts that classic white-gold sand and shimmering clear blue water that so defines the beaches of The Caribbean.
Natural beauty is a mainstay here, with towering palm trees that waft in the open air and brilliant sun that streams down as you recline on the comforting warm sand. That said, Playa Grande also ensures that there are plenty of amenities to savour. For one thing, you can expect cocktails galore and a few choice cool beers to be the mainstay of local little bars peppered along the beach, as well as at the handful of nearby restaurants. There are few things more Instagram worthy than the notion of sipping cola and Bacardi on Bacardi Island.
Playa Grande also boasts restaurants like Bacardi Seafood Restaurant, which as the name suggests, brings the fresh catch of the day straight to your plate after some lovingly local preparation. Explore the coast further and you’ll find pop-up shops packed with locally created souvenirs, meaning that taking a little slice of paradise home is oh-so-easy, and often pretty cheap.
A whale of a time
Reclining on the beach, you’d be forgiven for assuming that serenity is all there is to experience, but don’t be surprised if you see people clustering right at the water’s edge as splashes in the distance drift to your ears on the wind. That’s because Bacardi Island’s location in Samana Bay makes it top territory for humpback whales to swim, breech and play. These massive, majestic mammals are often seen by the shore, so it’s easy to get a photograph of them during your stay.
The water off the coast of Bacardi Island acts as a nursery and breeding ground for humpback whales every year between January and March. That makes for a lovely added bonus to those of you seeking some winter sun or a new year, new you approach.
Of course, you needn’t appreciate the whales from the distance of the beach alone. Boat trips out from Bacardi Island into the azure sea get you up close with the whales, as well as pods of dolphins. You’ll be able to fill your photo album with plenty of photos of these beautiful creatures of the deep.
Feel rewarded for exploring
It can be oh-so tantalising to simply lay down your towel on Bacardi Island’s beach and call it a day – and quite a relaxing and refreshing day that’d be if it’s your preference. Yet if you’re curious about the exotic flora and tropical fauna, beyond the beaches are lush rainforests where secret trails have been carved out by those in the know. And above those leafy canopies, tropical birds of every description flutter on high.
The majority of Bacardi Island is public access, meaning that you have the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in a practically unspoilt natural realm. If you’re not one for venturing off the beaten track, the island is kept in fantastic condition along its more frequented pathways. You can expect neat hedges, aligned trees garlanding avenues, and expertly tended gardens edging the patchwork of pathways woven through Bacardi Island’s heart.
The whole island is treated, rightfully, as a giant natural park where people and plantlife cohabit in peace. And to see a Caribbean island as those who discovered them way-back-then would have in all their luscious beauty, the more rugged rainforests and lush vegetation await.
Special mention must definitely be given for Bacardi Island’s underwater wonders. Colourful coral reefs and shipwrecks from almost every era make exploration beneath the surface a joy, and that’s before we get to the colourful fish and gently drifting turtles you’ll likely meet. Scuba and diving classes or equipment hire on the island are fairly priced, and the local experts are able to assist in any level of diving expertise, so don’t worry if you’re a beginner.
Whether it’s a full week’s holiday or a day trip out from the rest of your adventures in the Dominican Republic, Bacardi Island is sure to become a beloved memory of golden sunshine days and tropical treats. Check out our Dominican Republic deals and don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information.