From Santo Domingo it is about a two-hour drive, past small roadside villages and banana plantations, and then you’ll find yourself in a place completely different from the one you just came from.
A stay at Cayo Levantado will bring a feeling of peace and tranquillity to anyone staying at this stunning Caribbean island in Samana.
Samana is, in most ways, still very old-fashioned, authentic and uncomplicated. Here you will find absolutely no towering skyscrapers. Even trivialities of the modern city life are hard to find. Just brightly painted houses, lush hills, cocoa palm trees, locals on their motoconchos, and beaches… miles and miles of endless and glorious beaches with equally glorious waters.
A trip with a modest boat takes you from Samana town to an even more tantalizing place by the name of Cayo Levantado. While the US travelers still descend upon the resort area of Punta Cana, the flurry of European and Canadian travelers that have long frequented the Dominican Republic consider Samana the place to be. It is their little own slice of unspoiled heaven. And especially Cayo Levantado, they wouldn’t mind keeping for themselves.
But what is it that makes Cayo Levantado so irresistible? It is not the extraordinary beauty of the island. For sure, it’s pretty, certainly; but from a boat, the island looks like any other island in the Caribbean: astonishing green with a coast made of alternating water-chiseled cliffs and silky white, sandy beaches. Nor is it the warm and shallow waters either. So crystal one can easily spot a flesh-colored sand dollar at the bottom Gentle waves lapping endlessly and ever so invitingly. Nor is it the Bacardi Beach, whose soft sandy shore is dotted with tall, swaying cocoa palm trees, draws day trippers by the numbers aboard small boats and passenger catamarans from the peninsula.
Actually, Cayo Levantado’s unmistakable appeal does not come from its aesthetics but more from the feeling of remoteness it conveys. Save for a golf cart or two used by guests of the Gran Bahia hotel, it is completely free of cars and motoconchos (the preferred transportation vehicle around Samana). When walking along the coast all you can hear is the relaxing sound of the rolling sea; meander through its wooded sections and your only distractions are the calls of the pelicanos and frigate birds. Cayo is just some minutes from Samana town and yet it feels completely isolated, shut away from the rest of the overly noise polluted world. Cayo Levantado is a place where you can slip into a slow rhythm and forget, even for just a few hours.
More experienced, or wiser, travelers know the drill. Book a suite at the Gran Bahia Principe when you want to stay for some days. This is the resort that’s managed to build and set roots on the tiny island. Respecting the tranquility and wildness of Cayo was a must for Gran Bahia. It is an adults-only, all-inclusive and alluringly splendid, with palatial guestrooms and bathrooms, four-poster wooden beds with Jacuzzis on large balconies, posh service that includes your very own butler, and access to private beaches.
What is it that makes Cayo Levantado so irresistible?
Normally this comes with a hefty price tag. Gran Bahia, however, is surprisingly affordable. While bubbling with exclusivity, the hotel free form pools, astounding spa, 24-hour room service, and unbelievable buffet and a la carte restaurants serving international fares from the Med to Brazilian are not only reserved only for the rich and the famous amongst us.
Tip: To experience what Cayo Levantado is really about, just book yourself and your spouse a suite, or a villa, at this awe-inspiring resort and stay there for some nights or so.
Snorkel its shallow coral reefs; experience the gloaming at one of its beaches; take a Scuba diving lesson; or simply explore the rest of the island hiking and get to know its ‘residents.’ And when the last of the day visitors have left the island by boat, head to Bacardi Beach for a drink. Afterward, when the night has come with silent, stunning stargazing and the alcohol has ever so slightly dulled your senses, let your inhibitions go and dance with your loved one the Merengue and Bachata on the now dimly lit beach under the glow of the moonlight.
This is Cayo Levantado, after all; and what is it, if not the place to relax, unwind and rejuvenate.