Cayo Levantado: From Pirate Hideout to Modern Day Oasis

Cayo Levantado (literally, ‘raised cay’ in English) is the Dominican Republic’s quintessential Caribbean oasis. Also known as Bacardi Island, because of it close resemblance to the beaches Bacardi Rum once used for their famous commercials, this sandy sanctuary is located off the southern shores of Samana Peninsula. The island sits in the heart of Samana Bay, world renowned for the thousands of humpback whales that visit every year from January to March. The World Wildlife Fund considers the Bay of Samana as one of the best places on earth to watch whales. This palm-tree studded island boasts bone-white sands, lapping turquoise waters and picture-perfect views of the Samana mountains to the North and the Oriental Mountain Range to the South.

Samana Cayo Levantado

A Pirate Past to Modern Comfort

Cayo Levantado was once known as Bannister Cay in honor of the infamous British pirate Jack Bannister who set up shop on Cayo’s virgin shores in the late 1600’s. Some 300 years later, half of the island is now home the Cayo Levantado Resort. This 219-room, five star resort was recently remodeled to position itself as one of the Dominican Republic’s premier ultra-luxurious wellness all-inclusive resorts. The other half of the island is home to a lazy, tropical beach with shallow, transparent waters and, of course, a beach bar serving up Cayo Levantado’s famous mouth-watering piña coladas. These authentic piña coladas are served the only way a piña colada should be – in the actual pineapple! These impossibly fresh pineapples are brought from the Samana countryside and are filled with rich Dominican Rum; add a straw and a little umbrella and life cannot get much better.

Excursions from Punta Cana

Cayo Levantado is a popular destination not only for those staying in Samana, but also for visitors staying in Punta Cana. Daily excursions from Punta Cana are offered via bus to the Miches area and then via boat across the Samana Bay. During whale watching season from Jan 15 – March 15, Samana excursions combine whale watching with Cayo Levantado. Outside whale watching season, the Samana tour combines a truck safari through Samana’s countryside to learn about and taste the region’s rich local produce: coconut, coffee, cocoa, mango, pineapple, sweet potato, banana, papaya, passion fruit and mamajuana (supposedly a natural aphrodisiac). The excursions also include a horseback ride to the sought after Limon Waterfall which drops cool mountain waters 170 feet to a green lagoon below.

Samana Salto Limon

Cayo Levantado is one of the most coveted islands in the Dominican Republic. With so much to do in the surrounding area, powdery sands, azure waters, pirate history and luxury resorts rooms, most visitors find this photo-inspiring island the highlight of their vacation – especially with a Cayo Levantado Piña Colada in hand!

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