Bacardi Island in the Dominican Republic in Samana Bay is a small and unique destination. If you’re planning a visit, you’ll want to know all about this island paradise. In this article, you’ll find useful information, tips, and recommendations to make the most of your trip.

Table of contents:

Bacardi Island in the Dominican Republic

It is important to note that this island is not officially called Bacardi, and is uninhabitable. However, it still holds much beauty and history worth exploring.

bacardi island top view
The large beach in the foreground is the open part of the island for tourists. The far part and the hotel among the palm trees are a private area and access there is closed.

A Very Brief History of Bacardi Island

By reading this article, you will have a better understanding of this attraction in the Dominican Republic and be prepared for your visit. Understanding the history of a place can also help to enhance your experience and improve communication with locals.

  • Before 1493, there is not much known about the Bacardi island. It is believed that indigenous tribes lived here, but the exact details are not known.
  • The Bacardi island has a rich history that is closely tied to the history of the Samana peninsula. Throughout history, Bacardi has always been considered a part of Samana. All about the Samana Peninsula can be found in a separate article.
  • The discovery of the island and the start of its modern history is believed to have been when Christopher Columbus discovered the Samana peninsula in 1493. The exact date is not known by historians.
  • Bacardi was not settled and developed until 1746. This was because for 200 years, these lands were being fought over by the French and English, so the Spanish decided it was easier to defend lands where people lived.
  • In 1799, Napoleon attempted to capture Samana and Bacardi, but failed. Despite this, the island’s history is still fascinating and worth exploring.
boat pier cayo levantado
Bacardi Island Pier. Here on such boats and right here they bring all the tourists.

General facts about Bacardi Island

Here are some interesting facts:

  • The area of the island is less than 1 sq. km.
  • The official population is zero. There are no villages or permanent residents on the island.
  • The island is located 1 km from the coast of the Samana Peninsula and finding a boat here is not difficult. But more on that below.
  • The official name of the island is Cayo Levantado.
    • In 1950, the island became a filming location for an advertisement for the world famous Bacardi rum.
    • For over 40 years, commercials for this brand have been filmed here more than once.
    • I couldn’t find the first videos. But the last video of Bacardi rum was filmed on the main beach of the island in 1991. You can watch it below and feel the spirit of that time.
    • What other films or videos were filmed in the Dominican Republic, read here.
Advertisement for Bacardi rum. 1991 Cayo Levantado island.

It is important to know:

Rum is not only the main national drink of the Dominican Republic, but also a national idea. Everything about this alcoholic drink, how to choose which one to bring as a gift, the price, where to buy, read the article: Dominican rum. About Bacardi will not be there, as it is Cuban rum 🙂
bacardi island beach
The main beach open to tourists. In the first photo in the article – this is the same beach that is in the foreground. There are already a lot of people under the palm trees, if you look closely. And only 10-30 in the morning. By 13 o’clock there are several thousand people

How to get to Bacardi Island

Visiting Baсardi Island may seem like a breeze at first glance, but the reality is that it’s not as simple as it seems. The island is not easily accessible as there are no roads, bridges or regular transportation options. It’s important to keep in mind that officially, the island is uninhabited, so it can be a bit challenging to get there.

There are four ways to visit the island of Cayo Levantado:

  • Book a luxury hotel room on the island, as I will mention later.
  • Take a whale watching tour from January to March, when the whales arrive annually.
  • Take a cruise ship that includes the Dominican Republic, and the Samana Peninsula in the itinerary, they will take you to the island for a day trip.
  • Rent a boat and travel independently from the Samana Peninsula.
cayo levantado island in the morning
If you are one of the first to sail in the morning, by boat at 9 am, then the beaches are still empty.

The fourth way to get to Cayo Levantado island is by visiting one of the two ports of Samana. Once you arrive, you’ll be approached by locals who are willing to take you to the Bacardi island and bring you back. It’s best to arrive at port number 2 as it’s closer to the island and boats usually depart from here. Make sure to inquire about the return boat schedule in advance, as the boats don’t usually wait for you.

It is important to know:

Always bargain. The starting price will be from $20-30 per person. But the standard price is $10.

Map: getting to Bacardi Island

Things to do

The smallest chapter of this article is this one. There’s not much to do here in general. The island is very small and half of it is taken up by the closed territory of a luxury hotel. Therefore, on the open territory for everyone, you can:

  • Sunbathe on the beach
  • Swim
  • Take photos
  • Walk around the souvenir stalls and pick out gifts to take home, although the prices here are high.
  • Enjoy expensive seafood at the restaurant.

It is important to know:

If you’re not staying at a hotel on the island, you won’t have the opportunity to enjoy the island early in the morning or at sunset. You’ll arrive on the island at the same time as other tourists, and while the beach may look like paradise in the morning, it can get quite crowded during the day, especially on days when cruise ships arrive.

The author’s personal opinion: There isn’t much to do here, as it can get quite crowded during peak season. The ideal option would be to visit Isla Bacardi as part of a whale watching tour. That way, you can spend a couple of hours here, swim, take some photos, and then move on to the next destination. This way, you can see the island without wasting an entire day, as there isn’t much to do here.

Luxury hotel on Bacardi Island

On the island, there is only one luxurious hotel. The hotel’s territory is entirely private and closed off to the public. Unlike other hotels in the Dominican Republic, which have open access to their grounds, this hotel’s territory is exclusive to hotel guests only. If you’re looking for a secluded and private vacation, this is the perfect destination for you.

It is important to know:

As per the country’s law, all beaches in the Dominican Republic are considered public property, meaning anyone can access them. However, hotels are not allowed to fence off land closer than 50 meters from the ocean. This law applies to all beaches in the country, except for the island of Bacardi, where the hotel’s private beach can only be accessed by hotel guests. The seclusion and exclusivity of this hotel’s beach makes it a truly unique and special experience.

The hotel is called Cayo Levantado Resort and it is a true 5-star hotel experience. Guests can expect top-notch service and a wide range of amenities included in the Ultra All Inclusive packages.

When it comes to accommodations, the hotel boasts an impressive selection of luxurious and Presidential class rooms. With over 200 rooms available, you can be sure to find the perfect space to fit your needs. You won’t find any economy, standard, semi-luxury rooms in this hotel, as the hotel’s focus is on luxury and exclusivity. It’s a perfect destination for those looking for a lavish and sophisticated vacation.

hotel on the island of cayo levantado
This is how the closed part of the island with the hotel looks like.

The Cayo Levantado Resort boasts impressive ratings, with a score of around 9.3. Guest reviews are overwhelmingly positive. However, there are two downsides and one plus that stand out among the rest.

  • Downside 1: The hotel is situated on a very small island. This may not be the ideal option for those looking for a wider range of activities or attractions, but it’s perfect for those seeking a luxurious and secluded vacation, lounging on a beach chair and sipping on a Piña Colada.
  • Upside: The hotel’s location on a small island makes it a true paradise for those seeking a lavish and secluded vacation experience.
  • Downside 2: According to official data, the hotel’s occupancy rate is extremely high, at around 97% throughout the year. This means that securing a booking can be difficult, even several months in advance.

How to book a room in Bahia Principe Luxury Cayo Levantado

If this hotel is busy and there are no available dates. Don’t be sad. Follow the links to two useful articles just for you:

Bacardi Island: Travel Tips

Although it may seem obvious, if you are not staying at a luxury hotel on the island, I would not recommend spending a whole day visiting Bacardi Island. This is only a good option if you have a lot of time in the Dominican Republic and have already seen everything else.

However, if you are only in the Dominican Republic for 1-2 weeks, it is better to visit Playa Fronton, which is considered the most beautiful beach in the Dominican Republic and it is quite close to Bacardi. But if you still decide to visit the island or if it’s included in your tour, here are a few tips:

bacardi island dominican
It’s almost 11 am and there are more and more tourists.
  • Make sure to bring a mask and snorkel with you as the water is very clear and there are not many fish or stars to see, but it’s still possible to spot some.
  • Remember that loungers, drinks, and snacks are all extra and can be quite expensive. It’s best to have cash on hand. However, there are tours that include these things, so it’s worth checking them out before you go.
  • The only thing that is free on the island is the toilet, which is clean and modern.
  • Also, it’s a good idea to bring water and snacks just in case.
  • Remember, if you have arranged with a boat captain to return at a certain time, do not be surprised if they are late. Being an hour late is not considered late here.

In conclusion, Bacardi Island is undoubtedly a heavily advertised attraction in the Dominican Republic. Tourists often make the mistake of prioritizing this island and try to visit it at the expense of other great places. The island is good, the beach is excellent, but you have already read about the downsides. I recommend lowering the priority of visiting this island and visiting it if you have time or if you are on your way to see the whales.

Less people on the beach and more stunning photos for you!

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Dominican Republic

  • Flights at the best prices with discounts
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – a largest international resource
  • Hotels and apartments:
    • Hotellook – compares hotel prices among dozens of booking platforms and offer you the best price.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Dominican Republic.
  • Vacation packages:
    • Expedia – best deals from Europe.
    • CheapOair – cheap packages from all US cities.
  • Tours, excursions and extreme activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 800+ tours and water activities.
    • Viator – 3500+ tours and excursions in Dominican.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo – eSIM with internet package.
    • Drimsim – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel