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The beaches aren't in the town of Samaná itself, except for a stretch of sand at the foot of a steep road leading over to the not particularly inspiring sands of Bahía Escondido. To reach the best beaches, you have to go farther afield.

All the beaches either west or east of the town of Samaná can be reached by guaguas (small buses or vans) that run to the sands frequently throughout the day and can be hailed along the road. A series of good sandy beaches also lies east of Samaná on the road to Las Galeras .

A more approachable beach lies 5km (3 miles) east of Samaná. Playa Las Flechas is reached by going along Carretera Las Galeras. Historically, this beach was the site of the first battle between Native Americans and Europeans.

Near the mouth of Bahía de Samaná, Cayo Levantado lies 7km (4 1/3 miles) southeast of Samaná. Here in the midst of luxuriant tropical vegetation you will find a trio of lovely beaches of white sand. These beaches are on an island but can be easily reached by public transportation.

You can also travel independently to the island, as various boats leave daily from 8:30 to 11am, with the last return at 4pm. There is no central ferry service, and departures of these boats are from the Samaná Pier Marina. Because the boats are independently owned, fares can vary based on what each boatman charges, but expect to pay a rather pricey fee of around RD$1,400 each way per person. Confronted with this price structure, it's actually preferable to pay for participation in a half-day guided tour to the island run by any of the tour operators we list. With drinks, round-trip passage, and the services of a local guide included, and with the certainty that your return trip back to Samaná would, indeed, show up, per-person fees for such a tour cost around RD$1,750.

Cayo Levantado was the original Bacardi Rum island photographed in a famous ad campaign that ran on TV in the '70s. Regrettably, the famous swaying palm featured in the ad was uprooted in a tropical storm. Yet hundreds of its siblings are still here to shade you when you're not racing across the white sands.

Once at Cayo Levantado, should you tire of the beach, you can take one of the trails that crisscross the island; one leads to a promontory on the southern tier of the island, the lookout point opening onto panoramic views. Yet another trail cuts across to the western side of the island, with a beautiful beach on a secluded bay.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.