Six kilometres out in the bay lies CAYO LEVANTADO, the original Bacardi Island photographed in the 1970s rum campaign, though the famous swaying palm from the ad has since been uprooted in a tropical storm. Fortunately, hundreds of others still line the soft white sands. It is now owned by the Bahía Principe group, who run the sole hotel, the Gran Bahía Principe Levantado (www.bahia-principe.com; US$151 and over) that takes up two-thirds of the island, while welcoming a steady stream of cruise-ship passengers throughout the year to a public beach at the other end of the island. Yet more visitors take the ferry over from Samaná (US$10) and most whale-watching tours and excursions to the Parque de Los Haitises stop off here for an hour or so, which can make it very crowded in high season. Moreover, with the extortionate food and drink prices and constant hassling from vendors, this is no Robinson Crusoe-esque paradise. There are many better places on the peninsula to spend a day on the beach.

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Video: 14 things we love about the Dominican Republic

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