Luxury Retreat in a Tropical Paradise
In the late 1600s, sea captain Joseph Bannister defeated British warships near the Caribbean island of Cayo Levantado. Where battleships once roamed, yachts now glide peacefully into Puerto Bahia's marina docks, skirting past The Bannister Hotel, named in honor of the legendary mariner. Private terraces overlook the marina and Samaná Bay, where humpback whales complete their migratory journey each winter.
Beneath the hotel's thatched rooftops, bayside charm fills the 1,200-square-foot Admiral suite through gauzy curtains, ivory tones, and sleek marble floors. As the sun sets, music reverberates through the Café del Mar, the hotel's seaside restaurant where mai tais (RD $280) share table space with grilled octopus (RD $360) from a tapas-heavy menu.
Come morning, hearty American-style breakfasts await those looking for a bite before spending the day lounging on the shore or taking a dip in one of the resort's tranquil infinity pools. Past the lobby's regal columns, a winding staircase leads to the Ni Spa, which spans two levels and soothes tense limbs with 15 minute holistic hydrotherapy sessions. For aquatic recreation, water taxis and GPS-navigated dolphins provide transportation to nearby fishing and snorkeling sites.
Samaná Peninsula: Natural Wonder and Caribbean Tradition
Jutting out about 35 miles east from the Dominican Republican mainland, the Samaná Peninsula attracts tourists for its coconut-tree-lined beaches and exotic wildlife. Between January and March, scores of humpback whales migrate thousands of miles to the Samaná Bay's warm waters to mate, give birth, and nurse their offspring. These majestic endangered creatures and other sea life can be seen up close during diving, snorkeling or boating excursions along the bay. On land, tourists hike or ride horseback past banana plantations near the cascading waters of El Salto del Limón waterfall. Merengue beats can be heard in the town of Santa Bárbara de Samaná, where diners sample Caribbean fare at seaside cafés or browse boutiques draped with traditional garb.