The beach in Cayo Levantado is excellent for snorkeling, kayaking, swimming or just relaxing while getting a tan. The sand and the air are usually warmer than the water, which makes for a refreshing dip in the Atlantic.
On the highest part of the island, you'll find the Mirador which is the perfect spot for feeling the breeze, get the best pictures and find your inner self!
Walk across the island to find your perfect spot. Try to get into the small and lonely beaches, rather than the crowded public one but be aware of the time as if the boat leaves you, you're stuck until the next day.
There's a big hut like building where people eat (but you could take your food to the beach too, as long as you don't litter) and the day we visited, there were a lot of people on tour eating there. their buffet food table was set with some device (like a water bed but not quite) to keep the food warm, and then all they had to do was help themselves as much or as often as they wanted.
Also, the many bars there sell both food and drinks.
While you eat there's a music group playing traditional Dominican music and sometimes some other Latin songs, then when they're done they go around with a tip jar. It's up to you how much you want to tip or if you want to tip them at all.
There are boats that go between the island and the mainland. As far as I know that should be arranged from the mainland as you tell them what time you want them to pick you up but I'm sure there are boat people on the island that can take you to the mainland and back if your cruise ship stopped at Cayo Levantado instead of Samaná.
Insider tips: (1) *always* agree on a price before you get on any boat and (2) pay half when they leave you at the mainland or the island and the other half when they take you back.
From Samana, take the Cayo Levantado day-trip tour or one-way trip. Last boat departs at 6PM so be warned and don't loose it!
The many stands on the way to and from the pier (depending on where you're going to) have very nicely crafted jewelry made with Dominican larimar, amber and other stones like jade. You can also find nice paintings, coffee, rum and other Dominican crafts.
What to buy: The question is what *not* to buy. I wanted to take everything home hehe.
What to pay: Haggle as much as possible. You can get better prices if you go buy at around 3pm or close to their closing time (I assume it's at 5pm), and even so haggle.
It's not a danger tip, more like a FYI. You'll find vendors pushing you to buy their products, sometimes even more than once. Just firmly say no and they'll leave you alone.
When you're coming into the island there's a station with parrots (and close to the beach there's a man with a seal) and if you want to pet them or have a picture with them then you have to pay for it, as pictures with YOUR camera aren't allowed. The same goes for a seal they have there too, but I however managed to snatch 3 shots of the seal before i was told not to do that (oops "sorry"!) and then I snatched a picture of the parrots (not so good tho!).
Unique Suggestions: Ask what the photo price is and haggle before you go ahead and let them photograph you.
Fun Alternatives: Look at the animals from afar or see if you can steal a picture like I did...