Saona island is considered one of the most beautiful tropical paradises in the Caribbean region. Its unique landscape combining fine white sand and crystal turquoise to emerald waters attract many nature lovers as well as adventurous travelers.
This place is one of the highlights of the vacation spent in Dominican Republic. Although thousands of tourists visit the area every year, the Island looks untouched by the modern way of life. It is part of the biggest national marine park in Dominicana. The Island was firstly called “Saona” by Christopher Columbus.
Location of Saona island
This tropical heaven is located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, close to the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic. It is one of the most attractive places in the Parque Nacional del Este.
When to go to the Caribbean island?
The best time to visit this place if from mid-December to mid-April. These months are part of the dry season in the area. The sea is perfect for snorkeling and experiencing the breathtaking beauty of the Caribbean sea. From May to November is the low season when the prices of boat trips to Saona island are lower but there is a chance of heavy rains.
How to get to Saona island
Saona is accessible only by sea. There are many organized boat or catamaran trips as well as private charters. They all leave from Bayahibe beach. The boat ride is about 30-40 minutes depending on the excursion itinerary. If you are staying at Punta Cana, you will be picked up from your hotel. It is a little bit complicated to visit Isla Saona if you are coming from Samana or Puerto Plata you better opt for airport transfers. The best way is to choose a trip including short flight to Punta Cana airport. Take into account that you are not allowed to stay for the night at Saona because there are no hotels there.
Saona Island Trips
Tourists can opt for a couple of variations of a full-day Saona island tours. People who are looking for fun will choose an excursion combining sightseeing, dancing on the catamaran and drinking Rum cocktails. What does it mean? The catamaran leaves from Bayahibe at 09.00-09.30 a.m. passing by the East national park territory. The sailing boat heads for Catalina Island. It is so small that may look as a rock in the sea. After 20-30 minutes snorkeling around colorful coral sculptures and amazing tropical fish, the catamaran continues its way to Isla Saona.
There you can start exploring the island by visiting the only village Mano Juan. The main attractions in this small establishment are the school and turtle nursery.
Some nature lovers prefer to go directly to the marvelous beach of Canto de la Playa and its coral garden. There you can explore kilometers of white sandy waterfront, palm trees, and mangroves. Swimming is very pleasant and safe even for children since the sea is about 5 feet or 150 centimeters deep. Snorkelers are able to admire abundance of tropical fish such as butterfly fish, cuttlefish, puffer fish, and many more. The most experienced swimmers are allowed to go beyond the reef barrier. Saona Island trips also include a lunch under the palm trees on Canto de la Playa.
There are excursions to Island Saona targeting more adventurous travelers. They include a tour of the Tanama Jungle and rafting in the area of Chavon River. Sea-and-jungle trip could be very exciting for families with children. The lush tropical vegetation is a home of many local animals. Two very popular movies – Jurassic park and Apocalypse Now, were shot there.
The boat ride back to Bayahibe is also fun. If you are lucky, your boat could be accompanied by dolphins. The catamaran or speed boat will stop at natural swimming pool where you can touch real star fish.
Video: Swimming With Dolphins Around Isla Saona
During our boat trip to Saona Island we shot a video featuring wild dolphin family approaching our boat. It was amazing to see these exceptional sea mammals swimming around divers and a boat in Caribbean Sea. Some of these intelligent and playful animals were leaping from the waves; others were very close to the vessel. They did found our company appealing. That was an experience of a lifetime especially for the swimmers who were very close to the dolphins in their unique environment.
A few years ago there was a very exciting day trip from Punta Cana to Saona island. The transportation combined a 5 minutes flight with a small plane, a walking tour around the ethnographic village Los Altos de Chavon, a spectacular boat trip around the wild mangroves in the Chavon river, and a speed boat to Saona Island. On our way back we were transferred on a catamaran that took us to a natural swimming pool.
See the wild Saona island coastline, the speed boat trip through the beautiful landscapes of the Chavon River, and a video from a plane that took us from Punta Cana to the Altos de Chavon village.