Saona Island (Isla Saona) Overview

Nestled in the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea, Saona Island, also known as Isla Saona, stands as a pristine oasis of natural beauty and cultural wonders. Saona Island is a beautiful tropical paradise located off the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. This uninhabited island is part of the East National Park and is home to breathtaking beaches, crystal clear waters, and an array of wildlife. Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, lounging on the beach, and taking in stunning scenery. Both Isla Catalina and Isla Saona offer a chance to escape the bustle of everyday life and immerse oneself in the splendor of nature. 

saona island aerial view
saona island beach and palm trees


How Can I get to Saona Island?

From La Romana:

Transportation to Bayahibe: First, you need to get to the town of Bayahibe, which is the main departure point for tours to Saona Island. If you’re already in La Romana, you can hire a taxi or use public transportation to reach Bayahibe. It’s about a 20-30 minute drive from La Romana.

Book a Tour or Boat: Once you’re in Bayahibe, you have several options to reach Saona Island. The most common way is by booking a tour with one of the many tour operators in Bayahibe. These tours often include transportation, lunch, drinks, and various activities.

Speedboat or Catamaran Tour: The tours typically offer two main choices for transportation to Saona Island, speedboat or catamaran. The speedboat is faster and takes around 45 minutes to reach the island, while the catamaran is more relaxed and can take up to 1.5 hours.

From Punta Cana

Transportation to Bayahibe: From Punta Cana, the most common starting point to reach Saona Island is the town of Bayahibe, which is the main departure point for tours. There are a few ways to get to Bayahibe from Punta Cana.

Tour Bus: Many tour companies in Punta Cana offer day trips to Saona Island, and they provide transportation from your hotel in Punta Cana to Bayahibe. Look for reputable tour operators and book your tour in advance.

Private Transfer: You can arrange a private taxi or transfer service to take you directly from your hotel in Punta Cana to Bayahibe.

Book a Saona Island Tour: Once you arrive in Bayahibe, you’ll need to book a tour to Saona Island. Numerous tour operators offer various options, including speedboats and catamarans. Choose the one that suits your preferences and budget. These tours typically include transportation, lunch, drinks, and activities on the island.

Speedboat or Catamaran Tour: Depending on your chosen tour, you’ll either board a speedboat or a catamaran to reach Saona Island. The speedboat is faster and takes around 45 minutes to reach the island, while the catamaran provides a more leisurely ride, taking up to 1.5 hours.

Top Activities on Saona Island

Beach Volleyball: Engage in a friendly game of beach volleyball with fellow travelers and locals, fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Kayaking Adventure: Paddle along the coast of the island on a kayak, witnessing the beauty of the shoreline up close.

Seaside Picnic: Indulge in a delectable picnic on the beach, relishing fresh fruits and local delicacies amidst the picturesque setting.

The Iconic Palm Tree Stretch:  As you set foot on Saona Island, you’ll be greeted by an iconic sight—the Palm Tree Stretch. Imagine walking along the shoreline, with coconut palms lining your path, their fronds swaying gently in the tropical breeze. It’s the perfect spot to capture postcard-worthy photographs and create cherished memories.

Discover the Local fishing villages: Saona Island is not only known for its stunning beaches and natural beauty but also for its charming local fishing villages, Mano Juan and Catuano. These villages offer a glimpse into the authentic Dominican way of life and provide visitors with a chance to experience the island’s local culture

Visit the Caves of Cotubanama:  The Caves of Cotubanamá, also known as Cuevas de Cotubanamá, hold historical importance as they are believed to have been used by the indigenous Taíno people who once inhabited the island before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. These caves served as shelters and ceremonial spaces for the Taíno community, making them a significant archaeological site.

Why is Saona Island Famous?

Natural Pools: One of the highlights of a trip to Saona Island is a visit to its famous natural pools, known as “Piscinas Naturales.” These shallow sandbars in the middle of the sea are home to starfish and offer a unique opportunity to wade in warm, waist-deep waters surrounded by the ocean.

Protected National Park: Saona Island is part of the Parque Nacional del Este (Eastern National Park), a protected area that preserves the island’s biodiversity, including its diverse marine life, coral reefs, and wildlife. This status helps maintain the island’s natural beauty and ensures sustainable tourism practices.

Film and TV Appearances: Saona Island’s stunning scenery has caught the attention of the film and television industry. It has been featured in several movies, including scenes from “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” which has further increased its popularity.

Discovering the Magic of Saona Island

1. The Unspoiled Beaches

The first glimpse of Saona Island’s powdery-white beaches and crystal-clear waters will leave you breathless. The island boasts some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in the Caribbean. Picture yourself strolling along the shore, feeling the soft sand beneath your feet, and soaking in the warm tropical sun. With swaying palm trees and gentle ocean waves, it’s a scene straight out of a postcard.

2. Abundant Marine Life

Saona Island is a haven for marine enthusiasts. Snorkeling and diving opportunities abound in its pristine waters. Swim alongside vibrant fish, graceful rays, and even sea turtles. The coral reefs are teeming with life, making every underwater adventure an awe-inspiring experience.

3. The Saona Island Wildlife

Beyond the beaches, the island’s interior is a lush tropical paradise with diverse wildlife. Keep an eye out for the native species that call this island home. From colorful birds to adorable iguanas, Saona Island offers a chance to get up close and personal with nature.

4. A Rich Cultural Heritage

Saona Island is not just about natural beauty; it also has a fascinating cultural history. Originally inhabited by the Taíno people, the island later became a refuge for pirates. Explore the remnants of history through archaeological sites and intriguing stories that have been passed down through generations.

Tours and Excursions

Private Charters to Saona Island

AZIMUT55/indi
Year: 2005
Capacity: 16 guests
Cabins: 3
Size: 55 feet
Rate: US$ 2,900/day (all destinations)
Yacht Type: Motor Yacht
Departure: 9 am / Arrival: 5 pm

BOOK NOW

POWERPLAY 54/liquid
Year: 2003
Capacity: 22 guests
Cabins: 4
Size: 55 feet
Rate: US$ 1,990/day (all destinations)
Yacht Type: Motor Catamaran
Departure: 9 am / Arrival: 5 pm

BOOK NOW

AZIMUT 55/ancoral
Year: 2008
Capacity: 15 guests
Cabins: 3
Size: 55 feet
Rate: US$ 2,350/day (all destinations)
Yacht Type: Motor Yacht
Departure: 9 am / Arrival: 5 pm

BOOK NOW

Frequently Asked Questions

 As Saona Island is a protected nature reserve, there are limited accommodations directly on the island. However, there are plenty of resorts and hotels on the nearby mainland offering day trips to Saona.

The best time to visit Saona Island is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. The weather is pleasant, and the seas are calm, perfect for enjoying the island’s attractions.

Yes, Saona Island offers some wildlife encounters for visitors to enjoy. While the island is not known for exotic or dangerous wildlife, you can still experience encounters with various marine and bird species. 

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