Saona is an island located in the heart of the Caribbean, just south of the world famous Punta Cana. This is a spectacular tropical paradise with some of the most charming beaches and natural scenery in the world, making it the perfect destination for travellers seeking a romantic getaway and tranquillity.
Here you can expect to see crystal clear waters, stretches of white sand and the most stunning natural landscapes. The special charm that makes this place so attractive and special is that the island is practically inhabited. So the nature here is virgin, making the island a natural paradise!
Saona can be reached only by boat, via Bayhaibe Harbour and it takes around 1 hour form the main island to Saona island. Weather is warm all year round so there is no wrong season to visit.
A beautiful day spent in this tropical paradise sounds like a dream come true, but before your trip to the island there are a few things you should remember to bring with you and to do when you are there.
before getting to Saona
- take plenty of sunscreen with you, the sun hits hard
- bring your GoPro and camera
- always be respectful with the natural wildlife
- bring your swimsuit, hat and sunglasses
b o o k a t o u r
The only way you can get to Saona is by booking a tour. We booked a private boat with a captain for 120€ a day. In the price we had included a buffet lunch with BBQ with a vegetarian option available and drinks. I have to say the food was delicious, Dominicans know to cook. If you prefer a more intimate experience, the private tour is an excellent option as you’ll be able to enjoy the ride and make your own itinerary without feeling rushed.
You can chose one of these 3 types of boats : catamaran, speed boat or sailboat. We choose the speed boat because we wanted to get as quick as possible to Saona. By speed boat the ride takes about 40 minutes from Bayahibe port until Saona. Along the ride we stopped at a natural swimming pool to snorkel.
The ride till Saona is a pure bliss. We spotted several pristine beaches and breathtaking sights along the coast and this was just a preview of what we experienced later on Saona.
Here you can just relax under the shade of palm trees while drinking a piña colada, you can explore the lush jungle or if you feel adventurous, jump in the water and snorkel in the sparkling turquoise water to see lots of beautiful fish and amazing sea creatures!
f u n a c t i v i t i e s
There’s so much to do and see in Saona Island and so little time. Here you’ll find many places where you can relax and also enjoy cool activities. When we arrived we started to wander around this tropical paradise, searching for the best spots to snorkel and take photos, we also visited a cute artisanal shop. We asked our captain to take us to a remote place on the island and he took us to Playa Bonita and it was well worth it. The water was beautiful, with the stunning scenery of palm trees and the tranquility here is another level. Here are some of our favourite activities at this beach :
- Snorkelling. The best way to experience this beach is to go deep into the crystal waters and enjoy the stunning marine life, spotting a variety of fish like nurse sharks, puffer fish, seahorses, turtles, barracuda, butterfly fish, moray eels, stingrays, many varieties of corals and many more. The deeper you go into the water the more you see.
- Photos. I’m pretty sure that we all agree that this place is literally paradise, so why not to take as many photos as you can.
- Have lunch by the beach. Despite being so remote the meals here are some of the best I’ve ever tried. A lunch on this island is pretty special as you are surrounded by the amazing nature that creates a perfect ambience. Quite romantic I would say.
- Take a walk! The beaches are surrounded by lush green forests, enormous rocks and tall palm trees. Exploring these natural wonders will make your trip even more special.
In other words, this island is the prefect balance between relax and doing plenty of activities, so after snorkelling and exploring the surroundings, a break under the shade of palm trees it’s so well gained. Just grab a glass of piña colada and enjoy the views.
IT´S A PROTECTED NATIONAL PARK
If you are one of those people that’s always worried about how the animals are treated and conscious with the environment, then you don’t need to be worried about Saona, because it is part of a protected national park called Parque Nacional Del Este.
This means that here are no harmful animal interactions here in Saona Island. The island is a sanctuary for several species of migratory birds, you can expect to see here about 112 species of birds within the limits of the park and also this is a sea turtle Heaven, being the most important turtle nesting site in Dominican Republic, which means if you visit in nesting seasons you will enjoy nature´s miracle and I mean you can see the little turtles getting out of the nest and making their way to the sea. We visited many places with sea turtles and we’ve seen all the process, from mating, laying the eggs and the mother going back to the sea. The only part we haven’t seen yet is the little turtles going to the sea. Next time for sure!
If you are curious and want to see this amazing process with your own eyes, you should visit Saona during the nesting season that lasts from March through November. Dominican Republic is home to hawksbill green and leatherback turtle, and even if they are super protected they are still endangered species. So, be respectful and help to keep our amazing wildlife worldwide!!
r e s t a u r a n t s a n d f a c i l i t i e s
Pretty sure you are wandering if are there restaurants as this island is so remote. Of course there are and here is a list of the restaurants that you can find on Saona Island, most of them offering traditional local dishes! We had lunch included in the tour, but I searched a few restaurants if you want to try one:
- Playa Taino Restaurant
- Saona Explorer
- Playa los Griegos
We stopped at one to have a cold drink. Getting to one of this restaurants from Playa Bonita is by walking or by catamaran. I would recommend you to come here by foot, as this is a great way to enjoy this stunning place and discover more unique spots. You’ll be amazed by how dazzling this place is!
s t a r f i s h s p o t
Before we arrived on Saona, we stopped at this spot to snorkel in the turquoise waters in search of starfish. When we arrived here there were a few boats with tourists, but luckily the place doesn’t get too crowded and also the people prefer not to spend a lot of time here, so you can have some alone time with the ocean, loved ones and the starfish, of course. This place was pure bliss!!
DON´T TOUCH THE STARFISH
The starfish are beautiful and the temptation to touch them is big and I see in many places the same thing happening, people are touching, lifting, holding and playing with the starfish. And this is very wrong and very irresponsible! I don’t understand why many guides don’t say to the people about how this act can be fatal for these wonderful creatures. Here are some reasons why it is so important to leave them alone:
- They suffocate in the air as they need to be underwater to breathe.
- The smallest change in their environment cause them very much stress
- They are very fragile and even the tiniest touch could be very damaging to their little bodies
- Human hands have plenty of bacteria that can be passed to them leading to a slow and painful death
Even coming back to the main island was a fun and exciting adventure. Sailing in the Carribean waters was pure bliss. Feeling the ocean breeze blowing through our hair, watching the palm trees lined all over the huge beaches, the pristine waters.. we couldn’t stop being amazing by how beautiful this place is! We enjoyed every and each second of this trip that was a totally immersive experience. On the way we even spotted a few turtles. It was super awesome!
We absolutely loved this place and we made so many beautiful memories here. The marine life is very active here, you might get to see dolphins or different types of sharks. The jungle is perfect if you feel a little adventurous, which I highly recommend you to try, as this is such a great way to discover much more than it meets the eye.
If you want to experience the island without the crowds, there are plenty of spots that tourists don’t know about, where you can enjoy a moment of peace in this little paradise.
If you are curious and want to explore more on the main island, just check out my new blog where I shared plenty of tips about Punta Cana here.
With love, Maddie ♡