Isla Saona is a small gem located in the southeast of the Dominican Republic. In addition to its dream beaches, this beautiful place, which the indigenous people called Adamanay, has one of the largest natural pools in the Caribbean where you can swim in shallow waters full of underwater life.
Frequently Asked Questions about Isla Saona
Where is Isla Saona?
It is the largest island in the Dominican Republic. It is located to the southeast of Cotubanamá National Park (also called Del Este National Park), belongs to La Romana and is only 12 miles (19 km) from the coast of La Altagracia province.
Why visit Isla Saona?
Described by visitors as “a must-see if you’re traveling to the Dominican Republic,” Isla Saona is famous for its pristine beaches, history, landscapes and seabeds. In addition, it has: authentic fishing villages; caves that date back to the Taíno era; and it’s the most important turtle nesting site in the country.
In short, it is a natural treasure. And as it is part of Cotubanamá National Park, it is home to a great variety of local species (more than 500). Coral reefs, mollusks, turtles, dolphins, and manatees inhabit its waters, as well as a wide variety of fish and plant species. And in the air… numerous types of birds and in the background… a landscape full of contrasts, beach, forests, mangroves, and lagoons.
It is an ideal sport for diving, snorkeling, and hiking enthusiasts. But also for those looking for a beach where they can lie quietly and enjoy the tranquility of the island. Friends, families, couples… everyone will find their place.
What is Isla Saona like?
The island has an area of 43 square miles (110 square kilometers) and about 1,200 inhabitants. The islanders’ main occupations are fishing and tourism. It is a protected area, so construction developments haven’t been allowed for years.
Its beaches are quiet, with white sand and surrounded by palm trees and coconut trees. The island is rocky, with caves and grottoes that hide archaeological sites from the Taíno era.
Its waters are warm (the temperature does not usually drop below 20º at any time of the year), calm (with very little waves) and crystal clear. The season to enjoy its beaches and go swimming is from January to December, it’s hot all year round! You can enjoy temperatures ranging from 30º to 33º maximum and from 19º to 23º minimum. The rainy season is usually between October, September, and November; and the average water temperature is 27°C in winter and 28°C in summer.
Regarding its towns, the most famous, and worth visiting is Mano Juan, a fishing village located in the south. There, you will see small rustic houses that dot the beach with color.
Where to eat in Isla Saona?
Many tours to the island include the option of food and drink. But there are also some rustic restaurants and they are an alternative for those who want to enjoy traditional Caribbean cuisine (such as fish and rice cooked with coconut). Lunch is usually buffet style, but there is also an à la carte option with a more varied menu: seafood, Italian cuisine, Mediterranean, and barbecue.
Beaches in Isla Saona
The island itself is a beach. “Canto de la Playa” is considered by visitors as the best beach on Isla Saona; it is natural and unspoiled, so there are usually no services or sun loungers. It is perfect for enjoying an experience of pure relaxation and disconnection. It has abundant vegetation, white sand on its shore, crystal clear waters, and natural shade from palm trees (don’t forget the coconuts – nature is very spontaneous and at any time one may fall). The beach is located at the southeast of the island (it is the furthest, but worth visiting). We suggest that if you book a tour, check whether it includes a visit to this beautiful spot.
Other beaches on the island include: Playa Bonita and Playa del Gato (both close to the Catuano area) and Saona Beach.
But island’s greatest gem is on the way to it and in the middle of the Caribbean Sea: a shallow natural pool (about 1 meter), bathed by the most crystalline water in the area.
How do I get to Isla Saona?
Isla Saona can be reached from different points, one of the best known is Bayahibe Port. Once there, the journey is made by catamarans. The boats usually sail quite regularly, the schedules are flexible (as the boats wait for a group to sail) and the trip takes about an hour and a half.
Another option is to go by boat from Altos de Chavón. This is a very interesting route, as you can see some sites that were filming locations for movies such as Jurassic Park and Apocalypse Now.
The most practical way to visit the island is with a tour, since it includes round-trip transportation from the hotel, boat, food, drink, entertainment, and tour guides. You won’t have to worry about anything! Some pick up points are La Romana, Punta Cana.
What is there to do in Isla Saona?
Here we share top experiences to enjoy the island to the fullest 🙂
- See the fishing village Mano Juan. In addition to touring this picturesque village, you can visit the Turtle Recovery Center, whose mission is to conserve the eggs and release turtles when they are born, as they are an endangered species. You will see three species of sea turtles: the Hawksbill Turtle, the Green Turtle and the Tinglar Turtle.
- Walk along the Laguna los Flamencos.
- Swim in the natural pool.
- Disconnect, swim, and snorkel at “Canto de la Playa.”
- Discover the Taíno legacy: start with the Cotubanamá cave (located near Catuano). Legend has it that this is where the chieftain Cotubanamá and his family hid when he was defeated in the Second Higüey War.
- Explore the Catuano area. It is a natural reserve that has a large number of protected animal and plant species.
- Dive through the Caballo Blanco Reef, which is off the island’s coast. Diverse types of fish and sea turtles live in this area. Furthermore, there is an 18th century galleon and you can still see its metallic remains. You will find anchors, ammunition, cannons and other metal and ceramic objects. In addition, the area is visited by dolphins and, at some times of the year, by whales.
Tips and useful information for a day in Isla Saona:
- Remember to bring mosquito repellent and sunscreen, hat, bathing suit, sunglasses, and a towel.
- Check the schedule of your tour so you won’t forget anything at the hotel. They usually start early in the morning.
- Don’t forget to bring protective cases for your camera and mobile phone, as they could get wet on the catamaran ride.
- Wear suitable footwear for the rocky areas of the island and to be able to walk comfortably.
- Remember to carry a bag to collect your waste. You must not throw garbage into the water or the beach. Caring for the environment is everyone’s responsibility.
- Keep in mind that it is forbidden to touch the starfish. They are very delicate, and removing them from the sea or placing them in the wrong position can lead to their death.
- Please, respect the ecosystem, it is a natural, unspoiled, and protected environment. We must respect it in order to continue enjoying this paradise on planet Earth.
How can I book a tour to Isla Saona?
Watch the video below and discover what a day in Isla Saona and hiking with Coming2 looks like 🙂
Coming2 offers this wonderful tour and you can book it very easily once at your hotel or before your arrival, on the Bahia Principe website. If you prefer to book on the web, you must select your hotel or destination and you will see all the available excursions, that easy!
The tour itinerary is as follows: you’ll be picked up by an air-conditioned bus at the hotel and then taken to Isla Saona by speedboat or catamaran. On board the catamaran, you can enjoy national drinks included (except beer). As soon as you reach the island, you will spend a full day there, with a buffet lunch, drinks, and the tour guide included.
The return will be by catamaran to the rhythm of merengue and bachata and, of course, we will make a stop to visit the most impressive natural pool by the island.
The tour is usually available all year round, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. It lasts all day, from 6:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. approximately.
Discover Isla Saona. Stress and worries can be left behind.
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