Saona Island – a paradise in the Dominican Republic
Saona Island, reminiscent of paradise, is called the heart and soul of the Dominican Republic, as well as the diamond of the Caribbean Sea. Locals say that being in the Dominican Republic and not visiting Saona is the same as vacationing in Paris and not climbing the Eiffel Tower. Despite the fact that the island is considered the most tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, here you can always take pictures on the azure coast without the influx of tourists and vacationers. To be on the island, just buy a tour from a private guide or tour operator.
Photo: Saona Island, Dominican Republic
General information about the island of Saona
Discovered the island of Saona Dominica in the fall of 1494 by Christopher Columbus. There are various speculations and theories associated with the name. According to one version, Saona was a town in Italy where Columbus’s close friend Michele de Cuneo lived. He was the first person to see the coast and pointed out to Columbus. Michele de Cuneo later took over as governor of the island. By the way, the authorities of the Italian city and the island maintain friendly relations.
There is another version – the island is named after the daughter of the traveler, who traveled with the famous navigator – Bella Savonessa.
Useful information for tourists:
- The area of the island is 112 sq. km;
- The length of the island is 12 km and its width is almost 5 km;
- the island is 800 m away from the Dominican coast;
- The depth of the sea near Saona is 100 m;
- The island surface is a plain, the only elevation being Mount Punta Balaju.
Saona appears to be a deserted and uninhabited island, however, there are villages inhabited mostly by local fishermen and also the military are stationed there.
Good to know! Hotels cannot be built on the island, so tours are only for one day.
The island became famous thanks to the famous advertising of candy bars Bounty. The commercials promised an unearthly delight from the treats, but many people, above all, paid attention to the amazing nature and the azure colored water around the island. Not surprisingly, millions of tourists around the world wanted to visit this small island in the Caribbean Sea to see its amazing scenery, walk on the soft, white sand, lounge in the shade of palm trees and swim in the clearest, azure sea.
Photo: Saonaona, Dominican Republic
Interesting fact! Some people mistakenly think that the island was the filming of the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”. The saga about the adventures of Jack Sparrow was filmed in Dominica.
Why visit the island
The length of the coastline with picturesque beaches is several kilometers, but tourists are brought to the equipped places for recreation, where there are sun loungers, you can organize a buffet. These areas of the coast are regularly cleaned and treated for insects.
If you want to be in a more exotic location, book a customized tour or photo shoot. Food and drinks are usually included in the price of the trip.
Good to know! If you are planning to go surfing, pay attention to Macau Beach.
Experienced tourists note that snorkeling on Saona Island is one of the best in the Dominican Republic – clean water, lack of algae and a rich marine world. Guides will tell you where the best places are for snorkeling.
Saona can be safely called a nature reserve, because there are many unique plant species – 539 of them are found only on the island. The density of vegetation is very high – almost the entire surface is covered with mangroves, there are areas with impassable jungle and swamps, there are many coconut palms, banana trees, papaya, even there is a rare redwood and cedars.
Parrots live in the treetops, and there are 112 different species of birds on the island. From May to mid-autumn, turtles come to the shores of Saona to lay their eggs. In the waters around the island, you can find 120 species of marine life, more than 120 varieties of mollusks and a dozen different corals, you can also meet dolphins and stingrays.
On the shores of the island is the largest natural pool of only one meter deep, where starfish live. Each tour is sure to stop near this shoal for snorkeling. When choosing a tour, keep in mind that not all travel agencies know the “cool” places, where there are really enough sea stars and few tourists.
Photo: Saona Island
Important: There is a law in the Dominican Republic, which aims to protect and increase the population of starfish. According to the document it is strictly prohibited to take sea creatures out of the water, but you can take pictures and shoot video.
Excursions to Saona Island from resorts in the Dominican Republic
Of course, an excursion to Saona Island is a must when traveling to the Dominican Republic. Every travel agency will tell you that it would be an unforgivable mistake to fly to the Dominican Republic and not take pictures with the starfish. At first glance it is simple – buy an excursion, sail to the island and enjoy your vacation. But to the organizational aspects should be taken with great care.
The price of a tour to the island of Saona depends on:
- selected tour operator;
- tourist program.
The average price of a tour to Saona Island in the Dominican Republic ranges from $ 65 to $ 250 per person. Also in forming the price takes into account the location of the beach on the island – the cleaner and more beautiful the shore, the more expensive you will have to pay the guide, and the meals that are included in the lunch.
Be prepared for the fact that the beach, where you will be brought, is located near the swampy area, where there are a lot of mosquitoes and other insects. All beaches are equipped with sun beds, deck chairs and umbrellas. Of course, the quality of the beach is the main criterion for choosing the tour.
The number of people in the group varies from 25 to 60 people – the more tourists, the cheaper the cost.
Important! The optimal ratio of comfort and cost – 30-35 people.
Transport is comfortable – with air conditioning, the only difference – capacity. Buses can accommodate from 25 to 50 people, it depends on this – how many hotels the transport will pass, respectively, the time spent on collecting the group. As for water transport – to the island group is delivered to the speedboats, and for the return journey is provided comfortable catamaran, where you can dance, drink rum and relax.
Every excursion to Saona in the Dominican Republic involves lunch. It is usually a buffet, the set of dishes depends on the cost of the trip. The traditional menu includes chicken, fish, seafood, side dishes of potatoes, pasta, rice, salads, and seasonal fruit. If you wish, you may order lobster at a price from $25 to $40. The choice of drinks is quite diverse – local rum, Sprite, juices, beer, water.
The standard tour program to Saona Island in the Dominican Republic is as follows.
– Tourists are picked up from the hotel at approximately 7:30, as the bus stops at several hotels, the road to the port takes about 1.5 hours, the guide is Russian-speaking.
– At the port, the group is transferred to a speedboat and goes to the island.
– After a quarter of an hour, the boat stops in a natural pool for tourists to swim and take pictures with starfish. Many tourists note that in sunny weather, the color of the water in this part of the sea is extraordinary. The duration of the stop is approximately 30 minutes. Remember that it is strictly forbidden to pull starfish out of the water, without water they quickly die.
– After a quarter of an hour, the group arrives on the island and until lunch, tourists walk, enjoy the beauties, take pictures. Visitors to Saona Island are greeted by loud music, but you can find a secluded, quiet area if you wish. There is a beach bar on the shore, where you can buy drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The lunch table is served on the beach at about one o’clock in the afternoon. In the afternoon, animators begin their work – tourists are taught to dance salsa and bachata.
– At 3 pm, tourists leave the island. The way back is always more fun, because tourists are already familiar with each other, also affect the impact of alcoholic beverages drunk during lunch. At the request of tourists catamaran stops at the reef. With fun music, dancing and drinks the road to the hotel will fly by unnoticed.
When choosing a tour, you should first clarify the program and know the maximum number of people in the group. Be sure to choose a program with a Russian-speaking guide, because there are guides who speak only Spanish and English, they work with the locals.
Also specify – whether a visit to the sea pool with the stars is planned. Some programs provide an excursion to the City of Artists – Altos de Chavon.
Useful information! Capacity of a catamaran is 100 people, so often sightseeing buses are combined and several groups go by sea.
Specify the route the group will take. Traditionally, tourists are offered a visit to a natural pool with starfish and the City of Artists, but there are also extended programs that include a visit to cane plantations and mangroves.
The next question that is important to ask the guide is what the beach will be like. It is from the quality of the coast and sea depends on the impression of the entire trip, it would be a shame if it would be spoiled by the nearby swamp, midges. On the island of Saona is enough exclusive beaches where you can relax comfortably, take beautiful pictures, enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Tip: If you find yourself in a large group of tourists, once on the island, immediately take a deckchair or sun lounger – after dinner, you want a quiet and comfortable rest.
As for pictures – huge lines of tourists line up to take pictures near the palm trees leaning into the water. Take a walk along the beach, you’re sure to find other no less picturesque places to take pictures, where there won’t be such an influx of guests.
Another important criterion is lunch. If we are talking about a budget, standard tour, lunch is served only on the island as a buffet, and in a more expensive program, tourists lunch on a boat or catamaran.
Many tourists note that the locals do not know how to cook pork, so it is better not to try meat dishes, and choose fish or seafood. It is also not recommended to take salads, seasoned with mayonnaise, as they spoil quickly in the heat. If you really want to remember the taste of mayonnaise, be sure to take the local rum, it will have antibacterial effect.
In expensive excursion programs there is a separate dining area only for one group and personal waiters.
The City of Artists is a gated community located in the upscale Casa de Campo complex. The look of the medieval artisan village was recreated by specialists from Paramount Pictures. The Chavon River, next to which the town is located, flows into the Caribbean Sea and was the location for the filming of the movie Anaconda.
If you want to fully enjoy the experience, spend your time in comfort, book a Saona Deluxe tour. Advantages of the trip:
- small group;
- Lobster is included in the price of lunch;
- photo session is provided;
- Mandatory visit to the City of Artists;
- Separate dining area.
In addition, a personalized tour for two or a helicopter program can be booked for Saona Island.
- Have a hearty breakfast before your trip.
- Be sure to take sunscreen and insect repellent.
- Do not forget the beach accessories – swimsuits, towels, you can not buy them on the island. Swimsuit better put on before the excursion, as in the port to do it nowhere.
- If possible, do not take a very expensive equipment on the island – you will have to constantly monitor it, so as not to lose it.
- Take money for extras – buying lobster or coconut oil.
Saona Island is a rare corner of the world where the amazing nature has remained untouched by man.
The most popular excursion in the Dominican Republic:
Author: Julia Matyukhina
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Saona Island – a tropical paradise without hotels. Dominican Republic
What beckons a simple man, and not simple too? What does he lack in the modern world? Probably a fairy tale. Each of us sometimes wants to escape from the daily problems, the noisy metropolis and the constant stress. And escape to some unspoiled tropical island.
Immediately comes to mind advertising Bounty candy bar, or rather the place where the commercial was filmed. It’s the island of Saona. It’s where you can see the paradisiacal landscapes with white sand and turquoise ocean. And this is where the commercial was shot.
By the way, after the release of the commercial, Saona Island was also called Bounty Island. It is located in the southeastern part of the country, and is separated from the main part of its beautiful and shallow lagoon.
Saona Island on the map
- Geographical coordinates 18.146985, -68.693528
- Distance from Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic: approximately 140 km
- To the nearest International Airport of Punta Cana about 60 km
Dominican Republic is generally known for its gorgeous beaches and paradise. It would seem that the island of Saona just have to be built up with hotels, but no. Here you will not find a single hotel or hotel.
The authorities of the Dominican Republic, trying to preserve the natural environment of the island, have prohibited the construction of hotels here. They rightly believe that the main feature of the island is its almost untouched ecosystem.
Saona is fully part of the Este National Park, which incidentally also covers some of the territory of the island of Haiti.
Saona Island was discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the shores of America. It happened on September 14, 1494.
Yes, Columbus was very lucky with tropical islands. Remember what a beauty he discovered on his first expedition and named it San Salvador.
The incredibly rich world of animals and plants of the island of Saona is widely known beyond its borders. Chic palm trees with their rustling plunge carefree tourists into nirvana. Mangroves in the coastal waters provide protection from predators. The gentle waters of the lagoon are home to starfish, which, although not as numerous as Boca del Drago Beach in Panama, still provide travelers with a lot of excitement and experience.
Just remember, it is highly recommended not to touch starfish with your hands and especially not to take them out of the water. They are very likely to die from it. Try to preserve what else our planet has left us.
In addition to seagulls and pigeons on the island live beautiful red and green parrots, iguanas and turtles. Numerous species of fish, moray eels, sea urchins and stingrays inhabit the waters surrounding the island. A little farther out in the ocean you can find manatees and graceful dolphins. The island has more than 500 species of plants, many of which are endemic, that is found only here.
In general, the idyll. But you can not consider the island of Saona uninhabited. There is a small population living in three fishing villages. In addition to fishing, locals moonlight making and selling souvenirs.
Tourists every year is increasing, and as such resorts on the island of Saona is not, so here are usually organized day trips from nearby towns in the main part of the country of Punta Cana and La Romana. During the tour, in addition to the paradise beaches, you will certainly be taken to the local caves. The most famous of them is considered to be the Cotubanama Cave. Locals say that in the early 16th century chief of the Taino Indian tribe named Cotubanama hid in it from the Spanish conquistadors.
The lagoon of Saona Island is insanely attractive. Although its depth is not more than one meter, it still attracts divers and ordinary fans of snorkeling. And the island is also popular as an exotic place for wedding ceremonies.
If you have a lot of money, you should pay attention to the island of Laukala. But note that you can be there only with a solid bank account.