Tourist’s guide to Saona Island – a paradise in the Dominican Republic

Tourist’s guide to Saona Island – a paradise in the Dominican Republic

View of Saona Island

Saona Island, reminiscent of a paradise, is called the heart and soul of the Dominican Republic, as well as the diamond of the Caribbean. Locals say that to visit the Dominican Republic and not to visit Saona is equivalent to the fact that, while relaxing in Paris, you will not climb the Eiffel Tower. Despite the fact that the island is considered the most tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, here you can always take photos on the azure coast without the influx of tourists and vacationers. To be on the island, it is enough to buy a tour from a private guide or from a tour operator.

Photo: Saona Island, Dominican Republic

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General information about Saona Island

Discovered the island of Saona in the Dominican Republic in the fall of 1494, Christopher Columbus. The name is associated with various conjectures and theories. According to one version of Saona – a city in Italy, where he lived a close friend of Columbus Michele de Cuneo. He was the first to see the shore and pointed to Columbus. Michele de Cuneo later took over as governor of the island. By the way, the authorities of the Italian city and islands maintain friendly relations.

Saona Island

There is another version – the island is named after the daughter of a traveler who traveled with the famous navigator, Bella Savonessa.

Useful information for tourists:

  • The area of ​​the island is 112 square meters. km .;
  • the island is 12 km long and almost 5 km wide;
  • the island is 800 m from the coast of the Dominican Republic;
  • the depth of the sea near Saona – 100 m;
  • the island surface is a plain, the only elevation is Mount Punta Balaju.

Saona seems to be a deserted and uninhabited island, however, there are settlements where mainly local fishermen live, in addition, the military are based here.

Good to know! It is impossible to build hotels on the island, respectively, only one-day excursions.

Sailboat near Saona Island

The island became famous thanks to the famous advertising of the Bounty bars. The infomercial promised an unearthly pleasure from refreshments, but many, first of all, drew attention to the amazing nature and azure-colored water around the island. It is not surprising that millions of tourists around the world wanted to visit a small island in the Caribbean to see amazing landscapes with their own eyes, stroll along the soft, white sand, soak up the shade of palm trees and swim in the clear, azure sea.

Photo: Saona, Dominican Republic

Interesting fact! Some mistakenly think that filming of Pirates of the Caribbean took place on the island. Jack Sparrow’s adventure saga was filmed in Dominica.

Why visit the island

The length of the coastline with picturesque beaches is several kilometers, however, tourists are brought to the places equipped for relaxation where there are sun loungers, you can organize a buffet. These sections of the coast are regularly cleaned and treated from insects.

If you want to be in a more exotic place, book an individual tour or photo shoot. As a rule, food and drinks are included in the price of the trip.

Good to know! If you plan on surfing, check out Macau Beach.

Snorkeling near Saona Island

Experienced tourists say that snorkeling on the island of Saona is one of the best in the Dominican Republic – clean water, lack of algae and a rich sea world. Guides will definitely tell you where are the best places for swimming in a mask.

Saona can be called a nature reserve, since 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 mangrove groves, there are areas with impenetrable jungle and swamps, many coconut palms, banana trees, papaya grow, even there is a rare mahogany, cedars.

Parrots live in the crowns of trees, and in total 112 species of birds are found on the island. From May to mid-autumn turtles swim to the shores of Saona for laying eggs. In the waters near the island there are 120 species of marine inhabitants, more than 120 species of mollusks and dozens of different corals, you can also find dolphins, stingrays.

Starfish near Saona Island

Off the coast of the island is the largest natural pool with a depth of just one meter, where starfish live. Each excursion necessarily stops near this sandbank for snorkeling. When choosing an excursion tour, keep in mind that not all travel agencies know “hot” places where there are really enough starfish and few tourists.

Important! On the territory of the Dominican Republic, a law is in force that aims to protect and increase the population of starfish. According to the document, it is strictly forbidden to take marine inhabitants out of the water, but you can take pictures and shoot videos.

Excursions to the island of Saona from the resorts of the Dominican Republic

Of course, a trip to the island of Saona is a must during a trip to the Dominican Republic. Each travel agency will tell you that it would be an unforgivable mistake to fly to the Dominican Republic and not take photos with starfish. At first glance, everything is simple – buy a tour, swim to the island and enjoy your vacation. But organizational issues should be treated with great attention.

Excursions on the island of Saona

The price of the excursion to the island of Saona depends on:

On average, the cost of excursions to the island of Saona in the Dominican Republic varies from $ 65 to $ 250 per person. Also, when calculating the price, the location of the beach on the island is taken into account – the cleaner and more beautiful the coast, the more expensive the guide will have to pay, and the dishes that are included in the lunch.

Be prepared for the fact that the beach where you will be brought is located next to a marshland, where there are many mosquitoes and other insects. All beaches are equipped with sun loungers, deck chairs, umbrellas. Of course, the quality of the beach is the main criterion for choosing a 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 is 30-35 people.

The transport is provided comfortable – with air conditioning, the only difference is roominess. Buses can accommodate from 25 to 50 people, it depends on how many hotels the transport will take, and accordingly, the time spent collecting the group. As for water transport, speedboats deliver the group to the island, and for the return trip a comfortable catamaran is provided where you can dance, drink rum and relax.

Sightseeing bus

Each trip to Saona in the Dominican Republic involves lunch. As a rule, this is a buffet, the set of dishes depends on the cost of the trip. The traditional menu – chicken, fish, seafood, as a side dish of potatoes, pasta, rice, always serve salads and seasonal fruits. If desired, you can buy lobster, the cost is from $ 25 to $ 40. The choice of drinks is quite diverse – local rum, sprite, juices, beer, water.

The standard excursion program to the island of Saona in the Dominican Republic is as follows.

– Tourists are taken from the hotel at about 7-30, as the bus calls at several hotels, the journey to the port takes about 1.5 hours, the Russian-speaking guide.

– In the port, the group changes to a speedboat and leaves for the island.

Boat with tourists

– After a quarter of an hour, the boat stops in a natural pool so that tourists can 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 unusual. The stop will last approximately 30 minutes. Remember that pulling starfish out of the water is strictly forbidden; without water, they quickly die.

– After a quarter of an hour, the group arrives on the island and before lunch, tourists walk, enjoy the beauties, take pictures. Saona Island welcomes guests with loud music, but if you wish, you can find a secluded, quiet area. There is a beach bar on the shore where you can buy drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. A dining table is served on the beach at about one in the afternoon. After lunch, animators begin their work – tourists are taught to dance salsa and bachata.

– At 15-00, tourists leave the island. The return trip is always more fun, because tourists are already familiar with each other, and alcoholic drinks drunk during lunch also affect. At the request of tourists, the catamaran stops at the reefs. To the fun music, with dancing and drinks, the road to the hotel will fly by unnoticed.

When choosing a tour, first of all, you need to clarify the program and find out 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 local residents.

Also check if you plan to visit the sea pool with the stars. Some programs include an excursion to the city of Artists – Altos de Chavon.

Good to know! The capacity of the catamaran is 100 people, so often sightseeing buses are combined and several groups travel by sea.

Specify which route the group will move. Traditionally, tourists are offered a visit to the natural pool with starfish and the city of Artists, but there are also extended programs, including an inspection of reed plantations and mangroves.

The next question that is important to ask the guide is what the beach will be like. The impression of the whole trip depends on the quality of the coast and the sea, it’s a shame if it is spoiled by the nearby swamp, midges. On the island of Saona, there are enough exclusive beaches where you can relax comfortably, take beautiful photos, enjoy the picturesque landscapes.

Advice! If you find yourself in a large group of tourists, once on the island, immediately take a sun lounger or a sunbed – after lunch you will want to relax calmly and comfortably.

As for the photographs, huge lines of tourists line up to take pictures near palm trees leaning toward the water. Take a walk along the coast, for sure you will find other no less picturesque places for pictures where there will not be such an influx of guests.

Cafe Dish

Another important criterion is lunch. If we are talking about a budget, standard excursion, lunch is served only on the island in buffet style, and in a more expensive program, tourists dine on a boat or catamaran.

Many tourists note that local residents do not know how to cook pork, so it is better not to try meat dishes, but to choose fish or seafood. It is also not recommended to take salads dressed with mayonnaise, as they quickly deteriorate in the heat. If you really want to remember the taste of mayonnaise, be sure to take a local rum, it will have an antibacterial effect.

In expensive excursion programs, there is a separate dining area for only one group and personal waiters.

City of Artists

City of Artists is a closed territory located in the elite complex Casa de Campo. The appearance of the medieval village of artisans was recreated by specialists from Paramount Pictures. The Chavon River, near which the city is located, flows into the Caribbean Sea. filming of the film “Anaconda” took place here.

  • small group
  • lobsters are included in the price of lunch;
  • a photo shoot is provided;
  • obligatory visit to the city of Artists;
  • separate dining area.

In addition, on the island of Saona, you can order an individual tour for two or a program by helicopter.

Useful Tips

  1. Have a hearty breakfast before you go.
  2. Be sure to bring sunscreen and insect repellent with you.
  3. Do not forget beach accessories – bathing suits, towels, it is impossible to buy them on the island. It is better to wear a swimsuit before the start of the excursion, since there is nowhere to do it in the port.
  4. If possible, do not take very expensive equipment to the island – you will have to constantly monitor it so as not to lose.
  5. Take the money for extra costs – buying lobsters or coconut oil.

Saona Island is a rare corner in the world where amazing nature is preserved, untouched by man.