Is it worth to visit Saona Island in the Dominican Republic?
Are you planning a holiday on the Saona? Do you want to find out how to get to the Saona Island? Is it possible to stay overnight on a paradise island? Is it really worth visiting this place? Check out all the most important information about Saona Island!
Without a doubt, Saona Island is one of the must-see places in the Dominican Republic. Saona is featured in every advertisement for travel agencies offering trips to the Dominican Republic. The beaches of this paradise island are famous for their wonderful sandy beaches and turquoise water surrounding this piece of land. Of course, we cannot forget about the famous Saone palm trees, with which everyone takes a photo!
- About Saona Island
- How to get to Saona Island?
- How to organize a trip? zorganizować wycieczkę?
- How much does a trip to the Saona cost?
- Organizing a trip to the Saona Island on your own
- Transport to Mano Juan from Bayahibe
- Entrance ticket to the National Park
- What you can see during trip to the Saona Island?
- What can you do on the island?
- Can you stay overnight on the Saona Island?
- What to take with you on a trip to the Saona Island?
- Is it worth visiting the island of Saona?
About Saona Island
Immersed in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Saona Island is a true jewel of the Dominican Republic. Saona is part of the East National Park and is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in the Caribbean, attracting tourists from all over the world. Beautiful white beaches and the Dominican climate make Saona Island an ideal place for rest and relaxation.
How to get to Saona Island?
Saona Island is located off the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, approximately 25 km from the main town of Bayahibe. The route to Bayahibe from Punta Cana is approximately 1 hour via toll highway. The easiest way to get to the island is by speedboat or catamaran. During the trip, you can admire amazing views and see various forms of marine fauna. I had the opportunity of seeing beautiful sea turtles, starfish, flying fish and, of course, lots of birds!
How to organize a trip?
As in most cases, you can organize a trip to the Saona Island on your own. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can find plenty of travel agencies that offer trips to the Saona Island. It is worth adding that travel agencies often offer trips with guides who speak a specific language – this is certainly a big help if you don’t speak Spanish.
How much does a trip to the Saona cost?
A trip from a travel agency costs from USD 80 – depending on the tour package, i.e. the number of beaches visited, the language of the guide, and your starting location. For example, trips from Bayahibe will be cheaper than from Punta Cana (because the cost of transportation is lower).
Organizing a trip to the Saona Island on your own
If you want, you can also organize a trip to the Saona on your own. You must arrive at the port of Bayahibe in the morning (preferably before 9 am) and be patient (really!). As soon as you enter the port, you will be surrounded by tour sellers (or person callas “brokers”) of tours. There is a parking lot at the port, but I recommend to negotiate the price for parking your car.
Now the hardest part and the worst in my opinion – walking on the harbor beach, asking about the price and negotiating. If you are good at it or have experience, you will definitely do better than me. The prices of trips from Punta Cana may give you an indication of how much you should pay if you want a similar service. Remember to ask about every detail of the trip – from the duration to the meals and drinks included in the price.
If you agree on the price of the trip, MAKE SURE to ask whether the wristband (entrance ticket to the national park) is included in the price and whether the price includes a meal!— TravelOverSky advises
Transport to Mano Juan from Bayahibe
From the port of Bayahie, you can also take a boat to the village of Mano Juan on Saona Island. The boat leaves the port to Mano Juan at approximately 9:30 a.m., returning from Mano Juan is approximately 2:30 p.m. The cost of this route is about 2,000 DOP (35 USD) both ways, you pay before entering or disembarking (it depends). Here, I also recommend asking carefully about the return times and agreeing on the price before you get on the boat.
Entrance ticket to the National Park
Due to the fact that Saona Island is part of a national park, you must have a ticket wristband, which confirms payment of the fee and is a permit to stay in the park. If you buy an organized trip through the agency, the entrance ticket should be already included in the price.
The wristband itself costs 400 DOP (7 USD), you can buy it at the sales point at the port in Bayahibe. This is where you also buy your ticket – a wristband to Catalina Island.
What you can see during trip to the Saona Island?
Canto De La Playa
This is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. White sand, palm trees and turquoise water – you don’t need anything else!
Playa El Toro
Playa El Toro made the slightest impression on me and from conversations with other people, I found out that I was not the only one who felt this way.
There is a lot of algae, birds (their excrements) on the beach and unfortunately the smell is very bad. The beach is on the tour program because it is located on a spit. There is a lagoon behind the beach. Although the beach does not make much of an impression from sea level, it is truly beautiful from a bird’s eye view!
During Saona trips, some tours also include a short tour of the nearby mangrove forests. Mangrove forests are very common in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean region, so they didn’t make much of an impression on me. If you have never seen mangrove forests in real life, it will definitely be interesting for you.
Mano Juan is the only inhabited village on the island. There are only about 500 permanent inhabitants of the village. It is a tiny fishing village where some tours stop for lunch. After lunch, there is free time to spend on the beach or walking around Mano Juan.
The place that you must see during this trip is undoubtedly the Natural Pool. There are quite a lot of places like this in the Dominican Republic. These are large areas of accumulated sand that raise the depth of the ocean. In these places, the water reaches, for example, waist-deep, even though you are quite far from the shore.
You can also see numerous starfish in the Natural Pool! These animals are really beautiful, but unfortunately for tourists they are something you have to take a photo with. Pulling starfish out of the water, even for a few seconds, causes the animals to suffocate and, deprived of oxygen, they die within 3–5 minutes. Also remember that handling a starfish is a huge stress for it, which can also lead to death.
I think it’s better to admire these animals at the bottom of the ocean in their natural habitat, leaving them alone, rather than trying to force yourself to take photos with them…
Remember this, because there are still a lot of people who have no idea about this or simply don’t care whether the animal dies or not during their photo session.
What can you do on the island?
The water around the island is rich in coral reefs, and therefore also in various species of fish and other sea creatures that you can admire while diving. Therefore, if you took snorkeling equipment with you, pack it in your backpack for a trip to Saona Island.
Can you stay overnight on the Saona Island?
Yes! In the fishing village of Mano Juan there are several accommodations where you can stay overnight. Of course, you have to take into account more rustic conditions, but staying overnight on the paradise island of Saona is definitely worth it.
Prices for a night in a tent on the beach start from 25 USD per person, but for a room you have to pay from about 75 USD per person.
What to take with you on a trip to the Saona Island?
When packing for a trip, don’t forget about:
- creams with SPF filter
- cap or hat
- mask and snorkel
- If, like me, you don’t like to sunbathe too much – I recommend wearing a long-sleeved shirt made of airy material – it will definitely help you protect your upper body from the sun.
If your trip does not include meals and drinks, don’t forget about enough water and take snacks with you.
Is it worth visiting the island of Saona?
I must admit that I have been to the Saona Island twice and each time I was delighted with the views and nature. The Caribbean islands have their own charm and delight almost every tourist. I haven’t met a single person who didn’t like this island. One million tourists visit the island every year. Due to the enormous popularity of this place, it is certainly better to visit it outside the high season and as early as possible. Saona is definitely one of the must-see places in the Dominican Republic!
In the Dominicana tab you can find more useful information and recommendations about this country.
I love sharing my travels, experiences, thoughts and self-tested advices. A travel blog is also a bit of work that I do drinking coffee.