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History of the fishing village of Mano Juan

A charming villa a few meters from Saona Island

There is a small village south of Saona Island where its inhabitants are dedicated to fishing, which has a special charm and has become a unique tourist attraction. The fauna and flora of the place, located in the Cotubanamá National Park, make it a paradise of great beauty.

The town is called Mano Juan, and today we want to delve into its history. Join us to discover the origins of this enclave located in the middle of a natural reserve between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Origin of the town of Mano Juan

The origin of this people and the island on which it is located goes back to the first inhabitants of Hispaniola, where the Dominican Republic is located.

Tainos arrived in this territory centuries ago, although it is still not known where they came from.  What is known is that the Cotubanamá tribe was the first to settle in what is now the town of Mano Juan and its surroundings, coming from Bayahibe.

Origen del pueblo de Mano Juan

The arrival of the Spaniards in 1494

On September 15, 1949, during the second voyage of Christopher Columbus and his crew, the Spanish arrived in Hispaniola. At that time the Cotubanamá chief decided to leave Bayahibe and take his tribe to Adamanay, which in Taino means Island of Refuge. There they settled with the intention of protecting themselves from the Spanish colonists.

The name Saona Island is due to the fact that one of Christopher Columbus' crew members was an Italian who, upon observing Adamanay, said: "what a beautiful savona", and from then on it became known as Savona Island. Later, the island came to be called Saona, the name by which it is known today.

The idea of the Americans to convert it into a military base in the twentieth century.

In the 1940s, the United States government set its sights on Saona Island, which by that time was uninhabited, in order to convert it into a strategic military site in the Caribbean Sea.

However, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who ruled the territory at the time, opposed this initiative as much as he could. In the end, a base was built to the north of the island, but in order to avoid a diplomatic conflict, the entire island was not occupied.

In order to prevent Saona Island from being colonized by others, Trujillo decided to send several families to found a peasant community to cultivate the land and develop cattle raising. This is how the village of Mano Juan was founded, with 12 families who went there with the promise of prosperity, and to serve the Americans who were in the north of the island.

The settlers were provided from the beginning with houses, a school, a hospital and a church, an environment in which they could work and develop a community that would invite others to join them.

The main activity is fishing and agriculture

Faithful to its origins, for decades the inhabitants of Mano Juan dedicated themselves to agriculture, taking advantage of the perfect conditions of the land for the growth of vegetation and the feeding of animals.

The environment has also been used for fishing, the main source of wealth today, along with tourism.

In 1975, Saona Island was declared part of the Cotubanamá natural reserve, in order to protect the native flora and fauna of the area and to protect the environment. To this end, agriculture and livestock exploitation was prohibited, so fishing was boosted along with a flourishing tourism offer with activities such as diving, where many visitors come in boats eager to spend a good day enjoying the scenery that provides swimming among turtles and lying on the beach watching the horizon.

Mano Juan today has about 500 inhabitants, who are engaged in fishing and offer businesses that serve tourists. Their houses are made of wood, and stand out as an additional attraction for the bright colors with which they are decorated.

Lancha pesquera Mano Juan

How can you book an excursion to the village of Mano Juan?

If you want to experience in person the atmosphere of Mano Juan, practice scuba diving and observe the extraordinary flora and fauna of the place, JackCana Tours offers you an excursion that goes to this fishing village with history. An excursion you will not forget.

You can book it from here.

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