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Is it worth visiting Saona Island?

Is this place really that beautiful?

Located southeast of the Dominican Republic and an hour and a quarter from Punta Cana, Saona Island is a small hidden paradise in the Caribbean Sea that very few people know about. It is a beautiful natural area that is protected to maintain the lushness of its flora and preserve the diversity of its fauna.

As we have already mentioned, it is only 55 kilometers away from Punta Cana, making it one of the most requested excursions. Our meeting point is located near La Romana, in Bayahibe. From here you can take one of the many boats that leave for Saona Island and enjoy a relaxing day in the sun. The best of all is that on our excursion you will make this journey by catamaran! The return to Bayahibe is done in a speedboat, which is also very exciting.

If you are spending your vacation somewhere further away, like Santo Domingo, don't worry. From there you can take a bus that passes through La Romana and ends its journey in Bayahibe, from where our boats leave for Saona Island.

Perhaps you are thinking of organizing your own trip to the island to enjoy the landscapes on your own. Unfortunately, this is not possible. As it is a protected space, it is necessary to request permission and pay a fee.

For this reason, the best and most advisable thing is to hire our excursion since we facilitate the procedures and you do not have to think about anything other than enjoying yourself (while respecting natural spaces, of course).

In addition, our organized trips include a specialized guide, boat trips, and even a buffet at lunchtime where you can savor a huge lobster weighing more than a pound. Sounds appetizing, right?

In Isla Saona there are many activities that you can do: sail the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea by boat, acquire that Caribbean tan for which everyone will envy you when you return from your vacations, swim in one of its beaches and get your feet wet in the shore or admire the beauty of its nature, since the landscapes of Saona Island cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Are you going to miss it?

What to see and what to do?

If you are still not convinced to visit Isla Saona, pay attention to our post in which we show you all the things that this small (but great) paradise can offer you thanks to our excursions to the island.

Natural pool

Saona Island has some spectacular natural pools of light blue waters that barely cover, they are only one meter deep, so you can enjoy a relaxing bath without waves.

In addition, only on the Saona with Mano Juan excursion will you have the opportunity to snorkel in the Cotubanama natural pool, which is one of the largest. Thanks to its transparent waters you will be able to see the famous (and gigantic) Caribbean starfish.

Natural pool saona island

Canto de la playa

In our tour with Mano Juan we include a visit to the coastal area of Canto de la playa. Here you will discover an unforgettable landscape: a beach with crystal clear waters and fine sand with palm trees everywhere.

Canto de la playa can only be visited by boat, which is why our tour with Mano Juan includes a speedboat to enjoy the tranquility of a beach that is not overcrowded at all.

If you are hesitating between hiring the classic excursion to Isla Saona or the tour with Mano Juan, we can assure you that it is worth the latter to be able to contemplate the beauty of Canto de la playa.

Sea turtle sanctuary

Located in Mano Juan, the visit to the Sea Turtle Sanctuary is another of the main attractions of this small fishing village.

For years, the whole world has been focused on the care and preservation of turtles, since due to inappropriate behavior by human beings we could end up with a species that does so much for our seas and oceans.

Therefore, the existence of this sanctuary is crucial to keep alive the sea turtles that reside in the waters of the Caribbean Sea and that walk along the shores of Saona Island and the rest of the Dominican Republic.

If you want to know how they protect these curious animals, our tour with Mano Juan takes you to their facilities where you will learn thousands of interesting things.

Thanks to initiatives such as this sanctuary located in Mano Juan, the population of sea turtles has grown more than 500% a year in the Dominican Republic. Isn't that just great?

Santuario tortugas marinas mano juan

Catuano Beach

At the north end we find Playa Catuano, quite similar to the other beaches except for one thing: there you will find a souvenir market where you can buy a souvenir to never forget your great little adventure to Saona Island.

What's the weather?

The tropical climate of Isla Saona makes its days hot and sunny. That will not be a problem since we will enjoy several baths in its magnificent waters.

However, to carry out any of our tours to the island it is recommended to wear a cap or hat, as well as sunglasses. In addition, it is essential that you keep track of the times you have applied sunscreen. You will spend many hours in the sun, so it is not worth one time. Protect yourself.

Are there hotels to stay?

If you plan to spend the night on Saona Island, you should know that it is a practically uninhabited island. There are only two towns: Mano Juan and Catuano. In Mano Juan you can find a small resort on the beachfront that has the basics.

However, if you are looking for a more elaborate service, it is best to look for accommodation somewhere nearby such as Bayahibe, Punta Cana or Santo Domingo.

What movies have been recorded on Saona Island?

Did you know that Saona Island also appears in the movies? You may not have recognized it, but we assure you that, after taking our excursions, when you return home you will see the following films to relive the landscapes of your amazing trip.

Pirates of the Caribbean

That's right, Pirates of the Caribbean has some scenes on the beautiful white sand beaches of Isla Saona. The famous pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, along with his crew, were surprised by the beauty of the landscapes that this paradisiacal place leaves us.

Did you recognize his scenes in the movies?

Blue Lagoon

But, without a doubt, if there is a film that represents the jungle landscapes of Saona Island well, that is Blue Lagoon.

In 1980, the director of the film, Randal Kleiser, chose the nature of this natural space to carry out his project. If you haven't seen Blue Lagoon, this is about two young people who are shipwrecked on a desert island and must survive with what it offers them. They build their own shelter out of palm fronds, feed on the fish they manage to catch, and work together to resist the dangers they face. They eventually end up falling in love and continue their romance once they are rescued.

But the thing is, who wouldn't fall in love living on Saona Island? Its tropical jungle, its waters full of little fish and turtles, is a paradise on earth. With our excursion you will be able to experience all this and more (except for the part of the shipwreck, clearly).

blue lagoon film

How to get to Saona Island?

Isla Saona has very good connections both by land and by sea. The meeting point of our excursions is located near La Romana, but a bus will pick you up at your hotel.

Depending on the excursion chosen, you will follow a different itinerary. In the case of the classic tour, your adventure begins in Bayahibe with a catamaran that will take you to Saona Island. Bayahibe is the point of origin of most of the boats that leave for this natural space. On the other hand, the tour will take you first to Mano Juan to visit the Sea Turtle Sanctuary.

In short, Isla Saona is not far from the main tourist areas of the Dominican Republic, so you have no excuse not to visit this paradise. In the following map you can check its proximity to Punta Cana and other cities of interest such as Santo Domingo.

Who lives on Saona Island?

With an area of about 110 square kilometers and taking into account that it is a protected natural area, the island has a population of no more than 1,200 people, approximately.

It is considerably uninhabited. In it you will only find two tiny towns: Mano Juan and Catuano, which are nothing more than fishing villages oriented towards tourism.

What animals can we find?

In addition to the different species of sea turtles that are protected thanks to the sanctuary located in Mano Juan, Saona Island has a rich fauna and a whole series of the most extraordinary animals.

In fact, most of the species that belong to the Cotubanamá National Park (a total of 539) are concentrated on the island. Within the birds we find green parrots, which are in danger of extinction, waders or beach gulls. Other residents of the island are dolphins, manatees, and rhinoceros iguanas, named for the three "horns" located on their heads.

Not only this, when you snorkel on our Saona excursion with Mano Juan you will be able to discover a whole range of fish, up to 40 different species! The calm of the waters and their clarity will make you have no problem recognizing the enormous diversity that the Caribbean Sea hides in Saona Island.

Finally, one of the biggest tourist attractions on the island are the starfish that you will find in the natural pool of Cotubanama. Thanks to its shallow depth and its crystal clear water you will be able to observe these curious underwater living beings without any problem.

The disparity of species that can be discovered on Saona Island is what has led it to be considered one of the most important ecological reserves in the entire Dominican Republic.

starfish saona island

Who is the owner?

The name is given by Christopher Columbus when he set foot on the island for the first time on September 14, 1494. Previously it had the name of Adamanay.

As for whether it has an owner or not, Saona Island is part of the Cotubanamá National Park (formerly the Eastern National Park) and, therefore, is not owned by anyone since it is a protected natural area.

Geographically it belongs to La Romana, more specifically to the province of La Altagracia, whose coasts are only 19 kilometers away.

Where can I book the excursion to Isla Saona?

Now that you know everything about Isla Saona, there is only one thing missing: book your excursion to visit it!

Our excursions will not disappoint you, whether you hire the classic tour or the exclusive tour of Saona with Mano Juan. Your experience in this paradise will be unforgettable.

If you are interested in other excursions, here are some other ideas that may interest you.

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