Isla Saona tours

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Why is Saona Island so famous?

Saona Island is a dream with its divinely beautiful landscapes, the pre-sunset silence broken only by the conversations of birds, and sand that has absorbed the heat of the tropical sun. Once, the Taino Indians lived here, the inhabitants of the island, which they called sonorously and melodiously by the name Adamanay, and the discoverer of the island, Michele de Cuneo, was so delighted with its beauty that he named it after his hometown in Italy – Savona.

Saona Island is one of the most vibrant and unforgettable places in the Caribbean, which you can visit by catamaran, speedboat or yacht – an exclusive holiday for people who value comfort and luxury.

Saona Island is also known as Bounty Island. Yes, that same Bounty ad, in which a coconut fell to the ground, was filmed in this place, among tropical palm trees.

  • This is the largest island of the Dominican Republic, located in the province of La Romana. The island is located within a National Nature Reserve, so there are no hotels here, but only three small fishing villages. The area of the island is only 110 km2. Christopher Columbus was the first to discover the island of Saona in 1494.
  • There are many caves that the local Taino Indians once used. With the arrival of the Spaniards, the Indians hid in these caves, and one of them was named after their leader “Cotubanama Cave.”
  • On the island of Saona, 539 different species of plants grow, most of them are relict and are found only here. The abundance of palm trees, mangroves and beautiful white beaches attracts tourists who call it Bounty Island.
  • Tourists are brought on excursion yachts and are offered a comprehensive trip throughout the entire territory. The beaches are very shallow, some are up to one meter deep, which facilitates diving among the coral reefs.
  • The fauna is also rich. Turtles and iguanas, manatees, moray eels, stingrays, and dolphins, and in the warm shallow waters, starfish of various sizes and colors live and breed. The island is home to seagulls, pigeons, green parrots, storks, and other bird species. In the roots of mangroves, millions of young fish find refuge from predators. There are 40 different fish and 124 species of shellfish in coastal waters.

It’s worth mentioning the simply magical snorkeling, excursions, tours, and even helicopter VIP roundtrips that we can organize for you on the island of Saona!

Top Isla Saona tours you must visit

There are several tours and activities you can enjoy on Saona. Here are some of the best Isla Saona tours and experiences you should consider:

1. Saona Helicopter VIP Tour from Punta Cana

A helicopter excursion is always an adventure that can leave even the most capricious tourist in wild delight at the beauty of Saona seen from above. The entire tour is well organized and presented by our reliable partners who perfectly know every meter of the Dominican land and air in particular.

While a Saona helicopter VIP Tour is indeed a luxurious way to discover Saona, it is also more expensive compared to other tours.

2. Private full-day Isla Saona tour

This magnificent excursion, which includes visits to the Blue Lagoon, reef snorkeling, and mangrove forests, offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the natural beauty and marine life of Isla Saona. Here's what you can typically expect from such a tour:

  • You'll have the entire tour or a portion reserved exclusively for you and your group. This allows for a more personalized and intimate experience.
  • The Blue Lagoon is a stunning natural pool with shallow, crystal-clear waters. It's often the first stop on the tour, and you can take a dip, swim, or relax in this picturesque setting.
  • You'll have the chance to explore the vibrant underwater world of Isla Saona's coral reefs. Snorkeling equipment is provided, and experienced guides will lead you to the best snorkeling spots.
  • Your tour will likely include some leisure time on the island's beautiful beaches, where you can sunbathe, swim, and enjoy the serene surroundings.
  • You'll have the opportunity to visit the island's mangrove forests. These ecosystems are home to various bird species, marine life, and unique vegetation. It's a chance to appreciate the island's natural diversity.
  • The tour includes a delicious lunch with local cuisine, and you'll have opportunities for refreshments and beverages throughout the day.

By choosing this tour, you not only get to enjoy a luxurious and private day on Isla Saona but also contribute to the conservation efforts that help protect the island's unique natural environments. It's an opportunity to connect with the natural heritage and leave with a deeper appreciation for its ecological diversity.

3. 2-in-1 Saona Island and Altos de Chavon excursion

Altos de Chavon is a true Mediterranean village surrounded by Dominican nature. Restored in the seventies by the Italian architect Roberto Copa, this settlement houses a remarkable Greek-style amphitheater, an archaeological museum dedicated to the ancient inhabitants of the island – the Taino Indians, boutique shops, art galleries, salons and even an Academy where… The best artists teach the lines.

Next, you will continue the excursion and go on an exciting journey on high-speed boats to Saona Island – a nature reserve in the Eastern National Park, home to dolphins, flying fish, starfish, etc. This amazingly beautiful place was discovered by Columbus during his second voyage.

Along the way, you will stop at a natural pool in the Caribbean Sea, where you will have the opportunity to swim with starfish. White sandy beaches, coconut palms, rural wooden houses surrounded by crystal clear water – you will see all this on the island. Here you can swim in the sea, snorkel, or relax on the beach. You will be treated to a delicious traditional lunch and drinks.

How to choose good Isla Saona tours

When choosing an excursion, first of all, you must clarify the program and determine the maximum number of people in the group. Be sure to choose a program with a guide who speaks your language. There are guides who speak only Spanish and/or English and work with local residents.

Also, check whether a visit to the sea pool with stars is planned. Some programs include an excursion to the city of Artists – Altos de Chavon.

Find out which route the group will take. Traditionally, tourists are offered a visit to the natural pool with starfish and the city of Artists. Still, there are also expanded programs that include inspection of reed plantations and mangroves.

The next important question to ask the guide is what the beach will be like. The impression of the entire trip depends on the quality of the coast and sea; it would be a shame if it was spoiled by a nearby swamp or midges. There are enough exclusive beaches on Saona Island where you can relax comfortably, take photos, and enjoy the picturesque landscapes.

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

As for photographs, huge queues of tourists line up to take pictures near the palm trees leaning towards the water. Walking along the shore, you will probably find other equally picturesque places for taking pictures, where there will not be such an influx of guests.

Another important criterion is lunch. If we are talking about a budget, standard excursion, lunch is served only on the island in a buffet format, 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 spoil in the heat. If you really want to remember the taste of mayonnaise, take local rum, it will have an antibacterial effect.

Expensive programs provide a separate dining area for only one group and personal waiters.

As a conclusion

Visiting the Dominican Republic and not visiting Saona is equivalent to not climbing the Eiffel Tower while vacationing in Paris. Even though the island is considered the most popular tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, you can always take photos of the Cote d'Azur here without the influx of tourists and vacationers.


Frequently asked questions about
Isla Saona excursions

1. Is it worth visiting Saona Island?

Saona Island is a popular tourist destination in the southeastern Dominican Republic. It is known for its magnificent natural beauty, with white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush palm trees. Whether or not it’s worth visiting Saona Island depends on your tastes and what you’re looking for in a travel experience. Here are some points we recommend you to keep in mind:

  • Scenic beauty: Saona is renowned for its picturesque beaches and natural landscapes. If you enjoy pristine, tropical scenery, it can be a worthwhile destination.
  • Relaxation: The island offers a tranquil environment, making it an ideal spot for relaxation and unwinding. If you’re seeking a peaceful getaway, it can be a great choice.
  • Water activities: Saona Island is also popular for water-based activities like snorkeling and swimming. If you’re interested in exploring marine life and enjoying the ocean, it’s a good option.
  • Day trips: Many visitors visit Saona Island from nearby resorts in Punta Cana or Bayahibe. These excursions typically include transportation, meals, and guided tours. If you’re staying in one of these areas, it can be a convenient and enjoyable day trip.
  • Crowds: Saona Island can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. If you prefer quieter, more secluded destinations, you might consider less touristy alternatives in the Dominican Republic.
  • Environmental impact: Saona Island has faced some environmental challenges from tourism. It’s essential to be a responsible visitor and follow environmental guidelines to help protect this beautiful natural area.

Saona Island is worth visiting if you’re looking for a beautiful, relaxing, and nature-filled destination with opportunities for water activities. If you’re seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience, there are other quieter and less-visited islands and locations in the Dominican Republic that might better suit your preferences.

2. How long is the boat ride to Saona Island?

The boat ride to Saona Island’s beaches typically varies in duration depending on where you depart from. Here are some common points and their approximate ride durations to Saona Island:

  • Bayahibe: The boat ride usually takes around 30 to 45 minutes. Bayahibe is a popular starting point for Saona Island excursions.
  • Punta Cana: The road can take you around 2 to 2.5 hours. Day trips from Punta Cana to Saona Island typically include transportation by bus and then a boat ride.
  • La Romana: If you depart from La Romana, it can take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. La Romana is also a common departure point for Isla Saona tours.

Check this info with your tour operator for the most accurate and up-to-date information, as they can vary depending on factors like weather conditions and the specific tour package you choose.

3. How do I get to Isla Saona?

To get to Isla Saona, you’ll typically need to take a boat or a catamaran from the mainland. Usually, tours are organized from various locations, such as Bayahibe, Punta Cana, and La Romana. Here are the general steps to get to Isla Saona:

  • Depending on where you are staying in the Dominican Republic, you can choose a departure point that’s most convenient for you. The primary departure points for Isla Saona tours are Bayahibe, Punta Cana, and La Romana.
  • You can book a guided tour to Isla Saona through a tour operator or your resort. These tours often include transportation to the departure point, the boat or catamaran ride to Isla Saona, meals, and guided activities.
  • On the day of your tour, you’ll travel to the designated departure point, where you’ll board a boat or catamaran. The boat ride to Isla Saona is part of the tour, and it typically includes stops for snorkeling, swimming, and enjoying the scenic beauty of the area.
  • Once you arrive at Isla Saona, you’ll have several hours to explore and enjoy the island. You can relax on the beaches, swim in the crystal-clear waters, take part in beach activities, and savor a meal provided as part of your tour.
  • After your time on Isla Saona, you’ll board the boat or catamaran for the return journey to the mainland.
  • You’ll return to the departure point, and from there, you can either go back to your resort or continue with any additional activities included.

Please book your tour in advance. Additionally, remember that Isla Saona is a protected area, so be a responsible visitor and follow any environmental guidelines provided by your tour operator to help preserve its natural beauty.

4. How long does it take to get from Punta Cana to Saona Island?

The boat ride from Punta Cana to Saona Island typically takes around 2 to 2.5 hours one way. It’s a full-day excursion, and you’ll have several hours to enjoy the island’s attractions before returning to Punta Cana. The specific travel time can vary based on your tour operator and sea conditions.

5. Does anyone live on Saona Island?

Saona Island is a relatively small and uninhabited island located off the southeastern coast of the DR. While there may be some temporary residents or workers, there is no permanent residential population on the island.

Tourism is the primary activity on Saona Island, with visitors coming on day trips from nearby areas like Bayahibe, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, and La Romana to enjoy its scenic beauty and engage in various activities, but it is not a place where people permanently reside.

6. What animals are on Saona Island?

On Saona Island, you can find birds like frigatebirds and pelicans, various fish and sea turtles in the waters, iguanas, crabs, and sometimes manatees. It’s also home to a variety of insects and butterflies.

7. What movie was filmed of Saona Island?

Saona Island has been featured in a few movies and TV productions. One notable film that was partially filmed on Saona Island is “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003). The island’s stunning beaches and natural beauty served as a backdrop for some scenes in the movie.

8. Can you stay on Isla Saona?

There are no hotels directly on Isla Saona. The island is primarily a protected natural reserve and a popular tourist day-trip destination. Visitors typically access Saona on guided day trips, and they spend several hours on the island before returning to their respective accommodations on the mainland.

9. Can you snorkel on Saona Island?

Yes, you can go snorkeling on Saona Island. The clear and pristine waters surrounding Saona Island provide excellent opportunities for snorkeling. Many guided tours to Saona Island include snorkeling as one of the activities. Snorkelers can explore the underwater world, observe colorful fish, corals, and other marine life.

If you want to snorkel on Saona Island, we advise you to join a full guided tour. The necessary equipment, safety instructions, access to the best snorkeling spots, lunch with soft drinks, Blue Lagoon stop with open bar, and 5-6 hours stay at the best Saona Island beach are included.

10. What ocean is Saona Island in?

Saona Island is located in the Caribbean Sea. Specifically, it is part of the Greater Antilles in the western Caribbean. The island is situated off the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, and it is known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters in the Caribbean Sea.

11. How do you get from Santo Domingo to Saona Island?

Traveling from Santo Domingo to Saona Island involves a journey by road and boat. Here are the general steps:

  • Most Isla Saona tours depart from the towns of Bayahibe or La Romana, which are located on the mainland. From Santo Domingo, you can take a bus, drive, or hire a taxi to reach either of these towns. The journey takes approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and your starting point in Santo Domingo.
  • Once you arrive in Bayahibe or La Romana, you must join a guided tour to Saona Island. These tours typically include transportation to the departure point on the mainland and a boat ride to the island. It’s advisable to book your tour in advance.
  • The boat ride from Bayahibe or La Romana to Saona Island takes ~ 30-45 minutes, depending on sea conditions. During this ride, you can enjoy the scenic views of the Caribbean Sea.
  • After arriving at Saona Island, you’ll have several hours to explore and enjoy its attractions, including its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters.
  • At the end of your visit to Saona Island, you’ll board the boat for the return trip to Bayahibe or La Romana.
  • Once you’re back on the mainland, you can arrange transportation back to Santo Domingo, whether it’s by bus, taxi, or private vehicle.

The journey’s duration can vary based on the specific tour operator, sea conditions, and traffic, so it’s a good idea to check with your chosen tour provider for the most accurate information on departure times and travel times.

12. How do I get from Punta Cana to Saona Island?

To get from Punta Cana to Saona, you can take a guided tour, which typically includes transportation and a boat ride. Here are the general steps to reach Saona Island from Punta Cana:

  • Start by booking a guided tour to Saona Island. Numerous tour operators in Punta Cana offer day trips to Saona Island, which are convenient and often all-inclusive.
  • Your tour operator will provide transportation from your hotel or resort in Punta Cana to the departure point for the boat ride. This transfer is usually included in the tour package.
  • The boat ride from Punta Cana to Saona Island typically takes ~2 to 2.5 hours. This journey is part of the tour experience and may include stops for snorkeling or other activities.
  • After you visit Saona Island, you will board the boat to return to Punta Cana.
  • Upon returning to Punta Cana, your tour operator will arrange transportation back to your hotel or resort.

Booking guided Isla Saona tours is the most common and convenient way to reach it. The well-organized tours typically include all the necessary arrangements, making it a hassle-free experience for visitors.

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