Saona Island – or in Spanish Isla Saona – is the preferred vacationer attraction within the Dominican Republic. Hundreds of vacationers are visiting the attractive island each day and even it sounds fairly touristy, it resembles the Caribbean dream. Simply think about, you’re cruising on a laid-back catamaran whereas feeling the ocean breeze blowing by way of your hair and sipping at a typical Cuba libre. As soon as on the island, you possibly can get pleasure from picture-perfect seashores with Caribbean music, swaying palm bushes and contemporary Pina Colada served within the pineapple whereas floating within the deeply coloured turquoise ocean. That’s a dream in paradise? Effectively, that’s what you possibly can count on out of your tour when being on an Isla Saona tour.
Isla Saona is a part of essentially the most thrilling sights within the space. To take a look at more amazing things to do in Punta Cana, continue reading here.
If you’re in search of some personal excursions to Saona Island as an alternative of group excursions, you can check out this article.
And for those who really feel that Isla Saona will get visited by too many vacationers, it’s also possible to check out the little sister of Saona Island, Isla Catalina.
Fully UPDATED April 2021
The place is the Isla Saona situated?
Isla Saona is a part of the Parque Nacional del Este and is situated on the south coast of the Dominican Republic, roughly midway between Santo Domingo and Punta Cana within the Bayahibe space. The island is situated within the southern a part of the nationwide park and is separated from the mainland by a pure channel. The gap to the opposite island the place you are able to do excursions to, Isla Catalina, is roughly 15 miles. Read a full review of Isla Catalina here.
All boat journeys to Saona Island begin in Bayahibe, so irrespective of if you’re coming from Santo Domingo, Punta Cana or elsewhere within the Dominican Republic, you all the time head to Bayahibe by land transport (or helicopter* if in case you have some spare change 😉 ). Relying on the lodge you’re staying at, the journey time from Punta Cana (or Bavaro, Macao or Uvero Alto) to Isla Saona is between 60 and 90 minutes, from Santo Domingo it’s a little lower than 2 hours to Bayahibe.
As soon as in Bayahibe the journey to succeed in Isla Saona is between 30 (pace boat) and 90 minutes (catamaran).
Each, land transport and the journey on the ocean are already included in the typical excursions you can book for Saona Island*.
In case you’ve a rental car, it’s also possible to journey to Bayahibe by your self and begin the tour from there.
The perfect Saona Island excursions
If you wish to go on an tour to Isla Saona (from Punta Cana or elsewhere), you’ve totally different tour choices. They fluctuate in what’s included, the place they go (clearly all to Saona Island, however totally different locations) and what high quality you possibly can count on. All these excursions are additionally working in 2021 throughout the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re inquisitive about excursions notably appropriate for social distancing, try this article with the best excursions in Punta Cana during the times of Covid-19.
The usual tour to Isla Saona
Even tour descriptions would possibly fluctuate barely, normally all the usual excursions to Saona Island are arrange the identical.
You’ll get picked up by a tour bus in Punta Cana proper in your all-inclusive resort or guesthouse/lodge and dropped off in Bayahibe. Right here you’ll change onto a ship and head in the direction of Isla Saona – both on a pace boat with a cease on the pure swimming pool or with the catamaran listening to music whereas having drinks and dancing time.
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Don’t fear if in case you have a choice for one among each choices, on the way in which again from the island within the afternoon you’ll get the opposite one you haven’t had within the morning. This implies, you both go to Isla Saona by pace boat and are available again by catamaran or you’ll begin with the catamaran and have the pace boat within the afternoon.
Whereas on the island, all Isla Saona tour firms of the usual tour normally give you a wonderful stretch of seashore (I’ve been there thrice with totally different excursions and it was all the time superb), a easy buffet lunch, free drinks (normally simply gentle drinks and rum, generally additionally beer) and time to get pleasure from, calm down, sunbath and swim.
You’ll be able to try some Saona Island tour choices from Punta Cana right here:
Count on to pay between 70 and 100 USD for Saona Island excursions beginning and ending in Punta Cana.
Discovery and/or premium excursions to Isla Saona
Relying in your wants, it is likely to be a good suggestion to spend somewhat more money in your Isla Saona tour as the usual tour is only a primary tour. Enjoyable (rum), solar and seashore are the primary concepts right here, however if you need to cruise in fashion or see totally different elements of Saona Island, one other tour is likely to be a good suggestion.
The premium Isla Saona excursions are extra distinct with particular variations between them. Tour firms are providing the identical tour as above however with higher high quality, for instance, skilled tour guides, high-quality drinks and lobster menus. Others are doing each methods with a catamaran highlighting the chillout ambiance of the tour. And but others are simply utilizing a pace boat and performing some type of sightseeing round Saona Island, displaying you a lot lovely and untouched websites the usual excursions normally don’t go to, for instance, El Peñon, Canto de la Playa and Mano Juan.
The tour choices under are all hand-selected and are operated by a few of the finest Saona Tour tour operators:
As these excursions are extra particular person with extra service and/or much less crowded teams, they’re costlier as effectively – it is best to plan with round 100 to 180 USD for these choices.
VIP, personal yacht and helicopter excursions to Isla Saona
If that’s not sufficient for you, Isla Saona nonetheless will get you lined as there are additionally Saona excursions for essentially the most demanding guests. Excursions by helicopter, private boats, luxury yachts, elegant seashore golf equipment and VIP providers are your alternative if you need to splurge a bit. After all, costs fluctuate enormously relying on the providers included, however if you’re , you possibly can try the next provides.
Saona Island personal tour
If a gaggle tour isn’t the best Isla Saona tour for you, it’s also possible to take into account a Saona Island private tour. Curiously sufficient, a personal tour may not be as costly as you suppose and has a few benefits in comparison with a typical Isla Saona tour:
– you possibly can design the itinerary based on your wants
– you possibly can assure social distancing
– you possibly can get pleasure from locations with fewer or no vacationers
– you possibly can alter the timetable based on your preferences
– you’ve extra personal area on the boat
– you’ll have a lot smaller teams – simply the individuals out of your touring get together
– the tour employees is solely there for you
– you possibly can instantly ask for assist in case of any issues
That is particularly useful if you find yourself touring with your loved ones or with buddies as a small group. You’ll be able to determine the tempo of your personal tour, don’t need to share with strangers and get rather more private consideration.
These are just some benefits of a personal Isla Saona tour. Take a look at this article for further information on a Saona Island private tour.
My experiences at Isla Saona
I normally don’t like locations the place you possibly can really feel from the primary second that every thing is nearly tourism. If I’ve to share sights with 1000’s of vacationers I usually don’t wish to go there as this isn’t my concept of touring. Nonetheless, I’ve to confess I actually liked Isla Saona (and I’ve been there thrice now) because the surroundings is certainly mind-blowing. In my 8 years dwelling within the Caribbean, I’ve visited greater than 25 Caribbean islands and whereas I’ve seen a few very good and almost unbeatable paradisiacal locations (for instance Tobago Cays, Jost van Dyke, Bequia, and many others.), Isla Saona undoubtedly can compete with them.
If you’re or had been unsure like me – no fear, simply calm down and revel in your self. Think about cruising on a catamaran with chill-out or dance music sipping at your Cuba Libre (sadly with a subpar rum at most cheaper Saona Island excursions) and watching the shoreline of the Dominican Republic passing by till you attain the palm-fringed Isla Saona. That’s precisely what I used to be in a position to get pleasure from, and the island doesn’t fall wanting it.
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Shallow water, lovely seashores, swaying palm bushes, normally sufficient area for everybody, in order that it doesn’t really feel too crowded. After all, there are a few boats anchoring and visiting however I’ve seen worse issues in my journey life. In case you nonetheless need fewer individuals than on Isla Saona, take a look at neighboring (15 miles away) Isla Catalina, which is type of the little sister of Isla Saona.
Moreover, it’s also possible to stroll left and proper alongside the shoreline, so that you would possibly be capable of discover your personal little seashore part as a result of Isla Saona is bigger than it’s possible you’ll suppose. The island is house to round 40 miles of shoreline. Whereas only a tiny a part of it’s accessible it nonetheless offers you the possibility to enterprise out and see some untouched or much less visited elements.
Isla Saona is certainly one type of paradise within the Dominican Republic.
The one factor the place it is best to decrease your expectations is the snorkeling cease (whether it is included in any respect as some tour firms have ceased the Isla Saona snorkeling over the previous years). Among the excursions cease at a wrack which a number of fishes name their house. You probably have by no means been snorkeling it is likely to be an excellent level to strive it however after getting achieved it at a reef with a various and colourful fish inhabitants, the snorkeling at Isla Saona gained’t impress you. Check out this article here if you’d like to know more about snorkeling in and around Punta Cana. If snorkeling is vital for you, Isla Catalina is the better tour option.
Then again, the cease on the pure swimming pool could be very nice – if you’re ready for a lot of boats. Nonetheless, the colour is certainly lovely and tremendous turquoise and the view of the untouched shoreline is superb.
As you possibly can see, the journey to Isla Saona is price it and undoubtedly a spotlight throughout your trip within the Dominican Republic. The vital factor is that you don’t count on an excessive amount of relating to the non-public consideration and the meals, particularly if you’re reserving the cheaper Saona excursions. The important thing level is that you simply come right here for the pure magnificence and the Caribbean feeling. Having stated this, Isla Saona is superb and is certainly worth a day trip.
Then again, reserving one of many premium Isla Saona excursions will improve your expertise, which ensures you among the best days you should have throughout your trip in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic.
Isla Saona excursions throughout Covid-19
In case you questioning in regards to the Isla Saona excursions throughout Covid-19 in Punta Cana, relaxation assured: they’re as superb as they’ve all the time been. Truly, the Saona Island excursions are much more lovely as you possibly can rely with the next benefits in comparison with pre-Covid-19 occasions:
– there are normally fewer individuals on the boat attributable to a decrease reserving quantity
– the totally different Isla Saona seashores are much less crowded, a few of them are even near pristine
– you possibly can get pleasure from nature to the fullest as there are considerably fewer boats on the water
The final Isla Saona tour from Punta Cana I took was in April 2021 and it was as attractive as all the time, as you possibly can see within the following images.
Good to know to your Isla Saona tour
The right way to get to Saona Island?
When visiting Isla Saona, you’ve 4 choices on easy methods to get to Saona Island from Punta Cana:
– a guided tour from/to Punta Cana with all providers included
– attending to Bayahibe by yourself (by rental car, public transport or taxi) and take a ship tour from there (with all providers included)
– attending to Bayahibe by yourself and take the general public boat or a personal boat to Mano Juan, the one village on the island (this isn’t a vacationer tour)
– flying by helicopter from Punta Cana to Isla Saona
I’m explaining the variations within the following sections.
Guided tour from/to Punta Cana
That is the commonest technique on easy methods to get to Saona Island from Punta Cana. You could find my Saona tour suggestions above within the part “The perfect Saona Island excursions”. Merely ebook an Isla Saona tour and you’re good to go. I’d say that 80-90% of all guests to Saona Island are going this manner. As described above, it consists of transfers from and to your all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, information, nationwide park payment, drinks, meals and boat rides.
Attending to Bayahibe by yourself and ebook a guided Saona tour from there
In case you don’t like bus rides with choosing up passengers from totally different all-inclusive resorts, if in case you have your own rental car or if you’re coming from elsewhere, attending to Bayahihe by yourself and booking a full Saona excursion which starts right in Bayahibe* is likely to be the most suitable choice for you. These excursions are normally just like the Isla Saona excursions from Punta Cana, simply with out the switch. Relying on the tour, they is likely to be a bit cheaper, however it’s important to add your personal switch. The switch might be (however isn’t restricted) to the next choices:
– personal switch from Punta Cana to Bayahibe and vice versa (verify costs right here – from Punta Cana to Bayahibe* | from Bayahibe to Punta Cana*)
– renting a automobile in Punta Cana (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) if you wish to discover different things-to-do and day-trips by yourself (continue reading here to know if it is a good idea to rent a car in Punta Cana)
– heading to Bayahibe from Punta Cana by public transport (not really useful, as you would need to begin tremendous early)
– arriving in Bayahibe by rental automobile or personal switch from elsewhere within the Dominican Republic
For Isla Saona tour choices from Bayahibe, you possibly can try the next provide.
Taking the general public boat or a personal boat to Mano Juan
If you wish to get to Isla Saona however don’t wish to have the standard Saona Island tour expertise, it’s also possible to head to Mano Juan, the one village on the island with roughly 300 inhabitants. Time appears to have forgotten this place and you may have a really native expertise distant from each vacationer monitor. Because of the lengthy journey time, it is strongly recommended to spend an evening right here to have the ability to get pleasure from this place.
To ebook the general public or personal boat from Bayahibe, it’s best to take action through your lodging in Saona. There are solely two rustic guesthouses on the island, you possibly can verify them out right here:
– Casa Rural*
– Isla Saona Beach House*
The general public boat is operating as soon as a day (9 am from Bayahibe, 2 pm from Mano Juan).
Go to Isla Saona by helicopter
Probably the most elegant technique to get to Saona Island from Punta Cana is to ebook a helicopter tour. This very particular Saona Island tour is the quickest technique to get to the island and can make your keep unforgettable. You get picked up within the lodge by minivan, head to the heliport of Bavaro and board your helicopter sure for Isla Saona. There, you’ll have round 75 minutes to have an govt lunch with waiter service in among the best Saona Island seashore golf equipment, benefit from the open bar and have a dip into the turquoise ocean.
How can I ebook a tour to Saona Island?
Excursions to Isla Saona might be finest booked by one of many varied tour operators. I’d suggest you reserving it on-line as you possibly can verify critiques earlier than. It’s most likely even cheaper than reserving it at your lodge. Another choice can be to ebook a tour on the seashore and the seashore vendor would possibly provide you with higher costs as they don’t need to pay for advertising and marketing, workplaces, and many others., however the high quality is a hit or miss so I’d stick to the web provides.
In order for you you possibly can try the choices I outlined above when describing the assorted tour choices.
What to do in Isla Saona?
Most likely you go to Saona Island for swimming, sunbathing, stress-free and having fun with the attractive surroundings. You may as well get a therapeutic massage from one of many native girls, purchase cigars or get your self a Caribbean coiffure.
Nonetheless, there additionally some sights and locations to see on Saona Island, amongst them:
Mano Juan – the one village on the island and residential of roughly 300 inhabitants who reside a remarkably easy life right here. There are additionally two locations to remain if you need to get away from all of it. See below for more details.
Canto de la Playa – Canto de la Playa is a lagoon and pristine seashore within the extra distant a part of Saona Island. Only some vacationers come right here each day.
Playa Catuano – probably the most widespread seashores and on the similar time house of the marine guard and the aforementioned shipwreck for snorkeling
Saona Channel – the channel which divides Saona Island from the mainland. Often, only private boats go here.
Parque Nacional Cotubanamá – previously referred to as Parque Nacional del Este, this nationwide park accommodates the entire Bayahibe peninsula and the island of Saona together with the reefs and guarded underwater areas.
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Are there any accommodations on Saona Island?
There aren’t any correct accommodations or all-inclusive resorts on Isla Saona. Nonetheless, there are two easy guesthouses within the village of Mano Juan, the one little city on the entire island. You’ll be able to sleep there and have a back-to-the-basics island expertise as you’ll more than likely be the one vacationer within the village and might need energy and/or water outages. However you additionally would be the just one having fun with this unforgettable dawn within the morning …
You’ll be able to ebook the 2 guesthouses proper right here.
If you’re in search of extra details about this distinctive place-to-stay at Saona Island, try this text about the best eco-lodges in and around Punta Cana.
Options to Isla Saona
In case you really feel that an Isla Saona tour is nothing for you or if you need to keep away from the crowds, you possibly can strive the neighboring Isla Catalina, which is described here in detail. It’s a lovely island 15 miles northwest of Isla Saona and likewise features a enjoyable boat journey, snorkeling and adequate seashore time. The surroundings may not be as paradisical as Isla Saona however an enormous plus of Isla Catalina is that you’ll go each methods with a catamaran – 100% Caribbean feeling assured.
Cayo Levantado is one other island that’s reachable from Punta Cana, however it’s farther away and the crossing by way of the bay of Samaná is likely to be somewhat bit tough, relying on the wind. Subsequently I’d not suggest going there only for the island, Isla Saona and Isla Catalina are extra price it. Nonetheless, for those who combine Cayo Levantado with a whale-watching excursion (from January to March) it’s an incredible package deal and really recommendable.
Often Requested Questions (FAQs)
Are you planning a tour to Isla Saona? Do you’ve any questions? Let me know within the feedback! If you have already got achieved an tour to Saona Island, please share your experiences right here as effectively!
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Creator, Journey Coach & Punta Cana based mostly digital nomad
Hey, I’m Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I’ve been dwelling within the Caribbean, amongst them 5 years within the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base right here within the nation and I’d like to inform you extra about easy methods to expertise Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and provide you with all the recommendation you wish to know to your trip in Punta Cana.