A massage on the beach, a breeze off the ocean ruffling through the palm trees, sunshine and 80 degree temps – all factors for a great winter getaway. And my new favorite place to experience all of that is Saona Island, a picture perfect island off the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, a lovely day trip for anyone vacationing here and looking for an even better beach that you might already have.
It’s a part of a national park, so the grounds and the waters around the island are protected from too much development and fishing. You can’t spend the night on the island – there are no hotels – but nearly every hotel in the region offers day trips to Saona, including roundtrip transportation to the fun little fishing village of Bayahibe, where most excursions depart. We stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort.
What to do on Saona Island
Just the catamaran ride from to Saona is a joy in itself. Our captain stopped in the shallow waters off about 100 yards from shore, allowing us to splash around and play with the starfish. The waters are full of them.
I have seen starfish, or sea stars as marine biologists prefer to call them, in aquariums and touched them in little educational touch pools designed for kids, but I think this was the first time I had seen starfish in their natural surroundings like this.
My little Nikon Coolpix has an underwater feature, which I’m always terrified to try, but I took the plunge with it – literally – on this occasion. I didn’t ruin the camera and got some fun photos.
Plus, I got a little sunburn that day, some salt water in my eyes and sand between my toes. All in all, it was a perfect day in the Dominican Republic!