A Dominican Republic Day Trip to Saona Island

Dominican Republic

The catamaran that took us from Bayahibe to Saona Island. 

One of my favorite places to escape the challenges of the world, especially in the winter is Saona Island, a picture perfect island off the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic. It’s a lovely day trip for anyone vacationing in the Dominican Republic and looking for an even better beach that you might already have.

A massage on the beach, a breeze off the ocean ruffling through the palm trees, sunshine and 80 degree temps — all ingredients for a great winter getaway.

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East National Park and Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Saona Island a part of a East National Park, so the grounds and the waters around the island are protected from too much development and fishing. There’s a sea turtle sanctuary near Flamingo Lagoon, although our tour didn’t venture to that part of the island. It’s OK. Leave those nesting sea turtles alone, away from stumbling feet of tourists.

sea turtles saona island dominican republicHawksbill turtles have been all eliminated from the water around the Dominican Republic because it is believed their eggs are an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. They are not! As a result of the education effort from this sea turtle conservation project, Hawksbill turtles are growing in number, at least around Saona Island.

And please, when you spend a day in the ocean, consider a reef safe sunscreen to keep the environment as healthy as possible for these precious creatures.

What to do on Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Beach Barbeque, Saona Island, Dominican RepublicYou can’t spend the night on Saona Island simply because there are no hotels and camping is not allowed. But nearly every hotel in the region offers day trips to Saona Island. Most excursions depart from the fun little fishing village of Bayahibe. We stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort and they handled the details of our excursion flawlessly, including round-trip transportation to Bayahibe.

The catamaran ride from Bayahibe to Saona is a joy in itself.

Seriously, there’s not a lot to do on Saona Island, except enjoy the pristine waters, a beach barbeque featuring Dominican cuisine, and maybe get a massage on the beach. Geez, isn’t that a perfect day!


Starfish Surrounding Saona Island, Dominican Republic

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. I only played with them a little bit because there was no need for me to disturb their environment. If you do pick up a sea star, be sure to place it back soft side down.

Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Sea stars or star fish underwater near Saona Island in the Dominican Republic

My little Nikon Coolpix has an underwater feature, which I’m always terrified to try. But this time, I took the plunge with it. Literally. 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!

Star fish in the waters of Saona Island near the Dominican Republic

My friend, Mirel, playing with a sea star.

For Your Trip to Saona Island