Saona Island it is the most popular tourist destination in the Dominican Republic. Its postcard lovely beaches attract thousands of visitors every single day.
For visitors who want to know a little bit more of Saona Island than the typical tours, here we have all the needed information.
Saona Island history
Saona Island was originally inhabited by the Taino Indians before the Spanish Conquest. The original name of the island was “Adamanay“, a name given by the Tainos.
On his second trip to Hispaniola, Columbus landed at Saona. At that time, the island was considered separate from Hispaniola; and was named “Saona” by Cristóbal Colón, in honor of her friend Michele da Cuneo de Savonna.
Within 3 decades since the Spanish conquest, the Taíno population of the Dominican Republic had declined drastically. Old world diseases such as smallpox and inhuman working conditions led to the extinction of Taíno populations throughout the Caribbean.
Saona once again became an uninhabited island until the 1940s, when President Trujillo sent the development of a small town that would be called Mano Juan.
During the dictatorship of Trujillo, many politicians were exiled to Saona. Today, Isla Saona is part of the Parque Nacional del Este, which was later renamed the Cotubanama National Park, in memory of the Taino Chief who rebelled against the Spanish invasion.
How can we get to Saona Island?
Located 12 miles from the southern coast of the Dominican Republic; Most tours to Saona Island require a trip to the fishing village of Bayahibe. From there, dozens of operators leave every morning on catamarans, speedboats or yachts.
Visitors staying in the popular tourist destination of Punta Cana can expect a trip of 2 to 3 hours; depending on the location of the resort.
What excursions can not be missed on Isla Saona?
Palmilla Natural Sandbank
The sandbar near the beach of Palmilla, is the meeting place in the afternoon for many of the speedboats that return from Saona.
With stunning views of the Cotubanama National Park, from the natural pool, visitors can enjoy an elegant display of contrasting blue tones.
A natural habitat for starfish, which are often seen in sandy soil. While visitors may be tempted to remove starfish from the water to be photographed, it is recommended that these unique creations not be manipulated. This is because touching them can cause tissue damage, in addition to the toxicity of sunscreens.
Beaches and more beaches
It’s no wonder that the most popular thing on Saona Island is sunbathing and swimming on the beach. With endless miles of beaches dotted with palm trees, Saona reflects a relaxing Caribbean atmosphere that draws visitors to its stunning natural beauty.
Massage on the beach
What better way to enter the wonderful mood in paradise than with a relaxing massage on the beach?
For visitors looking to improve their level of happiness, a massage by the beach with the sounds of the waves and the aroma of tropical coconuts is a pleasant experience in Isla Saona.
Mano Canto town
The small fishing village of Mano Canto, with its pastel colored wooden houses, is the perfect trip to experience a true community of Dominican fishermen.
With a population of less than 500 people, this small village depends on tourism and fishing for its livelihood.
For visitors interested in learning more about Dominican culture, a trip to Mano Canto should be a necessity in your itinerary of excursions to Saona Island.
Before booking any tour, check with the representative if the tour goes through Mano Canto; because very few tours visit the small fishing village ..
Turtle Conservation Project
If you visit the town of Mano Canto during the turtle season, you should visit the turtle conservation project.
Isla Saona is the most important turtle hatchery in the Dominican Republic.
On certain beaches of Saona Island you can snorkel on the coast.
Do not expect to go through the best places to practice snorkeling on a Saona general sailing excursion; because these tours cater for 4 to 5 tour operators that bring their own groups.
Tourists who are interested in exploring some of the coral reefs in the Parque Nacional del Este (where Isla Saona is part of the park) we recommend looking for a small group of excursions. Most of the smaller tours are aimed at divers.
It is not considered one of the main activities in Saona Island; because few tour operators promote trips to explore the marine ecosystems that surround the Island.
But nevertheless; The coral reef system around Saona and the southeast coast are among the most vivid and diverse in the Dominican Republic.
From underwater museums to shipwrecks, the unique marine ecosystems near Saona Island offer an excellent diving experience.
Saona Island offers something for all travelers, from impressive natural landscapes, diverse marine ecosystems and picturesque beaches.
While it is a popular tourist destination, with hundreds of daily visitors who flock to the beaches, it is a part of the Dominican Republic that can not be missed.
With the right expectation, and the travel itinerary that meets your specific objectives, Isla Saona may be the perfect trip to experience a unique side of the Dominican Republic. You can not miss it!