Skip to content

Visiting Saona Island: 10 unique experiences on a paradise island

When we’re in the Dominican Republic and think about visiting a paradise island, what comes to mind? Visiting Saona Island, undoubtedly. The Dominican Republic offers various types of beaches, some more paradisiacal with calmer seas and crystal-clear waters, and others with rougher seas for those who prefer a different kind of soak, catering to the interests of a wide range of travelers. Perhaps it’s this diversity that attracts so many visitors to the Dominican Republic annually. According to the Dominican Republic Presidency, in 2023, more than 10 million travelers visited the country.

Unique paradise beaches when visiting Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Saona Island is a true piece of paradise located off the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, in Cotubanamá National Park. With its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush palm trees swaying in the wind, it’s the perfect destination for beach lovers. During our stay in Punta Cana, we couldn’t resist the charm of this tropical paradise and decided to visit Saona Island.

For exclusive travel tips, you can send us an email or a message on Instagram and also subscribe to our newsletter to receive everything directly in your inbox.
Heymondo Travel Insurance banner featuring Machu Picchu in Peru with a 5% discount offer

How to get to Saona Island

To visit Saona Island, one of the most popular options is through excursions organized by local tour operators. These excursions usually depart from locations such as Bayahibe, La Romana, or Punta Cana. Visitors are transported by boat to the island, where they can enjoy a full day of activities, such as snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, and exploring the stunning natural landscapes of the island. Alternatively, it is possible to rent a private boat to get to the island.

We opted to visit the island on a guided tour organized by Dominican Attitude. We were staying in Punta Cana, at Playa Bavaro, and a transfer came to pick us up to go to Dominican Attitude in Bayahibe; the trip took about an hour. During check-in, we received a bracelet that allowed access to the natural park (already included in the excursion price), we were provided with fins for snorkeling later, and we were directed to the boarding area.

Boat of the Dominican Attitude used to visit Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Once on the boat, all information about the day was provided in (Spanish, English, and French). We started the approximately 30-minute journey to the island.

The following excursion was the option we tried and recommended. You can check availability and options below.

Book your excursion

Powered by GetYourGuide

What to do when visiting Saona Island

Drink Dominican rum

The excursion includes drinks, not only during the journey but also during stops on the island. The trip is very relaxed, with music and entertainment on board, and of course, in true Caribbean style, we had to try the rum, which they call “vitamin R”.

Enjoy unique views from the boat

Visiting Saona Island on an excursion and having the opportunity to sail around it in a small boat allows for unique views of the various areas that make Saona Island unique.

Visit a fishing village

Mano Juan, Saona Island, Dominican Republic

The first stop of the excursion to visit Saona Island was in Mano Juan. Mano Juan is a picturesque and tranquil fishing village located in the south of Saona Island, known for its welcoming inhabitants, colorful wooden houses, and untouched paradise beaches. In the village, the inhabitants mainly live off fishing and tourism.

Taste Dominican cuisine

In the village of Mano Juan, we had the opportunity to have lunch with traditional island-made food. Various dishes were served on beachside tables, some traditional, others more international, both delicious.

Visit a turtle nursery

Tortugario Saoni, a must-visit stop when visiting Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Visiting the turtle sanctuary on Saona Island is a unique and exciting experience, where you can witness up close the protection and conservation of sea turtles. Located in Mano Juan, this sanctuary offers the opportunity to learn about the life cycle of these fascinating creatures, from egg incubation to the release of hatchlings into the ocean.

Visit paradise beaches

Canto de la Playa, one of the most paradisiacal beaches to visit on Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Exploring Canto de la Playa on Saona Island is like diving into a refuge of natural beauty. Away from the busier areas, this untouched corner enchants with paradisiacal beaches of white sand, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking landscapes.

It’s the perfect place to relax under the palm trees, swim in the calm waters, and simply soak in the serenity of the environment. With the gentle sound of waves as background music, it provides a uniquely relaxing experience.


Exploring the crystal-clear waters of Canto de la Playa on Saona Island through snorkeling is a truly stunning experience. With its calm and clear waters and a coral reef near the coast, it offers the opportunity to snorkel and observe tropical fish. Dominican Attitude provides fins, goggles, and snorkel tubes for a truly unforgettable experience.

Observe turtles

In the Dominican Republic, it is still possible to find many turtles in their natural habitat. During the boat return trip, it is possible to spot these lovely marine creatures. In the area of Saona Island, it is common to spot three distinct species of turtles: the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, and the leatherback turtle.

Observe starfish

During the boat ride along the coast of the Dominican Republic, in Cotubanamá National Park, visitors have the unique opportunity to observe starfish. The boat stops in the middle of the natural pools, providing a stunning setting to relax in shallow waters while admiring these fascinating marine creatures.

Swim in natural pools

Beach at the first stop when visiting Saona Island, Mano Juan, Dominican Republic

One of the must-visit stops before returning to Bayahibe is the natural pools off the coast. The boat anchors at the location, allowing visitors to swim and relax in the crystal-clear and shallow waters. In addition to enjoying the serenity of the natural pools, visitors also have the opportunity to closely observe the starfish that inhabit these tranquil waters.

Visiting Saona Island responsibly

Visiting untouched locations with unique species habitats responsibly is crucial for nature preservation and the well-being of local communities. When exploring these precious environments, it’s essential to respect and protect the biodiversity within them. Maintaining a focus on sustainability is vital to minimize the ecological footprint during the visit, avoiding littering, refraining from touching marine species and other animals, and respecting local conservation guidelines. By adopting responsible practices, we can ensure that these natural treasures remain untouched, allowing future generations to enjoy their beauty and biodiversity.

You can find more information about environmental protection in the Dominican Republic on the official page of Medio Ambiente.

Why choose Dominican Attitude

In our opinion, after spending an incredible day visiting Saona Island, the experiences offered by Dominican Attitude stand out not only for their respect and contribution to the development of local communities but also for nature preservation. Additionally, the excursions are specially designed to provide an authentic immersion, exploring less-visited tourist spots, thus allowing for a more serene and genuine experience that perfectly complements the paradisiacal beauty of Saona Island.

 Guide of Dominican Attitude on Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Below, find the ideal option and date for your excursion.

Prices and availability

Powered by GetYourGuide

Visiting Saona Island is an experience that goes beyond words. Its stunning landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and exciting activities provide unforgettable moments for all who explore it. However, it’s essential to do so responsibly, preserving nature and respecting local communities. Choosing conscious tour operators not only enhances the experience but also contributes to the sustainability and preservation of this natural treasure for future generations. May every visit to Saona Island be a celebration of its beauty and a commitment to its protection.

Planning your trip to Bayahibe?

If you are planning a trip, check our resources page.

Activities at Bayahibe

This post contains affiliate links that help support this project so we can create better content for you for free. By using our affiliate links, the resources we work with channel a small portion of the commission to support this project at no extra cost to you.

Legal disclaimer: All information on this blog is for informational purposes only. Readers should use the content with caution and verify its accuracy before making financial or travel decisions. This blog is not liable for any consequences arising from the use of the provided information.