Saona Island (Isla Saona) is the Dominican Republic's largest coastal island, clocking in at 15 miles (25 kilometers) long and three miles (5 kilometers) wide, with a population of little more than 300. Part of the National Park of the East, the island features plenty of photo-worthy white sands, swaying palm trees, and turquoise waters.
Set sail across the Caribbean Sea on a speedboat or catamaran cruise to Saona Island to spend a day swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing at the island's beaches and lagoons. Full-day Saona Island tours run from Punta Cana, La Romana, Bayahibe Beach, and Santo Domingo, and often include visits to mainland sights such as Altos de Chavon. Alternatively, arrive in style on a private helicopter to enjoy spectacular views along the island's southern coast.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be sure to take everything you need as there are no shops on the island. Sunscreen, a swimsuit, and a sunhat are essentials.
- Bring cash if you want to purchase food or drinks from beach bars and kiosks—most do not accept cards.
- There is no Wi-Fi on the island.
- Many passenger ferries and private boats to Saona Island are wheelchair accessible, but it's best to check with the operator in advance.
How to Get There
Saona Island is located at the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic, and is only reachable by boat. The closest mainland town is Bayahibe. From there, Saona Island is 40 minutes away by speedboat, or two hours away on a leisurely catamaran cruise.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit Saona Island is during the dry summer months from December through February, and resorts can fill up quickly during the this time. Thanks to the mild Caribbean climate, it's possible to visit year-round, but while off-season visitors can benefit from reduced prices, boat tours can be canceled due to rough weather during hurricane season from August through November.
Exploring Saona Island
After visiting the village of Mano Juan, exploring Cotubanamá Cave, and strolling the pristine Canto de la Playa beach, take a dip at a natural pool filled with giant starfish or swim and snorkel at Palmilla Beach. The island has plenty of offshore wonders too—look out for bottlenose dolphins, turtles, manatees, and whales as you cruise around the coast.