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Saona Island Day Trips from Punta Cana

The best way to visit Saona Island from Punta Cana is with a complete tour. Fortunately, you will be able to choose from several options available for this excursion

Carla Yaquer

Carla Yaquer

10 min read

Saona Island Day Trips from Punta Cana

Punta Cana | ©Roman Mktn

Saona Island is protected by the Bávaro Barrier Reef, so you can swim in its 68 kilometers of pristine, wave-free waters. Visits to its mangroves, natural reserves, beaches, natural pools and sanctuaries are among the best things to do in Punta Cana.

Catamaran, speedboat, helicopter or submarine rides, there are many experiences available to travel from Punta Cana to Saona Island. You just have to choose the best time to visit the Dominican island and book the tour you like the most.

1. Catamaran and speedboat tour to Saona Island

Saona Island| ©Wernner
Saona Island| ©Wernner

Just imagine the scenery: turquoise beaches, wild vegetation everywhere, giant starfish, sea turtles, golden sand, coral reefs and festive atmosphere. This is what this excursion to Saona Island by catamaran offers you.

The tour usually starts with a pick-up at your hotel to take you to Bayahibe, where you will board a catamaran that goes directly to an idyllic beach, the popular Natural Pool of Saona Island.

As soon as the boat anchors, you can see how the fish surround you and, in addition, you will be able to see asteroids. If your trip to this Dominican island is motivated by the starfish sanctuary, I recommend planning your visit to Punta Cana in January, the best time of the year for stargazing.

On the beach you can count on the animation of the tour, with good music, snacks and drinks. Around noon you usually have lunch on this beach and, after a day of fun, return to your pick up point.

Details of interest

  • Price: From 74 €.
  • Duration: 9 hours.
  • What the tour usually includes: Transportation to and from your hotel. Buffet lunch with typical Dominican food. Light snacks. Unlimited national drinks.
  • Pros: This is the ideal plan for travelers who want to spend a different beach day in a festive space for adults.
  • Cons: Groups tend to be large.

Book your excursion to Saona Island from Punta Cana

2. Saona Island and Altos de Chavon Tour

Altos de Chavon| ©Tammy Green
Altos de Chavon| ©Tammy Green

Combine a visit to Saona Island with a Mediterranean village in the Caribbean and Cotubanama National Park with this day tour from Punta Cana. Undoubtedly, an activity on the same level as the Macao Beach tours offered in the area.

After gathering the group, you will move on to La Romana where you will stroll through Altosde Chavón, a curious Mediterranean village where the Altos de Chavón Regional Archaeological Museum is located.

This small town is a land of culture and passion for the arts, that is why it is better known as the City of Artists and its streets alternate its Mediterranean recreation withthe Caribbean sea.

Heading to Saona Island

After the walk, the group embarks on a speedboat in Bayahibe, where the second point of interest of the tour, El Peñon, a cliff surrounded by the land of the first Taino Indians, the original inhabitants of the island, is soon contemplated.

The guide will explain the history of the place while the boat moves through mangroves to anchor in the Natural Pool of Saona Island, a beach of crystalline waters protected by a large coral reef.

Once on the beach you can splash in the sea, participate in the entertaining activities prepared by the entertainers, discover the starfish, flutter among schools of fish or just enjoy the drinks provided by your operator.

Around noon, you have a typical lunch and continue the party on the boat. In the afternoon, you are taken back to your point of origin.

Details of interest

  • Price: From 94 €.
  • Duration: 10 hours.
  • What the tour may include: Shuttle service to and from the main hotels in Punta Cana. Professional guide service. Entrance fee to Altos de Chavón. Entrance fee to Saona Island. Typical Dominican lunch. Open bar with national drinks.
  • Pros: Combines land and sea tourism by including the Dominican version of a Mediterranean village and the Caribbean countryside, the result captures the attention of tourists and locals.
  • Cons: The capacity of the groups is 50 people, it can be large for some travelers.

Book your excursion to Saona Island and Altos de Chavon from Punta Cana

3. Tour to Saona Island by submarine with snorkeling and scuba diving

Snorkeling in Saona Island| ©cn4117
Snorkeling in Saona Island| ©cn4117

From Punta Cana to Saona Island the trip takes a little more than 1 hour. On the way you will discover an underwater world of different textures and colors. In fact, the water is so crystal clear that it is hard to believe it is real. That's why it's best to check it out on your own with a dive in the Caribbean Sea.

The best way to enjoy the show is aboard a tourist submarine and that is what this type of tour offers.

The panoramic views you get from the skylights of the submarine are a beauty. Take your pictures and experience the first encounter with the marine fauna offered by this tour, a favorite of the kids (write this activity down among your things to do in Punta Cana with children.

Diving and snorkeling

Saona Island is a Dominican paradise for divers of all levels. Make the most of a dive and then practice one of the best snorkeling experiences in Punta Cana.

Swim to your heart's content or take your mask and snorkel to snorkel in the shallow waters. At noon you can take a break on the white sandy beach, where a lunch buffet with unlimited drinks awaits you.

On the way back, the boat stops at the Natural Pool where the starfish are found. The excursion ends at the point of origin.

Details of interest

  • Price: From 139 €.
  • Duration: 10 hours.
  • What the tour may include: Buffet lunch. Open bar with national drinks. Tour around Saona Island and Saona Natural Pool. Shuttle service to and from your hotel.
  • Pros: The marine fauna on Saona Island is vibrant and varied. On board the submarine you can enjoy the view or take your pictures sitting on the boat. You are sure to see the famous starfish of the area.
  • Cons: The capacity of the submarine is 30 people and the pick up at the various hotels takes time.

4. VIP Helicopter Excursion to Saona Island Beaches

Helicopter in Saona Island| ©Vittorio Dell'Aquila
Helicopter in Saona Island| ©Vittorio Dell'Aquila

Swimming, visiting exclusive beaches, lunch with lobster and memorable panoramic views of Saona Island are the premises of this type of excursion. Come on! it is an experience that stimulates the senses through the Dominican Caribbean.

After picking you up at your hotel or villa you are taken to the heliport in Bavaro where a welcome drink awaits you before boarding the helicopter to fly to Saona Island.

It will be half an hour at high altitude from where you can see the Barrier Reef in all its splendor as well as Bayahibe, the Natural Pool of Saona, Cotubanama National Park and many other jewels of the island from the heights.

After the tour you land on an exclusive beach, where you can take a dip in the crystal clear waters that you were seeing at your feet. After an hour splashing in the Caribbean Sea, a succulent three-course lunch, unlimited drinks and cocktails await you to relax on the white sand.

Details of interest

  • Price: From 325 €.
  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • What the tour usually includes: Transportation to and from the hotel or villa in Punta Cana. A souvenir photo. 50 - 60 minutes helicopter ride to and from Saona Island. Lunch with VIP menu (includes seafood paella and lobster). Unlimited alcoholic beverages and cocktails.
  • Pros: The views are spectacular (this is the favorite tour of photographers on Saona Island). It offers a different perspective to enjoy the Caribbean Sea free of crowds and with luxury attention.
  • Cons: The 3 hour tour goes by fast.

5. Private tour to Saona Island for groups

Turtle Sanctuary.| ©Angel Ramos
Turtle Sanctuary.| ©Angel Ramos

With this tour the group usually meets at the main parking lot in Bayahibe to board a private boat to Saona Island.

The sea breeze, coconut trees, mangroves and turquoise waters serve as background for this 1 hour tour that soon arrives to one of the most beautiful corners of Saona: Playa del Toro, where you can take a swim and see the first schools of fish of the tour.

Then, continue the tour going through the fishing village of Mano Juan where the turtle sanctuary is located. There you will learn to distinguish different species of the island.

At the end of the tour you will have free time for lunch in the area. I advance you that the specialty is lobster and prices are reasonable, so you can feast.

Then back to the boat to navigate through the mangroves of the Catuano Channel. This ecosystem is home to a large number of marine species such as lobsters, turtles and even small Caribbean sharks. From there you will reach the last stop, the Natural Pool, the meeting place par excellence for all the boats.

Details of interest

  • Price: From 450 € for 15 people.
  • Duration: 10 - 11 hours.
  • What the tour may include: Transportation by boat exclusively for the group. Transfers to and from your hotel or villa.
  • Pros: The private boat avoids crowds and is usually flexible with its itinerary, it is one of the recommended boat tours in Punta Cana.
  • Cons: The tour takes you to beautiful beaches but does not include additional services such as entrance fees to nature reserves, meals or drinks. In any case, food is usually reasonably priced on Saona Island.

Book a snorkeling excursion in Punta Cana

6. Excursion to the beaches of Saona Island

Los Flamencos Beach| ©pepoexpress
Los Flamencos Beach| ©pepoexpress

After picking you up at your hotel you are taken to Bayahibe to board the boat for a ride to Playa Palmilla, Playa Los Flamencos and Playa Caleta. The tour takes you to explore a mysterious shipwreck, stroll among mangroves, white sandbanks and the Sea Turtle Conservation Center, located at Playa Mano de Juan, as well as encounter sea stars.

The tour goes along four idyllic beaches, surrounded by tropical fish and hawksbill turtles in the coral reefs. In the late afternoon, the group takes refuge among the endless rows of palm trees for a buffet lunch. If you wish, you can add lobster to your plate for an additional supplement.

At the end of the day you will be toasted with Dominican rum before being driven back to your point of origin. Check out this clip and see the destination that awaits you.

Details of interest

  • Price: From 99 €.
  • Duration: 9 - 10 hours.
  • What the tour may include: Speedboat ride on four beaches around Saona Island. Entrance to Cotubanama National Park. Buffet lunch. Unlimited national drinks. Transportation to and from the hotel or villa.
  • Pros: It is an exceptional tour that allows you to appreciate beautiful national parks, mangroves, a turtle sanctuary and sea stars.
  • Cons: The round trip transportation service goes around all the hotels in a bus or minibus. It will be at least 2 hours (1 hour each way) in transportation.

Book your excursion to Saona Island from Punta Cana

Tips for an excursion to Saona Island

Family on the Beach| ©Pixabay
Family on the Beach| ©Pixabay
  • Bring waterproof cameras. On the surface of the island you can take very nice pictures, but its real treasures are under the ma and the pictures that are sold on the island range from 10 € to 30 € (yes, I am not exaggerating). I don't know what you think but it seems to me that it is worth the investment in the camera.
  • Keep in mind that from Punta Cana to Saona Island the trip takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. That's more than two hours round trip. The tours that are offered with 3 hours actually contemplate a reduced time on the island's beaches. Tours with more than 6 hours are the best day trips in Punta Cana.
  • If you are traveling with small children, make your own way to the excursion host sites, why? Each operator has a bus or minibus that provides daily pick-up service for the day's tour. Often it takes 1 to 2 hours to get from your hotel or villa to the port or embarkation dock, which can be uncomfortable for the little ones.
  • Protect the starfish. The colorfulness of these species is tremendously attractive and of course it is provocative to touch them but please protect the marine fauna by avoiding contact with them. Observe them from a distance, take all the pictures you want but do not take them out of the sea, with the stress you generate you can end their life.

The best time to go to Saona Island

Day in Saona Island| ©nicolas_gt_photographe
Day in Saona Island| ©nicolas_gt_photographe

The climate is temperate and the waters are calm all year round but if you are interested in finding hawksbill turtles in the Mano de Juan Sea Turtle Sanctuary - the largest and best known of the island - book your visit to Saona Island between August and September.

For those more interested in giant red starfish, I recommend you plan your visit to Saona Island in January when these asteroids are abundant.

What are the advantages of taking a guided tour vs. visiting Saona Island on my own?

Boat and Saona Island| ©Roman Mktn
Boat and Saona Island| ©Roman Mktn

To get to Saona Island there are only four ways available:

  • Combining catamaran and private boat (because of the dimensions of the catamarans you must change to smaller vessels in Bayahibe).
  • In direct private boats.
  • By submarine.
  • By helicopter.

There is no land road available between Punta Cana and this Dominican island. If you decide to go on your own, you would have to hire services for each beach you decide to visit, so the best alternative is to visit Saona Island with a tour or excursion.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is Isla Saona known for?

    Isla Saona has grown in popularity in recent years due to its pristine beaches, turquoise waters and remote appearance. The island is also part of the Parque Nacional del Este, meaning that the whole island is a protected nature reserve, so wildlife such as starfish and others should not be disturbed under strict rules.

  • What movies have been filmed on Saona Island?

    Saona Island is known for being the filming location of The Blue Lagoon, but scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong (Peter Jackson's version) and the commercial for Bounty chocolate bars have also been shot there.

  • How long does it take to get to Saona Island from Punta Cana?

    The truth is that it is quite easy to get to the island, either by motorboat or catamaran from the coast of Bayahibe. However, it is important to note that it takes about 3.5 hours to get to Bayahibe from Punta Cana by bus. For this reason, Saona Island is not worth the trip for many, but they miss out on pristine beaches, breathtaking scenery and one of the unique experiences the Dominican Republic has to offer.