Saona Island Day Trips from Punta Cana

The best way to visit Saona Island from Punta Cana is with a complete tour. Luckily, you'll 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 kilometres of pristine, wave-free waters. Visits to its mangroves, nature 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 when travelling from Punta Cana to Saona Island. All you have to do is choose the best time to visit the Dominican island and book the tour that suits you best.

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 a festive atmosphere. This is what this catamaran excursion to Isla Saona offers you.

The tour usually starts with a pick-up at your hotel and takes you to Bayahibe, where you board a catamaran that goes straight to an idyllic beach, the popular Natural Pool of Isla Saona.

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

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

Interesting details

  • Price: From 74 €.
  • Duration: 9 hours.
  • What the tour usually includes: Transport to and from your hotel. Buffet lunch with typical Dominican food. Light snacks. Unlimited national drinks.
  • Pros: This is the ideal plan for travellers who want to spend a day at the beach with a difference and 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 Chavón Tour

Altos de Chavón| ©Tammy Green
Altos de Chavón| ©Tammy Green

Combine a visit to Saona Island with a Mediterranean village in the Caribbean and Cotubanama National Park with this day trip from Punta Cana. It's certainly on a par with the Macao Beach tours offered in the area.

After gathering the group, you'll move on to La Romana where you'll stroll through Altosde Chavón, a quaint Mediterranean village where you'll find the Altos de Chavón Regional Archaeological Museum.

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

Towards Saona Island

After the walk, the group boards 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, soon comes into view.

The guide will explain the history of the place while the boat moves through mangroves to anchor at the Natural Pool of Saona Island, a beach of crystal clear 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 midday, a typical lunch is served and the party continues 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 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 alike.
  • Cons: The group capacity of 50 people may be too large for some travellers.

Book your excursion to Isla Saona and Altos de Chavón from Punta Cana

3. Tour to Saona Island by submarine with diving and snorkelling.

Snorkelling in Saona Island| ©cn4117
Snorkelling in Saona Island| ©cn4117

The trip from Punta Cana to Saona Island takes just over an hour. On the way you will discover an underwater world of different textures and colours. In fact, the water is so crystal clear that it's hard to believe it's real. That's why it's best to see for yourself with a dive in the Caribbean Sea.

The best way to enjoy the spectacle is on board a tourist submarine and that is what this type of tour offers.

The panoramic views you get from the submarine's skylights are beautiful. Take your pictures and experience the first encounter with the marine fauna that this tour offers, a favourite with the little ones (make a note of this activity among your things to do in Punta Cana with kids.

Diving and snorkelling

Isla Saona is a Dominican paradise for divers of all levels. Make the most of a dive and then try one of the best snorkelling experiences in Punta Cana.

Swim to your heart's content or grab your mask and snorkel to snorkel in the shallow waters. At midday 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 spot the famous starfish of the area.
  • Cons: The capacity of the submarine is 30 people and the pick-up from the various hotels takes time.

4. VIP Helicopter Excursion to the beaches of Saona Island

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

Swimming, exclusive beach visits, lobster lunch and memorable panoramic views of Isla Saona are the premises of this type of excursion. Come on, it's an experience that stimulates the senses in the Dominican Caribbean.

After pick up from 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 Isla Saona.

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

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

Details of interest

  • Price: From €325.
  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • What the tour usually includes: Transport 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 drinks and cocktails.
  • Pros: The views are spectacular (this is the favourite tour of photographers on Saona Island). It offers a different perspective to enjoy the Caribbean Sea free of crowds and with luxurious 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 normally meets at the main car park in Bayahibe to board a private boat to Saona Island.

The sea breeze, coconut trees, mangroves and turquoise waters serve as a backdrop for this 1 hour tour that soon reaches one of the most beautiful spots on Saona: Playa del Toro, where you can take a swim and see the first shoals of fish on the tour.

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

At the end of the tour you will have free time for lunch in the area. The speciality is lobster and the prices are reasonable, so you can feast your eyes on it.

Then you will return to the boat to sail 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: Transport 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 along beautiful beaches but does not include additional services such as entrance fees to nature reserves, food or drinks. However, food is usually reasonably priced on Saona Island.

Book a snorkelling excursion in Punta Cana

6. Excursion to the beaches of Isla Saona

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

After being picked up from 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 through mangroves, white sandbanks and the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre, located at Playa Mano de Juan, as well as encountering sea stars.

The tour takes you along four idyllic beaches, surrounded by tropical fish and hawksbill turtles on 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.

Interesting details

  • Price: From 99 €.
  • Duration: 9 - 10 hours.
  • What the tour may include: Speedboat ride to 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 see beautiful national parks, mangroves, a turtle sanctuary and starfish.
  • Cons: The shuttle service goes to and from all the hotels in a bus or minibus. You will spend at least 2 hours (1 hour each way) on the shuttle.

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 beautiful pictures, but the real treasures are under the sea and the pictures sold on the island range from 10 € to 30 € (yes, I'm not exaggerating). I don't know what you think but I think it's worth the investment in the camera.
  • Bear in mind that the journey from Punta Cana to Isla Saona takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. That's more than two hours round trip. The tours that are offered with 3 hours actually allow for a reduced time on the island's beaches. Tours longer than 6 hours are the best day trips in Punta Cana.
  • If you're travelling with small children, make your own way to the tour host sites - why? Each operator has a bus or minibus that provides a daily pick-up service for the day's tour. Often it takes 1-2 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 colourfulness of these species is tremendously attractive and of course it's a pleasure to touch them, but please protect the marine fauna by avoiding contact with them. Observe them from a distance, take as many photos as you want, but don't take them out of the sea, as the stress you generate can kill them.

The best time to go to Saona Island

A day on Saona Island| ©nicolas_gt_photographe
A day on Saona Island| ©nicolas_gt_photographe

The climate is temperate and the waters are calm all year round but if you're interested in finding the hawksbill turtles at the Mano de Juan Sea Turtle Sanctuary - the largest and best known on 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

There are only four ways to get to Saona Island:

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

There is no land route available between Punta Cana and this Dominican island. If you decide to go on your own, you will 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, i.e. the whole island is a protected nature reserve, so wildlife such as starfish and others should not be disturbed under strict rules.

  • Which films have been shot on Isla Saona?

    Saona Island is best known as the filming location for The Blue Lagoon, but it has also been the location for scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong (Peter Jackson's version) and the Bounty chocolate commercial.

  • How long does it take to get to Isla Saona 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, Isla Saona is not worth the trip for many, but you are missing out on pristine beaches, breathtaking scenery and one of the unique experiences the Dominican Republic has to offer.