Our trip towards the island began with an exhilarating speed boat ride and a stop at the natural pool for a swim. Near the island, there is a massive sandbar which creates an expansive area of shallow, waist deep water known as the natural pool within the Caribbean Sea. The water is inhabited by colorful and spiny starfish. The shores of Saona Island are lined with white sand and windblown palm trees. I could spend endless hours lounging on the beach, watching the turquoise waters blend into the azure skies.
We booked the excursion via Best Day Travel, which is affiliated with BookIt. It was a VIP tour package which only departs Tuesdays each week. This is due to the beach, Playa Tao, being reserved for certain tour groups to ensure a more private experience. When booking a tour to Saona Island, it is important to know the details regarding the modes of transportation. The drive from Punta Cana to Bayihibe, where the boats are, takes about an hour and a half. I recommend taking a speed boat, as opposed to a catamaran, to minimize time in transit to the natural pool and island. In addition, if you are prone to motion sickness, the speed boat is the way to go. It cuts across the waves smoothly and with ease. In fact, my mom, who easily gets seasick, thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
The shores by the beach did not have any docks. As a result, we got off and on the boat by wading into the water. On the island, you may be approached by vendors and masseuses selling Larimar, a blue mineral found only in the Dominican Republic, and offering massages. If you are not interested in either you can politely and firmly decline.
The island is home to about 500 people. We did not venture from the beach. If you are interested in the island life, there are tours which will take you to the town of Mano Juan. Do your research in regards to the type of island and beach experience you want. We throughly enjoyed the beach we stayed at, Playa Tao. Another great beach option based on online reviews would be the remote Canto de la Playa.