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“Isla Saona” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Isla Saona

Isla Saona
Isla Saona, Republica Dominicana, Parque Nacional del Este, Dominican Republic
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Catamaran Cruise to Saona Island from Punta Cana
Type: Islands, Outdoors
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Wilton Manors, Florida
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Isla Saona”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

We went on a tour from our resort Grand Bahia Principe in La Romana and purchased our tour from a tour operator in the lobby of the hotel. Online before we left the price was between $85 and $90 per person. We got it from a tour operator in the hotel lobby on the day we arrived for $60 per person. We were picked up at 8:40 in the morning from the hotel and told that it would be a 20 minute ride to La Romana. Nothing is 15 to 20 minutes, if you are in a rush you are on the wrong tour and in the wrong country. We first stopped at their tourist stop where things were a bit over priced I though we were not going to have another chance so I thought if you wanted to get something I had to get it there. The problem is that now you have to lug it around with you for the rest of the day. From there we headed to Bayahibe beach which is a town where the majority of the population is from somewhere else. It is a place where foreigners have formed a little community. We went to their beautiful little beach and boarded a speed boat to get to the island. If you go to the island on a speed boat you return on the Catamaran. The speed boat is pretty quick about 30 to 40 minutes. You stop on your way on a sand bar in the middle of the ocean where you can take pictures holding a star fish and swim around. They are always serving Cuba Libre's to you no matter if it is first thing in the morning. You swim around for about 15 minutes and take pictures and then re-board the fast boat to continue your trip to the Island. Once there you are free to do what you want for the afternoon. Swim, snorkle, or lay in the sun. At 1pm you are served a hot barbacue buffet styly and there is a bar where you can continue to drink and in my case have some more water. It is extremely hot and the bugs are a problem but as long as you continue to apply sunscreen and bring your bug spray you can have a nice afternoon. I live in Fort Lauderdale and lived in Santo Domingo 42 years ago and I did not remember the stifling heat that we had while there this time. We were there from May 5 to May 11, 2013. You are on the water so you can always jump back in whenever the heat gets to be too much. On the Island you have the vendors that come around with their artesania. You can get a good deal here if you bargain for it. They will always give you a price that is way above what they will really accept so if you are a good haggler this is your place. I bought a amber ring that flips over and has a tourquoise stone on the other side that started out at 40 and I ended up with two rings for the same price. They also have someone that comes around with Dominican and Cuban cigars and Coconut Oil to buy, again try to bargain with them. The tours have photographers that film and photograph you all day and once on the island they sell you the CD. The starting price on our tour was $40, they first show you all the pictures of you and your family and then the next day they return to your hotel and give you a video of the whole day. We had taken our own pictures so we choose not to purchase but the guy sitting next to us had worked out a deal where he paid $25 and I heard the Tour operator tell him not to tell anyone. I also heard him say that several times to others. I asked if we could have our photos for $20 and he said no. So the lowest ours was willing to accept was $25 so keep that in mind. The ride home was on a Catamaran and that was wonderful, the ride was about 1 1/2 hours and there is dancing and drinking as you go so if that is you thing this is your tour. They also continue to have water and sodas. The part of the tour that is unpleasant is the ride home on the bus. If the ride there on the bus was too much the ride home is worse because you are now tired and sticky and wet and you have to get back to your hotel. We were the last to be picked up so we were the first to be dropped off but with the traffic because of the time of day and the distance it took 1 hour 15 to get us from Bayahibe to our hotel Gran Bahia Principe in La Romana. They still had to drop people off at Baca Chica and Santo Domingo so for them it had to have been horrible. The Island is fabulous but the ground transportation is difficult so bring your patience and maybe a change of clothes. I think that we were back home around 6:30 pm hot, wet and tired. The day is all inclusive where the food and drinks and boat and bus transportation are all included in the price you pay.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Naples, Florida
Top Contributor
96 reviews 96 reviews
25 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
“Pedestrian excursion but breathtakingly beautiful natural scenery”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2013

To enjoy you need to let your hair down and just go with the flow. Commit a day as everything takes a bit longer than expected. That said the guides are cheerful. You go one way between La Romana and Isla Saona by "speedboat" (large open boats with multiple rows of 4 across bench seating). They have twin 6 cylinder outboards so even when full they fly. They stop a few times in route to allow swimming and sightseeing including the mingling of the waters of the dark Atlantic Ocean and the clear green waters of the Caribbean Sea. The other leg between La Romana and Isal Saona is by large catamaran. This leg is direct as it is much slower. On the island you have about 3 hours free time with a very basic lunch buffet with nice grilled fish and chicken.

Visited May 2013
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Winnipeg, Canada
14 reviews 14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Saona from Viva Wyndham”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2013

The excursions from Viva Wyndham Dominicus are via large catamaran sailboat or by faster powered 'speedboat' catamaran. The speedboat has stops in mangrove and village and good shade. The sailboat takes much longer with less shade and fewer stops. The beach on Saona is private for Wyndham and much superior to beach used by independant operators. the food is provided by resort and is a very good barbecue. Booze is free, but only rum. A worthwhile excursion for the non-adventurous.

Visited February 2013
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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Great place except for the workers”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 13, 2013

I live in the Dominican and have led teams to Isla Saona 5 times now. It is beautiful. You get there by either a motor boat or catamaran and come back by the opposite of what you came on. On the motor boat they stop in several places so that the guests can enjoy the view...light snorkeling, shore cliffs, mangrove trees, a "natural pool", and a star fish bed. The snorkel gear is a little old and leaks, but people have a good time. They throw out bread and a team of fish congregates, but there is really only like 1 or 2 types of fish to see. There isn't anything special about the cliffs or the mangroves. The starfish bed is just a bunch of dead starfish they have left out to show people. One of the workers jumps in the water and lifts it up for people to see, but tell them they can't take the starfish out of the water for more than a second or else they'll die. Completely not true, because they are all already dead, but it is is really fun for the new visitors and it makes us smile every time. The "natural pool" is basically a huge sandbar about 4 feet in depth where people can get out and swim for 30 to 60 minutes. It is crystal clear waters and a lot of fun. Coke is served on both the trip to and from the island.

The island itself is gorgeous, a tropical paradise. There are palm trees, crystal clear blue waters, and soft sand. In the ocean, it is a bit rocky under the sand and it can take skin off the toes, so be careful. A free buffet lunch (included in the trip cost) is served around 12:30 or 1pm and there is an all you can drink bar that serves water, sodas, and I think beer. You can get a decent 30 minute message for about $20 or 3 on my team negotiated a group rate for $45 for 3. There is also a volleyball net and you can borrow a volleyball somewhere.

What I always dislike about the trip is the workers. Some are just fine and kind, but most of them want you to drink hard, party hard, and leave large tips. They play the music ridiculously loud and won't turn it down. If you don't leave big tips, they'll be rude to you and even flip you off. On the catamaran trip they usually have scantily clad ladies (major cleavage and I'm constantly seeing their underwear/bathing suit bottoms under their mini skirts) who go around and try to get male guest to dance with them...often times inappropriately. On shore, the ladies who give messages and the venders are constantly calling out to you and coming up and touching you to try to get you to get a message or buy their goods. If you tell them no, they will continue to solicit you until you get rude with them, and then they walk away with a grudge.

Next week we will be bringing a team of 100 and I'm begging my husband to not to have to go again. I have lived in the Dominican for several years now and most Dominicans are very loving, gracious, and kind, which is very much different from the attitudes of many of the workers in the tourist areas that cater heavily to foreigners. They are aggressive to the point of meanness, they expect you to drink and party heavily and then leave large tips, and they will poke at you, often times literally, for you to purchase their services or goods. After this last trip, I was up all night with heartburn from the stress.

Visited February 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Plant coconut palm trees very near about 1,5 meters from the sea/water”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2012

Saona Island. Because of visit by many tourists on the beaches, coconut trees do not get peace to replant on the beach - very near the water/sea - about 1,5 meters (See the photo with the palms swaying over the water). Result: Beaches change - become wider and wider! Our wish is that some visitors when they visit Saona Island, will plant coconut trees very near the water, because it makes the beaches so beautiful (Like postcards). Often you can find a small germinating coconut plant among the palm trees in the background and use that for planting.We always try to plant one or two coconut trees, when we visit a tropical beach. If you intend to take up the idea, you are wellcome to contact us for further information about spots on the island.

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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