Take a Private Yacht to Saona Island
If you’re coming to the Dominican Republic, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Saona Island. It’s by far the #1 tourist attraction in the Dominican Republic with hundreds of visitors daily, mainly on day excursions from the all-inclusive resorts of Punta Cana.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with the normal excursion to Saona…
The day includes shared bus transport from Punta Cana to Bayahibe (the island’s jump off point), a shared speed boat out to the island, buffet lunch on Saona and then a shared, slow moving catamaran back to the mainland. The normal Isla Saona excursion is great for those looking for fun and sun.
But if you’re looking for a more intimate and exclusive experience, there’s another little known option - The Saona Island Private Yacht.
Since so many tour operators offer the normal Saona island excursion, most tourists never even see the Private Yacht option as it’s only sold by a select number of operators. In any case, it’s in your best interest to search out the yacht because the experience is beyond top notch.
The day goes something like this…
Your own private driver and licensed tour guide pick you up at your hotel lobby and transfer you to where the yacht awaits in Bahayibe Bay. The yacht itself is super cool! It’s 52 feet with 4 bathrooms, 2 beds, a kitchen, dining table with seating, front netting and an upper deck area for a better view of it all. And the boat is stocked! Rum, Beer, Wine, Champagne, Mamajuana (a local elixir), and lots of mixers. Best of all, since it’s your own private charter, you can put more of whatever alcohol you like best. And since no one can “drink and be merry” without food there’s plenty of h'ordeuvres! (small sandwiches with lobster, chicken and tuna, chips, salsa, nuts, and cheeses).
All of this and you haven’t arrived at Saona yet!
Now, at 100 square kilometers, Saona is a behemoth of an offshore island with miles of unobstructed tropical beach, turquoise waters and coconut palms. It really is the quintessential, tropical shoreline in the Caribbean; and you get your own private section of the beach! Yep, beach loungers, tiki bar and lunch area for your group and your group only.
Depending on what “floats your boat”, the highlight of the trip may be the yacht itself, the alcohol, or even the beach. But for me it’s the lunch! Wow, what a spread: Lobster, shrimp, spaghetti pomodoro, barbecued chicken, grilled pork, vegetables, rice, salad, and even some coffee and cake to top things off.
Finally, on the way back from the island to the mainland there’s a surprise stop. So, they call this place the “natural swimming pool”. It’s actually a shallow sandbar far from the coast of the Cotubanama National Park. Basically, you’re swimming in waist high, clear waters in the middle of the ocean! Oh, and there’s starfish at your feet. The natural swimming pool really gave lunch a run for its money on my highlight scale! But a lobster lunch, on the beach, stole the show for me.
Isla Saona is really a must do for everyone who visits Punta Cana. If you want a booze cruise, with others, then more power to you and definitely take the normal excursion to Saona. But, if you want a more private experience for you and your family/friends, the Saona island yacht is really a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
How many times in life will you privatize your own yacht to a beautiful offshore island in the Caribbean Sea?
Thomas J Murray
TJ Murray is an expert on travel in the Dominican Republic. He has wandered the country's furthest reaches and smallest corners and has a passion for highlighting his favorite destinations through travel articles and photography. When TJ isn't traveling in the Dominican Republic, he is trekking around the globe or surfing where he lives in Bavaro, Dominican Republic