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Saona Island Reality please

Portsmouth, United...
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497 posts
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Saona Island Reality please

Hello everyone......I'm looking for a bit of a reality check please !

I've been reading my guidebook on DR.....its says when snorkelling here...... keep an eye out for manatees, they are about off the beaches at Saona Island......!!

I would love to experience this but I'm guessing the likelihood of seeing one of these is minimal : (

but if this is the best place to catch a glimpse maybe its worth a try........perhaps you could advise if this trip is worth taking from PC

regardless.........is the beach any better than Bavaro ? Any other details would be much appreciated. Many thanks.....

Wannabe

Winnipeg, Canada
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1. Re: Saona Island Reality please

Ooooo, lots of information, good and bad regarding Saona Island, can't answer about the manatees as I have never seen them, I have seen the "planted" starfish though...lol, the bus ride is long and informative if you have a good guide (narrator) but for being away from your resort, if it's a good one, for 12-13 hours is just a little too much for my liking when the beach at my resort was better and more swimmable due to rocks etc. in the ocean at Saona. Plus, the vendors on that beach swarm you as soon as you got off the boat and don't stop till you leave. Lunch was really good though.

Just put in Saona in the search box above and read some more there, lots for it and lots against it.

Cheers, Debbie

newfoundland
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124 posts
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2. Re: Saona Island Reality please

I went to Saona Island in April. Really wished I didn't!!!!

The bus ride was so long. 2 1/2 hours getting there and 3 hours to get back.

The beach at out resort was a lot nicer than the beach at the island.

It just seemed to me that I wasted a lot of vacation time travelling to spend 2 1/2 hours on the island, and they wern't relaxing because you were being haggled by locals the whole time you were ther.

The only wild life I saw was 1 planted star fish that was shared between 60 tourists for pictures.

I would give it 2 thumbs down.

Bayahibe, Dominican...
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3. Re: Saona Island Reality please

about manatees, I've not heard of anyone actually seeing one near Saona - they are shy creatures so would probably avoid hoards of people and speed boats.

However, a group have recently been spotted on the north coast :-))))))

www.sosuanews.com/index.php?id=2242&article=1

Kansas City...
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4. Re: Saona Island Reality please

Thumbs down here too. I would have welcomed a Manatee on this trip.......

Ellicott City MD
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5. Re: Saona Island Reality please

After doing Saona 2 times..I have to agree and will not be going back.

However..

We went with Dive Pros to Catalina Island for scuba and snorkeling.

The swimming was much better and the snorkeling at the island was fantastic.

Great lunch as well

Winnipeg, Canada
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14,282 posts
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6. Re: Saona Island Reality please

Look up KAKI here on the forums, she has a great thread regarding Saona as her experience has been much different than ours but she books it from a different place.

Cheers, Debbie

Punta Cana...
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7. Re: Saona Island Reality please

Saona Island Tour for Snorkeling

I name just a waste of min 3hrs traveltime plus the Vendors huts ripp of shopping time WASTE.

on that Tour offered for many thousands per week to the same spots there's not much and often nothing to see in the water.

Manatees,

YES,

they are beautiful and they are very Rare.

You will never see any of those great mammals aroundSaona nor would you find any on the East Coast here in Punta Cana to take a Foto.

the few ones of that endangered Spezies are located on our Island's North Shore, a 2 hrs flight away from Saona Island, on the exact opposite side of the Island.

shoot the vendor/travel agent without any clue selling such Tour.

happy travels

Mike

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for La Romana, Bayahibe
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8,053 posts
10 reviews
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8. Re: Saona Island Reality please

There is a Saona alternative. It is run by a small independent outfit, not promoted by international tour operators nor sold in hotels. I've been doing their tours since 2006 and feel that they are beyond compare, even to the good ones. In comparison to the day described by the posters above, it's actually the tour that you think you're buying when you see an advertisement for a pristine Caribbean beach. Entirely different.

This company, Seavis Tours, offers eco tours. http://www.seavisbayahibe.com/Welcome_e.htm They respect the National Park that Saona is within, and they put their resources into saving the turtles and directly supporting the community that is the village of Mano Juan on Saona Island. They have built a museum for the benefit of the people there and for the benefit of tourists visiting the village. They cook the food fresh at lunch time and they ensure that the boat departs the private beach where you spend the afternoon without any detritus left behind. You are given a guided tour of the island with the history of how a dozen families were brought there in 1944 to start a population. It's ever so different from the first trip I did to Saona Island in 2004 where you eat spaghetti on the beach surrounded by fellow tourists who have just taken the party from the hotel to an island with a non-stop run of vendors selling coconut oil and souvenirs. Not that there's anything wrong with that (I enjoyed it enough that I wanted a repeat trip to Saona, though I wanted a bit of a change), but some of us are looking for more. The beach where you spend the bulk of your afternoon with the Saona VIP tour has an inshore bank of reefs with some great snorkeling in the clearest waters in the most accommodating conditions for amateurs and experienced alike.

I have an album of the tour I went on in January posted at travel.webshots.com/album/577077144nIIgGY This Google Earth image shows Punta Cana to the east and Bayahibe to the southwest from where you catch the boat. …webshots.com/photo/2029643270064234328nrIVeO On most days, the travel time will be 90 minutes by cab from Punta Cana to the boat beach. On rare occasions there will be a delay due to traffic or humankind. Considering that the tour tops out at less than 24 people on a boat, most of which will be traveling from Bayahibe, there is usually not more than 6 people coming from Punta Cana so collecting passengers isn't the same as when you have a bus with 45 people on board. After the January outing, I went again on both April 13 and April 20 with two sets of friends (it's a tough life, but I'm doing it as a service to my pals!). The Google Earth image shows the island and where it is that you stop for your beach time, on the far south side of Saona Island. To see that on a map makes it worth the trip right there! If you can use the "Full Size" option in the top right it will show you more detail. If you can't access it, I can send you the image if you'd like.

Though the album is full of beach pictures, I tossed some tropical paradise shots in at the end which start at …webshots.com/photo/2100114830064234328jnfnVu You can see in the underwater pictures that the reef there is healthy too.

I'm not going to pretend that 90 minutes at the beginning and end of the day isn't something to be reckoned with, but you can either doze or enjoy the drive as part of the tour that is the day. I do the transfer every time I travel to the DR and land in Punta Cana and have grown to appreciate the trip. You will see the city of Higuey, will drive through actively growing sugarcane and most likely will see harvesting in some of the fields as well, done the old fashioned way...by hand and with a team of oxen nearby. Once you get to the other side of Higuey you'll see the Caribbean appear on the horizon periodically and then when it appears once at Bayahibe, it's quite exciting. You will see a real slice of Dominican life by the small residential areas that you pass through too, all of which is different from what you'll see driving from the airport to your hotel in Punta Cana.

You can read TA reviews at tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g663484-d1…

The starfish are naturally found in the area, though they are often brought into the sandy areas by man to ensure that the tourists in the boats can see them. The starfish retreat to their preferred areas of grass and food sources when left to their own devices overnight or after a few hours. Please don't put them on your head when you have your opportunity with them. They must be kept under water. They extend beyond the sand bar at Piscina Natural to the entire area, as you see when going through the mangrove forest and into the Catuano Channel. Thinking that they are not natural there is like thinking that Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia is a theme park (as people have asked on a number of occasions)!

Kaki

Portsmouth, United...
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497 posts
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9. Re: Saona Island Reality please

Thanks everyone so much for your replies........sadly its as I thought, defo a trip to miss.......my guidebook is some years old so no doubt much has changed since it was written : (

I can't stand being hassled by traders either, the worst ever we experienced was in Luxor, I try to be understanding but man it gets on my nerves if they won't take no for answer, it puts me off buying anything at all.........I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

I will look into Kaki's trip and Catalina Island.........they sound much more our cup of tea..........no chance of seeing manatees but I can keep hoping !!

Cheers again for your advice.

Wannabe aka wannaseeamanatee ; )

Bayahibe, Dominican...
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10. Re: Saona Island Reality please

If it's any consolation you may see wild dolphins on the boat trip to Saona.