The highlight of our trip to the Dominican Republic was definitely our visit to Isla Saona, a small tropical island off the south-eastern coast of the mainland. Conjure an image in your mind of a tropical island and it would likely mirror Saona’s white sand beaches and clear green waters. Saona is a protected national park, which is evident by the pristine beaches, dotted only with a few thatched cabanas and day-trippers who have been dropped off by speedboats and catamarans.
To get to Saona, we were driven from our resort to nearby Bayahibe, a small sea-side town. At Bayahibe we were taken by motor boat out to a large catamaran which would take us and a large group of very enthusiastic Canadians to Saona. Sailing on the catamaran was great fun. Sometimes we’d lounge on the netting that spanned the boat’s hulls, soaking in the sun, and sometimes we’d relax in the shade and enjoy the dance party the Canadians were engaged in on the catamaran’s deck. The rum was flowing freely and there was A LOT of dancing.
Once we approached Saona, small motorboats took us from the catamaran to the shore, where plentiful beach chairs were spread out and a Dominican barbeque was being prepared.
The waters were mesmerizing; clear and warm and green as any I’ve ever seen. It was tempting to doze off in one of the hammocks that dotted the sandy white beaches, but I was too enchanted with the sea and could hardly pull myself away from it. We floated along the sandbars, found conch shells, and made friends with more Canadians (both Québécois and Torontonian, who, upon meeting, immediately engaged in a rum-fueled debate over which part of Canada was superior).
When it was time to go, we piled onto two long thin speedboats, which dropped us off into the shallow waters of a natural sandbar, some distance away. We waded around in water that felt much too far from shore but only came up waist high, drank more rum, and marveled at the huge starfish that lived on the sand in those shallows. As the light began to fade, we piled back into the speedboats and proceeded to race each other across the ocean, cheering and taunting the other boat, and nearly bouncing out of our seats with every wave we hit—a pretty exhilarating way to end an amazing day.