Saona Island – A Peaceful Paradise
Have you dreamed of spending a holiday on a really peaceful island where there would be pure white beaches with swaying palms and crystal clear water? Well, there may be many islands with those features. But the one I am talking about has two special features – it’s the largest Mediterranean island and it has got an exclusive starfish colony! Yes, I am talking about Saona Island.
Saona Island is a part of the Dominican Republic and located a short distance from the southeast tip of the mainland of the country. It’s actually a nature reserve, a sanctuary for numerous species of migratory birds and is a part of the Eastern National Park. Tourists can access the island in small motorboats and catamarans under excursions that go on every day. The island is so popular among tourists mainly because of its superb beaches which have been used in many films and advertisements too.
Named after the region of an Italian co-voyager of Don Christopher Columbus, hailing from Savona, an Italian region, Saona Island has only a few populated areas, the main of which is Mano Juan, a very spectacular settlement. It’s a fishing hamlet having attractive pastel wood houses and is a craft center. The tiny settlement has only 69 houses with around 500 inhabitants who are very friendly, hospitable and joyful. If you live in a bustling city, this rural atmosphere of Saona Island will appeal you the most because it has no tall buildings!
With miles of serene beaches with white sand and transparent blue water, Saona Island has some interesting caves too that remind the existence of the native Tainos. One of them is Cotubanama which is named after this region’s proud indigenous chief who was captured by the Spanish invaders and executed in Santo Domingo.
Among the many lovely beaches, the most popular is the Canto de la Playa where you can enjoy views of mangrove landscapes. Take pleasure of swimming in the clean, warm and safe waters, explore rocky pools along the shoreline, collect sparkling pebbles and watch the quiet starfish clinging to the pool walls. A special feature of Saona Island is that you can stand in waist-deep waters even hundreds of meters from the shoreline because of the shallow waters.
Saona Island is rich with coconut palms, coral reefs that offer excellent diving and snorkeling, and farms of fish and shellfish. Diving and snorkeling here is a great opportunity to watch starfish-studded coral reefs as well as the native manatees and stingrays.
The island is famous for its “Natural Pool” lagoon which is home to a great population of starfish that are indigenous to the region.
Saona Island has 112 species of birds of which 8 are endemic to the island and 11 are endemic to the Caribbean.
All in all, if you love beaches, nature, wildlife and peace, you should visit Saona Island. Plan a trip at the earliest and head towards the peaceful paradise.