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Saona Island vs Catalina Island: Differences, Similarities, and Which to Choose

1. Which is better, going to Saona Island or Catalina Island?

Despite the proximity between Catalina Island and Saona Island, both look very different. Therefore, the ideal would be to visit both destinations and enjoy the charms they both offer. However, if time is limited, choosing between one of these two islands will largely depend on your personal preferences. To find the perfect option, it is essential to know the differences and similarities between both. That’s why we’re here to help you discover which is the best option for you!

1.1. Similarities between Catalina Island and Saona Island

Both islands are located in the southeast of the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean region. This shared geographical location contributes to some of the similarities they share, such as:

  • the characteristic tropical climate of the area
  • the warm, crystal-clear, turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving
  • their stunning natural beauty, which includes the lush vegetation typical of the area, with incredible white sandy beaches surrounded by coconut trees

Both Catalina Island and Saona Island offer a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere, with dreamy beaches that are ideal for unwinding, enjoying the sun, and nature.

1.2. Differences between Saona Island and Catalina Island

Despite the proximity between these two Caribbean jewels, each one has its own charm and distinctive features. Saona Island is known as one of the most beautiful places in the Dominican Republic, while Catalina Island stands out for its stunning coral reefs.

1.2.1. Saona Island

  • Tours to Saona Island depart from Bayahíbe, a fishing village located in the eastern region of the Dominican Republic.
  • Saona Island, being larger and more well-known than Catalina, attracts a greater number of visitors due to its fame and natural beauty. This popularity makes it a busier destination.
  • One of the distinctive features of the tour to Saona Island is the experience aboard the catamaran, a festive atmosphere with music and live entertainment.
  • Within the East National Park, where Saona Island is located, lies a unique natural wonder: the natural pool. In this idyllic corner, you can swim and relax in shallow, crystal-clear waters, surrounded by an environment of unparalleled beauty.
beach-saona-island
Saona Island

1.2.2. Catalina Island

  • Tours to Catalina Island generally depart from La Romana, a coastal city in the southeast of the Dominican Republic.
  • In contrast to the bustling popularity of Saona Island, Catalina Island offers a quieter and less crowded experience. It’s the perfect choice for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy a more exclusive and relaxed environment.
  • One of the main attractions of Catalina Island is its stunning coral reefs, which surround the island and harbor a diversity of marine life. These reefs are ideal for snorkeling or diving, as they offer the opportunity to observe a wide variety of colorful fish, vibrant corals, and other marine creatures in their natural habitat.
beach-catalina-island
Catalina Island

2. Experience on tours to Catalina Island and Saona Island

To give you a broader idea of the difference between Catalina Island and Saona Island, we’ll tell you how each tour is conducted.

You can take tours to Catalina and Saona Islands in two ways: by going directly to the embarkation point or by choosing the option with pickup from your hotel in Punta Cana.

Saona Island

  • The day begins with hotel pickups around 7 am.
  • Arrival at the embarkation point in Bayahíbe around 10 in the morning
  • By speedboat, you’ll arrive at the natural pool where you can swim
  • Time on Saona Island’s beach
  • Buffet lunch on the beach
  • Return by catamaran with onboard entertainment to the port around 4-5 in the afternoon
  • Return to the hotel

You can take the tour to Saona Island for as little as 55 dollars.

*Example with one-way transportation by boat. If by catamaran, the order of activities will be reversed.

Catalina Island

  • The day begins with hotel pickups around 7 am.
  • Arrival at the embarkation point in La Romana around 10 in the morning
  • De motomarán, você chegará ao recife de coral para fazer snorkel
  • Time on Catalina Island’s beach
  • Buffet lunch on the beach
  • Return by motomaran to the port around 4-5 in the afternoon
  • Return to the hotel

You can take the tour to Catalina Island with snorkeling for as little as 55 dollars.

Alternatively, if you’re certified and prefer the Catalina Island tour with diving, it’s available from 120 dollars.

*Example with snorkeling, if diving is chosen, there will be a second dive.

3. Saona Island or Catalina Island? Which one to choose?

The choice between Saona Island and Catalina Island depends on your personal preferences, as both islands are beautiful and worth visiting. It would be ideal to explore both. However, if you’re forced to choose between one or the other, consider the following:

If you prefer a quieter, less touristy environment and enjoy snorkeling or diving, Catalina Island might be the best option for you.

If you’re looking for a livelier experience with paradise-like landscapes, Saona Island might be more suitable for you.

Both options sound amazing, don’t they?

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