Sometimes you have an experience that leaves you with incredible memories. Ideally, this is what happens every time you travel – however, it’s so much less likely to happen if you don’t explore your destination some.

I’ve been guilty of this: I was a self-described “resort bum”, opting to lay by the pool on my vacations instead of booking excursions and enjoying the region. I’ve learned the error of my ways – it become more than apparent during my last trip to Dominican Republic.

I was there with my mother in the height of the “DR Travel Crisis” of 2019, and was determined to see part of the island I didn’t experience during my two prior trips. I’d heard so much about Saona Island and decided that this would be the move.

Saona Island

Mom and I booked the “Saona VIP Excursion” with AmStar Destination Management Company right there at our resort, opting for the VIP upgrade due to the lobster lunch and more exclusive part of Saona Island. (this is a huge tourist destination, so the less people, the better). We were a little concerned because this was a LONG excursion (10 hours), but we were also really excited!

We had to meet our bus at the hotel lobby at 7am, where we boarded a large, partially full charter bus. We rode about 15 minutes to a parking lot just outside of Punta Cana International Airport, where we picked up the remaining guests who were staying over in Cap Cana (they were brought to the lot by passenger van). Once assembled, we began the 60 minute journey to Bayahibe. During the drive, our tour guide gave us incredible information about the history and culture of DR, many things I didn’t know. It was so informative.

Upon arrival to shore in Bayahibe (which had a TON of buses and people), we got our wristbands and boarded a small boat that took us over to our larger catamaran. We were given the opportunity to snorkel for 30 minutes before boarding the catamaran for our cruise. For the next 2 hours, we drank rum & cokes, danced (hey Louis!), ate and just enjoyed the incredible views of the Caribbean Sea while we sailed over to Saona Island. Halfway there, we stopped at the crystal lagoon, where we have some time to wade and play in the incredibly clear water. I mean….paradise.

Our Catamaran and crew

Upon arriving to Saona, we said farewell to our catamaran crew (bye Louis!:( ) and walked down the beach to our lobster buffet brunch. More rum and coke. After lunch, we were given 90 minutes to hang on the beach before boarding a speedboat to take us back to Bayahibe and, eventually, back to the resort. The speedboat took all of 45 minutes to get us back.

Beach at Saona Island

Yes, this was a full day, but it was incredible and totally worth the $120 per person that we paid. I have NOTHING negative to say about this excursion – I would recommend it in a heartbeat. I would do it again, in a heartbeat.

It was paradise.