The flora and fauna of the islands of Saona and Katalinita
Saona Island - largest of the islands belonging to the Dominican Republic. It is 22 kilometers long and 6 kilometers at its widest point. Total area covers about 120 square kilometers.
Saona Island is located almost at the junction of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the waters of which differ greatly in color, transparency, salinity and other ways.
On the island of Saona grow more than 500 species of tropical plants. Here there are palm groves, mangroves, and tropical shrubs. Oranges can be decorated with orchids and cedar trees share space with banana trees. Sugar cane and cocoa grow nearby.
Saona’s interesting wildlife: Iguanas hide on the branches of the mangrove trees while sea turtles roam the beach. Dolphins live near the shore and the sea cows – Manatees - slowly wade through the water.
The local waters are inhabited by more than a hundred species of mollusks and about four dozen species of fish. On the reef alone, there are ten types of coral. It is home to parrots, pelicans, huge frigates and microscopic calibri.
The history of the development of European islands
The island of Saona was first displayed on European maps that Columbus himself carried on his second expedition. Legend has it that Columbus personally asked the leader of the local Indians, cacique Cotubanama, for permission to land which the leader graciously gave.
As is happened, this decision led to bad consequences. A year later, without asking permission, one Jerónimo Anari landed on the island. In honor of his native city, he renamed the island, called Adamanay by the Indians, to "Bella Savonesa", planted a tree, planted a cross in the sand and built a gallows.
As a result of the conquerors’ actions, the leader Katubanama was soon forced to hide in a cave, later named for him. Ten years after Columbus’ first expedition, the local Indians were almost completely wiped out.
Read more: The top tour in the Dominican Republic
How to get to the island of Saona?
Saona Island can be reached by sea or by air.
Most tours depart by boat or catamaran from the town of Bayahibe. On the way you can stop and feed the colorful tropical fish and swim with a mask and flippers.
Traveling by water to Saona gives you the opportunity to admire the mangroves, deserted beaches, picturesque rocks where waves wash numerous grottoes and caves.
One other stop on the way to Saona that, without exception, every excursion group makes is the Blue Lagoon - a stunningly beautiful sandbank in the Caribbean, where starfish warm themselves on the sandy bottom. Starfish can be lifted up from the bottom to make stunning photos. Just keep in mind that starfish are living creatures and can’t remain out of the water for long.
Also Saona is accessible by helicopter from Punta Cana. A flight takes only 25 minutes. Unfortunately, swimming with starfish isn’t possible but the beauty of the Caribbean seen from a bird's-eye view is sure to leave an unforgettable impression.
On the island you can swim, sunbathe, have a nice meal and make hundreds of pictures that could easily grace the cover of any magazine.
For those who prefer the conveniences of civilization on the island, there are chaise lounges. Those looking for privacy can enjoy a walk in the palm forest along the coast.
City Artists Altos de Chavon
Another way to get to the island of Saona is by speed boat from the pier on the Chavon River near the City of Artists (Altos de Chavon).
Altos de Chavon - a small town built by order of an American entrepreneur in the early 1980’s. Construction of the city was led by the leading decorator of the film studio "Paramount Pictures".
The whole city was built in the style of a Spanish village from the Middle Ages: houses, fountains, squares and churches. The only thing that stands out from this style is a giant amphitheater where several times a year world-class stars perform.
Part of the territory of the city is occupied by the Central Art School of the Dominican Republic. They select the most talented artists from around the country and even from abroad. Students' works can be seen in local galleries and shops.
The city is situated on a cliff above the River Chavon and from the bell tower of the church of St. Stanislaus or any place along the city's waterfront, you can enjoy an aerial view of the immense panorama of the river, the mighty eagles soaring at arm's length and endless jungle on the horizon. Any place in the city is a beautiful backdrop for photos.
Desert Island Katalinita
During this trip you can visit another amazing place - a tiny island Katalinita located in the strait between the island of Saona and the coast of the Dominican Republic - where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea.
Katalinita is an uninhabited island. You will be its only its inhabitants for a few hours along with the cooks who prepares for you the traditional local dish - lobster skewers on the grill.
While they are engaged in, you can observe nesting Krasnogruda-frigate birds in the mangroves or wade waist-deep in the warm water surf at the sandbar. Here you can find the gray of starfish and beautiful shells. However, to remove anything is prohibited.
Katalinita is rich in its variety of marine life. It is a popular place for excursions in the style of "water safari", diving and snorkeling – Indeed, it is a true paradise for lovers of diving and snorkelling.
If you are going on a trip to the islands of Saona and Katalinita
- sun cream ;
- mosquito repellant;
- bathing suit;
- beach towel;
Do not forget your camera and some spending money: local traders will offer to sell you souvenirs, and just plucked coconuts and home-made coconut oil.
Saona Island and its sister Katalinta will leave you with an unforgettable romantic experience and the absolute best photographs.