Saona Island

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Native name: Isla Saona
Saona Island is located in the Dominican Republic
Saona Island
Saona Island (Dominican Republic)
Location Caribbean Sea
Coordinates 18°09′20″N 68°41′58″W / 18.15556°N 68.69944°W / 18.15556; -68.69944Coordinates: 18°09′20″N 68°41′58″W / 18.15556°N 68.69944°W / 18.15556; -68.69944
Area 110 km2 (42 sq mi)
Length 25 km (15.5 mi)
Width 5 km (3.1 mi)
Coastline 47 km (29.2 mi)
Highest elevation 35 m (115 ft)
Dominican Republic
Province La Altagracia
Population 300
Density 2.73 /km2 (7.07 /sq mi)

Saona Island (Spanish: Isla Saona) is a tropical island located a short distance from the mainland on the south-east tip of the Dominican Republic. It is a government protected nature reserve and is part of East National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional del Este). It is a popular destination for tourists from all over the Dominican Republic, who arrive in fleets of catamarans and small motorboats on organized excursions every day. The Island is famous for the natural beauty of its beaches, and has been used on many occasions by film-makers and advertisers looking for a stereotypical "desert island" setting for their film or product. It is promoted amongst European visitors as the setting for the famous Bounty chocolate bar advert.


The island was baptized "Saona" by Christopher Columbus, who discovered it in May 1494 during his second voyage to the Americas. The name was meant "... to honor Michele da Cuneo, [Columbus'] friend from Savona."[1] Columbus named Michele da Cuneo the first governor of the island.[2]

Saona Island and Savona (now part of Liguria, northern Italy) still have twinning relationships. The small power plant in Saona Island is a gift of Savona.


The seas around the Island are rich in wildlife, with many species of birds and tropical marine fish, and there are large areas where natural sandbars offshore bring the depth to just a few feet. These are once again popular with the tourist trade, with small boats stopping hundreds of meters off the beach and disgorging tourists into the waist-deep shallows where they snorkel, drink and inspect the fields of starfish indigenous to the region.

Panoramic view of Saona Island
Panoramic view of Saona Island

Twin towns[edit]


  1. ^ Paolo Emilio Taviani, Columbus the Great Adventure, Orion Books, New York (1991) p. 185
  2. ^ Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Columbus, Oxford Univ. Press, (1991) pp. 103-104.

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