We didn’t travel much when I was growing up and when we did it was inside the Dominican Republic to visit family who lived in another town. That’s why, to me, travel is a very important part of multicultural parenting and why going on a Saona Island excursion exactly three years ago today, with the whole family, was more than a treat, it was a dream come true.
Not only we were fortunate enough to be hosted by the Dominican Ministry of Tourism, which meant that we got to see many hotels in the east coast of the Dominican Republic, and visit amazing restaurants, we did all of these during my husband’s and my second child’s birthday week (yes, he was born on daddy’s birthday!). One of the highlights of that trip was taking the Saona Island excursion and that’s why I wanted to write about it here, for you guys.
I have always been a traveler at heart; I remember vividly the many trips we took to San Cristobal to visit my grandmother’s family in Cambita, the town where she was born, and the excitement I experienced during the days before as she prepared all the stuff we would bring some of the family kids that had much less than what we had to an extent. In turn, we also took home a lot of things they had in abundance but that we lacked.
Having the opportunity to travel, even if not that far from home, to be with family, play with my cousins and get special treatment at my aunt’s’ house made me curious and adventurous. I can only hope to instill the same curiosity and desire for adventure in my children and taking what at the time were two little kids under 5 to the Saona Island excursion riding on a speedboat was an experience that I will treasure forever.
As a kid, I used to visit La Romana a lot because we had cousins there, and I had been to Bayahibe many times. However, I had never been on a Saona Island excursion until we took this trip and I have to say that the Dominican Republic never ceases to amaze me with its natural beauty.
5 Tips For Taking The Saona Island Excursion With Kids
When it comes to my children’s safety I’m always on the let’s be really, really, safe side. I was hesitant at first to do the speedboat because the kids were only 4 and 2 at the time and they didn’t know how to swim. However, I’ve never been one to let hesitation get in the way of adventure, so I decided to be prepared ahead of time to make sure that our trip was a success. Of course, I want to share my tips with all of you in case you are on the planning stages of such a trip.
Plan Ahead. You can probably book your excursion even before you go to the Dominican Republic. If not, make sure you do that on day one at the hotel and ask about the times the first speedboats leave and how long does it takes you to get there from the hotel you are staying in. If you arrange everything days in advance, you will guarantee you can have a more complete experience and will make doing what I suggest next easier.
Early Rising. I love sleeping and, personally, I always side on sleeping in while on vacation in the Caribbean and then go about your day. However, this is one of those instances in which waking up early really pays off. The Saona Island excursion is an activity that is best if you can spend the whole day at the island. Making sure that you will be on the first speedboat heading to Saona is the best decision you can make. Remember, you can always have a little siesta after lunch to get into the island mood. Nothing better than to do so with the sound of the soft waves and the warm breeze as your allies.
Safety Vests. The speedboat companies have safety vests that you can wear, but those are the one size fits all kind. If your kids are small, it is best that you take your vests with you. It might seem like a lot taking that on your suitcases but it will give you peace of mind on the speedboat. My children enjoyed the ride a lot and I got to enjoy it as well because I was relaxed and was able to have fun.
Visit Mano Juan. Saona Island has a cute little town in which you can buy small souvenirs and mingle with local people. One of the benefits of getting there early is to be able to visit this other part of the island. They have beautiful tiny houses in vibrant colors and plenty of crafts you can choose from. When you book your excursion, make sure it includes a visit to Mano Juan, some excursions don’t go there.
Massage & Braids. One experience I recommend is getting a relaxation massage al fresco with the women that work there. I love massages and although it doesn’t compare to a spa experience, it does has appeal to it for a day at the beach. The women there also offer hair braiding and it’s a cute way to spend part of your time there. Remember that whatever little you spend on these things, they make a big impact for poor families in the area. Huge part of the Dominican Republic’s economy depends on informal business like people who work at the beach on Saona Island and on the streets of La Romama and other towns in DR.
Taking the Saona Island excursion is an amazing experience that I truly recommend if you are staying in San Pedro, La Romana or Punta Cana. Go, have fun, and come back here to tell me all about it!
Let's embrace diversity and create social change! © Dania Santana ~ Embracing Diversity
Multiculturalism, Diversity & Inclusion Expert | Author | Speaker