Emily’s Birthday Trip to the Dominican Republic: Part 6 – Isla Saona and Hotel Bayahibe

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Emily: One of my best friends lives in Arlington, Virginia, so I don’t see her very often.  We met in college and have been friends ever since.  The first (and last) time we took a vacation together was to Barcelona, Spain in 2007.
Kristen And Emily On The Catamaran In Bayahibe

I thought it would be super fun to celebrate my 30th birthday with her in the Dominican Republic.  So we planned a trip to 3 locations, including Santo Domingo, Bayahibe, and Bavaro (near Punta Cana) over the course of one week.

Emily’s Birthday Trip to the Dominican Republic Index:
  1. Trip to the Dominican Republic — Introduction and Planning
  2. Santo Domingo Hotel – Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando
  3. Activities in Santo Domingo – Zona Colonial and Latin Dancing
  4. Activities in Santo Domingo – Casa de Orientacion y  Desarrollo Real (CODR)
  5. Eating in Santo Domingo
  6. Bayahibe – Isla Saona and Hotel Bayahibe
  7. Bavaro Hotel – Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
  8. Activities in and Around Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
  9. Eating in and Around Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
  10. Return Delta Flight from Punta Cana
  11. Conclusion and Blog Giveaway


Emily:  I originally booked a rental car, but since I’ve never driven outside the US, my friend Hardy was worried that it would be unsafe for me to drive.  So I cancelled my reservation and instead opted for Hardy and a friend of his to drive us.

The drive was only about ~2 hours from Santo Domingo.

Emily Looking Relaxed After The 2 Hour Drive To Bayahibe

I tested the GPS on my cell phone which did not work.  Driving was a little dangerous, and the roads were not very well marked.  Tour groups come to Bayahibe often, especially from nearby Punta Cana and Bavaro.

Tour Buses Brought Tour Groups From Punta Cana And Bavaro

Once we arrived in Bayahibe, Hardy had a friend which ran catamaran tours, and we went on their boat.

Kristen At The Bayahibe Beach

We paid $26 for our tour, which included free drinks, lunch, and a 6 hour cruise.

The Bayahibe Beach Was So Inviting, We Decided To Take A Catamaran Tour

There are lots of tours available, and you can go around to different ones to see what they offer.  Some feature lobster lunches with quiet, relaxing cruises, and some feature the party environment.  There are also boats that you can charter privately, but they were pretty expensive!

Kristen Outside The Catamaran Tour Company’s Office
Kristen:  The catamaran was a real treat with a delightful breeze, reggae and Latin music, and free beverages.  Hardy, Kristen, and I loved being on the catamaran.

The boat was lots of fun and the weather was perfect.  Isla Saona, part of a protected park, was beautiful!

The Beautiful Isla Saona

The island, while I probably did not step more than a few meters away from the beach, was about as picturesque as it gets with deserted island retreats.

The waves were minimal, but there were some pesky rocks just below the surface in the few parts of the beach I passed through.  There was also some seaweed near the shore, but every few feet it was clear.

The Isla Saona Beach Was Calm
Kristen:  Soon after we arrived on the island, lunch was served.
A Buffet Lunch Was Provided

Lunch wasn’t the tastiest, but the whole trip was only $26, so no complaints! Lunch was a buffet with spaghetti, fish, chicken and beef…

Lunch Options Included Beef, Chicken, And Spaghetti

Dominican veggies…

Assorted Dominican Vegetables Were Included In The Buffet Lunch

and fruit salad.

Kristen Enjoying Lunch On Isla Saona

Emily ate some protein bars in lieu of the risk associated with a reaction to fish.

Emily:  After a couple of hours, we took a speedboat to a “natural swimming pool.”  The pool is a large lagoon with shallow white sand about 4 feet deep.
Kristen On The Speedboat

After wading in the lagoon for about 20 to 30 minutes, we took the 20 minute ride back to the bay to snorkel, which lasted only about 10 minutes.

One of the guides spread white bread throughout the water and soon we were swimming with barracuda, giant schools of small fish, and even a few jellyfish, which kept their distance.

Emily Snorkeling While Surrounded By Barracuda And Giant Schools Of Fish
Kristen:  Right off the bat I saw a few jellyfish, several large schools of fish and quite a bit of healthy coral.  Emily said it was the best snorkeling she’s seen, and she’s been to Thailand and Brazil for snorkeling.  It’s also supposed to be good for scuba diving.
Kristen Getting Ready To Snorkel

Many of the catamaran tours don’t stop for snorkeling, so this was an added treat.

Hotel Bayahibe

We got back to town and checked into our hotel, Hotel Bayahibe.  I paid $60 for a Standard Twin Room which included free internet and breakfast which I booked online.

Here’s a video of our room!

Emily Outside The Hotel Bayahibe

The room was basic, but it was clean and a 3 minute walk to the beach.

The Room Was Pretty Basic

There was a communal living area with artwork

Kristen And Emily Enjoyed The Art Decorated Communal Living Area
…and a view of the beach.
The Hotel Bayahibe Had A Beach View

Captain Kidd

We went to Captain Kidd, a pirate themed Italian restaurant around the corner from the Bayahibe Hotel, for dinner.  I was worried about my fish allergy and the chef assured me a fish-free dinner.  We sat outside by the sea.

Captain Kidd’s Sea-side Seating

There was also indoor seating.  The menu had a good selection of different types of Italian food.

The Menu Offered Lots Of Italian Food

We ordered a margarita pizza…

We Ordered A Margarita Pizza

and a fungi pizza and had melon and pineapple juice.

We Also Ordered A Fungi Pizza

On our way out, we couldn’t resist a pirate themed picture.

Kristen Makes A Great Pirate!

The next morning, we had a wonderful (free) breakfast at Restaurant Dona Clara, which was right beside the sea.

The Hotel’s Restaurante Dona Clara Was Next To The Sea

We sat on the restaurant’s outdoor seating.

Restaurante Dona Clara’s Sea-side Outdoor Seating

We were given a menu from which we could choose what we wanted.

We Could Order Whatever We Wanted From The Menu

We had fresh fruit…

Kristen Enjoying Fresh Fruit At Breakfast

toast, and omelets served with mashed potatoes and sausage.

Breakfast Included An Omelet With Mashed Potatoes And Sausage

The highlight was the freshly made coffee that was velvety smooth.  We asked what kind it was and found out it was Café de Santo Domingo.

Besides the tours, there is not much to do in Bayahibe.  So, we went to Bavaro (near Punta Cana) for our resort stay.

We took a cab directly from the hotel to our resort, but we could have taken a taxi to the bus station for around 5 dollars, the bus from La Romana to Bavaro, and then from Bavaro to the hotel.

We would have saved about $50 by taking the bus, but I was concerned about losing precious time (that route would have taken 2-2.5 hours), and we had our luggage with us.  Taking the cab was still cheaper than a car rental.

The Cab From The Hotel To The Resort Cost $50

I tested the GPS on my phone to see if it worked, but it didn’t.

My Phone’s GPS Didn’t Work

The taxi ride was only 1 hour to our resort, Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe.

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