SAONA: A magnificent island in the heart of a national park

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Viva Wyndham Resorts

Christened Saona in 1494, the former Adamanay is a singular island in the Caribbean Sea. Once property of the Tainos, it later came to be discovered by an acquaintance of Christopher Columbus who came from Savona. Centuries later, it remains a marvel

Not far from the northeast coast of the present-day Dominican Republic, the Adamany islet, measuring 105 square kilometers, was located: karst relief, with caves, sinkholes and 90 kilometers of coastline surrounded by coral reefs, rocky in the north and sandy in the south, with fresh water flowing underground and vast amounts of salt lagoons.

Although inhabited since 2000 B.C, Adamanay experienced the most crucial period of its history around 800 A.C. with the Taino farmers. Ruled by Chief Cotubanama until 1494, when Michele da Cuneo, an acquaintance of Admiral Columbus, received it as a gift. As a native of Savona (an Italian city), he later changed its name to Bella Savonesa. During the 600’s-700’s it became a meeting place for corsairs and, subsequently, repopulated between the decades of 1940-50, the period from which many of the palm trees on the island resonate. Today, a Dominican community inhabits the two towns of Mano Juan and Catuano.

This excursion is sure to never let you forget that Saona is not an island created for the exploitation of international tourism but has an ancestral identity.

Over a hundred of bird species, including pelicans, frigate birds, gulls, pigeons, flamencos, woodpeckers, crows, owls and herons surround the island that covers one quarter of the National Park of the East, created in 1975 and recently changed its name to Cotubanama Park, under the regulation of the Ministry of Environment.

The island has a timeless atmosphere; the houses were rebuilt after the devastation left by Hurricane Georges in 1998, these are colorful wooden houses, with concrete floors and zinc roofs, where fishermen live and whose wives are engaged in the sale of handicrafts. Even today, the island inspires a faraway feeling of bewilderment and gratitude.

Viva Wyndham Resorts has a beach in concession on the island, where it has created a small settlement for the exclusive use of guests who can travel to the island daily aboard motorboats or catamarans. This privilege fully honors the VivaLife philosophy: respect and  care for the environment. The settlement is not encroaching and is only accessible during the day; the island’s ecosystem is preserved and protected.

The boat makes a stop at El Peñón and at the Natural Pools so guests can swim in shallow waters, while gazing at huge starfish.

We will also make a detour at Canto de la Playa, one of the most spectacular stretches of beach on the island, to walk on a powdery beach and swim between the sweet sea waves, and in the community of Mano Juan, with its singular blue houses where 90% of the island’s population lives.

Saona is one of the most beautiful experiences offered at Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach and Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace