Located 19 kilometers (12 miles) south of the mainland, Saona Island’s picture-perfect beaches attract more visitors than all of the country’s national parks combined. A protected site spanning 110km2 (42-square mile) and part of Cotubanamá National Park, Saona is a dream tropical escape, where long stretches of brilliant white sand and their giant coconut trees seem to melt into iridescent turquoise waters. Visitors can take day trips to enjoy the beaches, through a myriad of options ranging from speedboat to catamaran. Riding along Saona’s stunning coastline scenery alone is worthwhile. Most trips leave out of Bayahíbe village, from its small waterfront area. Stops in Saona include a swim at Palmilla, a white stretch with a wide natural pool, and at Mano Juan, the only inhabited portion of the island. Saona Island is also the DR’s most important turtle-nesting site.