Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic – what to see and how to visit

Catalina Island covers an area of ​​only 10 km2, but despite such a modest size, it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic. The island with its silk beaches, clear water and palm groves is more like a postcard with picturesque views of the island of Bounty. Local authorities protect the natural beauties of Catalina, therefore, today the island has the status of a national park. And here are the best conditions for diving and snorkeling in the entire Dominican Republic. If you are intrigued by this place, we offer a sightseeing tour of the island of Catalina.

Catalina Beach View

Photo: Catalina Island, Dominican Republic

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general information

Catalina is often called a lost paradise, because the island is uninhabited, which allows travelers to feel like Robins Crusoe or the owners of their own beach. Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic, of course, is inferior to Saone in popularity, respectively, vacationers are much less and there is an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful and nature and even find a secluded corner to take vivid photographs.

If among the reviews you see the expression “paradise for divers in the Dominican Republic,” be sure – this is about Catalina. Firstly, the water on the coast is so clear that visibility reaches 30 meters. Secondly, almost from the beach into the distance and in depth the slope leaves, which over the years has been covered by the coral kingdom. Although tourists who have visited Egypt claim that diving and snorkeling on the island of Catalina is inferior in entertainment to the underwater world in Egypt. However, the Dominican Republic also has something to see. The most famous Catalina dive site – the “wall” of Muro – is a slope extending 100 m deep, it has two steps – 25 m and 40 m.

Diving on the island of Catalina

This small piece of picturesque nature is located in the southeast of the Dominican Republic, 2 km from La Romana. The shape of the island resembles a triangle.

Good to know! The best place for a beach holiday on the island of Catalina is the west coast, there is a clean coast, established tourist infrastructure.

Access to the island is possible thanks to Christopher Columbus, who in the 15th century discovered Catalina in the Dominican Republic. It is noteworthy that the island is one of the few places on earth that is officially recognized as uninhabited. Several people constantly live here – these are border guards who serve.

Good to know! The easiest way to get to Catalina island is as part of an excursion group from La Romana. The return route is laid along the Chavon River, through the dense jungle, past the world’s largest cigar factory.

La Romana has an airport of international importance, but it does not accept flights from all countries of the world. But in Punta Cana you can fly without problems. Car transfers are organized between Punta Cana and La Romana, and you will have to spend about 40 minutes on the road. But from La Romana to the island of Catalina comfortable liners ply.

La Romana Airport
La Romana Airport

Why you should visit Catalina island

There are no hotels, bungalows and other places to stay on the island, so travelers come here for half a day as part of excursion groups. As part of such a tourist trip, vacationers are engaged in diving, swimming in a mask, courageous and courageous jumping from a cliff, and lovers of peace – just lie on the beach, sunbathe and swim. A must-have item in the entertainment program is banana riding.

Holidays with children on the island of Catalina are very welcome. For this, all the necessary conditions are here – fine sand, clear water, lack of currents and excellent weather all year round.

Beach

You can get to the beach of Catalina island only by water, on a comfortable airliner or on a catamaran as part of an excursion group. All excursions depart from La Romana. During a trip by sea they offer drinks, snacks, and an entertainment program. Animators will learn incendiary Dominican dances with you. A stop is provided at the coral reef for diving.

Important! Mask and flippers give out to those who wish to admire the marine inhabitants. Some travelers recommend taking equipment with them, as masks from travel agencies are not always of good quality.

Beach on the island of Catalina

After swimming, water transport approaches the shore. The island is of coral origin, so on the shore you can see parts of the reef that emerged to the surface. Palm trees, which form a natural shadow, give comfort to rest. On the shore there are sun loungers, hammocks, gazebos, a bar serving cocktails and real Dominican beer.

As a rule, the tour is designed for 4 hours, during which time treats are prepared for travelers. Vacationers independently manage their free time – they sunbathe, swim, play volleyball. Those wishing to go diving, go to another part of the island in boats.

Snorkeling and diving

Off the coast of the island of Catalina in the Dominican Republic you can find lobsters and crabs, stingrays and lionfish. Diving is available for tourists with any level of training – experienced divers and beginners. The island is one of the three best diving sites in the world.

For beginners, Drop Wall is recommended – a steep wall along which they plunge to a depth of 4 m to 40 m. It is noteworthy that the fish here are not at all afraid of tourists.

The underwater world of Catalina

Another great place to dive is the Aquarium dive site. Here you can see the abundance of marine life.

Important! Fishing on Catalina island is prohibited, only deep sea hunting.

Spearfishing

The main treat on Catalina is lobsters. They are served with white wine. Tourists can catch lunch on their own – spearfishing is available for vacationers. In addition to lobsters, you can catch red mullet, yellowtail, pargo fish, guatapana, mackerel or horse mackerel. The catch is prepared right on the shore. Even if you are not lucky with the catch, a delicious fresh seafood treat will be prepared for you in the bar.

Off the coast of Catalina island, it is guaranteed that you can see large fish, for example, sea bass. More recently, large fish populations in this part of the Dominican Republic were almost destroyed due to regular hunting, which was carried away and continues to be carried away by tourists. The country’s authorities decided to rectify this situation and today the number of fish in the sea is almost restored. But the coral gardens here are bright and dense. Divers are constantly accompanied by flocks of fluorescent fish.

Kidd Pirate Underwater Museum
Kidd Pirate Underwater Museum

Perhaps the most interesting attraction of Catalina Island is the Kidd Pirate Museum. It exists since 2011 and is very different from all existing museums. First of all, that which is on the seabed and is a ship, which in the past was owned and operated by the most cruel and greedy pirate William Kidd. Rumor has it that it was here that the corsair hid the looted gold and treasures, but they have not been able to find them to this day. Another amazing feature of the museum is that it is called living. The fact is that over the years of staying on the seabed, the ship has become a refuge and home to numerous inhabitants of the sea. If you want to visit the museum at sea, you will find not only a fascinating dive, but also a spectacular theatrical performance during a trip from the coast to the place of the sunken ship. The plot of the show is dedicated to the last battle of the pirate,

Some interesting facts:

  • the name of the pirate ship “Quedag Merchant”;
  • the ship carried about 45 thousand pounds;
  • the surviving parts of the vessel – a wooden skeleton, several anchors, several dozen guns;
  • the ship is located at a distance of 3 m from the coast and at a depth of 20 m;
  • in addition to the Quedag Merchant, tourists can see another Guadeloupe ship that sank in 1724.

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Flora, fauna, surrounding landscapes
Nature on the island of Catalina

Since the intervention of people in the nature of the island is minimal, exotic plants and animals have been preserved here, but still the main purpose of the trip is a beach holiday. The return trip to La Romana passes through the picturesque village of artists Altos de Chavon. Back in 1976, craftsmen built in a secluded place near La Roman a village, stylized as a typical settlement in Spain. Today, this village is well known to tourists, is in demand, therefore, travel agencies include a visit to this place in the program.

In local workshops you can master any kind of art. Artisans still live in the village, and their works – hand-painted shawls, pottery, tapestries, wrought-iron decor elements, and jewelry can be purchased at the souvenir shop.

And in Altos de Chavon there are:

  • exhibition halls;
  • galleries
  • amphitheater;
  • taverns;
  • Church of St. Stanislav – it was consecrated by the name of the patron saint of Poland in order to please the pontiff John Pal II, a Pole by birth.

The village has the Archaeological Museum, which presents the history of the Indians who lived on Catalina before the advent of the Spaniards.

Tours

Excursions to the island of Catalina are best booked in advance; there are many agencies on the Internet that organize trips to the island from La Romana. The hotels also have representatives of excursion companies from whom you can purchase a trip. The cost of the tour depends on several factors – the duration of the trip, the program. The average adult price is $ 75, if you go to the island all day, you have to pay about $ 120. The cost of the excursion from Punta Cana is from $ 540 to $ 1400.

Boat near the island of Catalina

The program usually includes the following:

  • transfer from the hotel to the marina from which the boat or catamaran leaves;
  • Inspection of beautiful landscapes and natural attractions;
  • lunch consisting of seafood;
  • entertainments organized and organized by animators for you.

Tours begin at 9-30 – 10-00, already by 10-30 transport arrives at the first point of the route – the dive site, the available depth is from 5 m to 40 m. Tourists have about one hour to dive. The group is accompanied by divers who are ready to help beginners.

At about 11-30, transport arrives at the beach or at the second dive site, depending on the excursion program.

By 13-00 the cook on the island of Catalina will prepare a hearty and tasty lunch for a group of tourists. After lunch, tourists enjoy free time for a leisurely, relaxed vacation. The bar, where cocktails are prepared, will complement the atmosphere of relaxation.

Boat lunch

Departure on the way back at 15-15 and already at 16-00 tourists arrive in La Romana.

This is a classic excursion program. You can also purchase trips, during which guests visit:

  • Bayahibe village;
  • millionaire village;
  • Altos de Chavon settlement and its attractions: the church of St. Stanislav, the amphitheater and the Archaeological Museum.

Interesting fact! If you are traveling with friends, rent a yacht for up to 10 people. The cost of such a comfortable trip is $ 1400.

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Useful Tips

  1. Trips to the island are carried out by speedboats or slower catamarans. In the first case, the trip will be faster, but may cause discomfort. In the second case, you will reach the island with great comfort, but it will take more time.
  2. Waterproof package
  3. Take your documents with you – passport, insurance, think over the packaging so that they do not get wet.
  4. Wear swimming clothing immediately at the hotel.
  5. Be sure to bring along a sunblock with maximum protection, drinking water, a towel and, of course, a camera.

Catalina island is included in the list of objects that are under the protection of UNESCO, since its entire territory is a national natural park. Undoubtedly, this tourist place is worth a visit if you flew to the Dominican Republic.

Excursion to the island of Catalina, comparison with the island of Saona:



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Catalina Island