For those who enjoy an off beaten path beach vacation, or are simply fascinated by the thought of relaxing at an uninhabited paradise, then Catalina Island is the ideal destination to escape to hassle and bustle of tourist traps. From stunning beaches, tropical scenery and vibrant marine ecosystems, here is an absolute guide to visiting Catalina Island, Dominican Republic.
About the Island
Catalina was discovered by Christopher Columbus during one of his voyages to Hispaniola in the 15th century and named it Santa Catalina. Measuring a mere 10 kilometers, Catalina is recognized as a National Park for its diverse marine ecosystems and birds sanctuary. Due to it’s small size only a limited number of visitors are allowed per day, making it a perfect destination to unwind and relax.
If you are travelling on a cruise ship to the Dominican Republic, chances are you’d be making a stop at one of the private beaches on the island. For guests in Punta Cana or Bavaro, there are various boat operators that depart from La Romana (unfortunately you can’t take a boat from Punta Cana as it would take over 6 hours to get there). Most of the Dive Shops in Punta Cana will offer full day excursions to Catalina with roundtrip transportation.
Things to Do
Although small in size, Catalina packs a surprising list of exciting activities above and beneath the surface. Here are some ideas of things to do on the island to inspire your next adventure.
For beach lover, the beaches at Catalina are the epitome of Caribbean Paradise. With tranquil turquoise waters as clear as the summer sky and plenty of palm trees for shade. Playa Grande (Big Beach) on the eastern end is the most exclusive and among the top beaches in the Dominican Republic. It is worth a visit!
Scuba Diving, Snorkeling and SNUBA
Scuba diving in Catalina Island, Dominican Republic a perfect escape from this world (at least for an hour or so). On the east side lies “The Wall,” a majestic wall that extends from the island to the Caribbean Sea. Snorkelers and SNUBA are also able to explore the Wall as the top of the reef is just 15 feet. On the west side of the island lies the “The Aquarium.” True to it’s name, diving here can feel like swimming in a real life aquarium with the abundance of tropical fish at an arms distance. Often times, curious stingrays will rise from their sand bed or an elegant eagle ray will swim by delighting divers with it’s graceful movements. With such an exciting variety of underwater activities to try, Catalina Island is a the perfect day trip for family of all ages.
Bird Watching and Hiking
A Natural Monument of the Dominican Republic, Catalina is a bird sanctuary to various species of native to the Caribbean. On the Eastern end of the Island (near playa grande) you’ll find a hiking trail to explore the natural landscape while bird watching. It is a short easy hike that is great for all levels. At the end of the hike you’ll reach a cliff overlook with incredible panoramic views of the Island.
Pirates and Shipwrecks
For the pirate enthusiasts, a short distance from the island lies the 1700 century Shipwreck Quedagh Merchant from the infamous Captain William Kidd. No ordinary ship, the Quedagh carried a wealth of treasures. Kidd seized the ship and set sail for the Caribbean, eventually being captured and returned to England where he was convicted and hanged for piracy. The whereabouts of the Quedagh Merchant have been a mystery for centuries until 2007. Today the last ship of the scandalous Captain William Kidd has been named a “Living Museum of the Sea” by Indiana University, and the Dominican Republic government.
If you are planning a trip to the Dominican Republic and are in search of the perfect off the beaten path destination, make sure to add the beautiful Catalina Island to your bucket list.