The postcard of Saona Island that goes around the world and that motivates excursions to the most visited protected area in the country is attractive and colorful. It is the perfect picture of the beach paradise and belongs to Mano Juan, the fishing village founded in the first years of the 40s of the last century southeast of the largest of the adjacent Dominican islands.
A FISHING VILLAGE.
Twelve families founded Mano Juan in 1944, during the tyranny of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who took them there to serve as sentinels for their resources.
It measures 110 square kilometers (22 long and between 5 and 6 wide). It has about 12 beaches, three lagoons and three caves called Cotubanamá, Hoyo de la Lechuza and Hoyo de Conjuro.
By decree 1311 of September 16, 1975, the island was declared a protected area.
The typical shops were started about 26 years ago.
Only about 3% of tourists who come to the island have the opportunity to visit the village, because there is a group of transport companies and hikers that offer tourism on Saona Island, but do not include a visit to their programs. This has caused that the town is deprived of being one of the points of the East that enjoys the entrance of currencies on the part of the tourist sector.
This condition has prevented not only the tourist development of the village, but also that has limited its educational and social development, to the point that in Mano Juan there is only one school where students attend until the sixth grade of primary school, in addition to they do not have access to basic services such as drinking water, and the electric power comes from a small plant, which is maintained by them.
In spite of the precariousness that Mano Juan faces, this is a town worthy of being visited for its exotic beauty and for its little explored and exploited attractions.
Among the most important, include its caves and springs, which have traces left by the Taino culture. Among these are Anamanai and Gaviota (seagull) Spring.
The habitants of Mano Juan are very friendly and helpful. Anyone who dares to reach this small village will find gift shops, a restaurant, a hotel with 10 rooms and houses with rooms for the accommodation of tourists. These are rented between RD $ 300 and RD $ 400 per night.
Fish is one of the delights of the hand-made gastronomy, but you can also taste dishes based on yautía, yucca, yam, rice and other agricultural products that are produced on the island.
Its beautiful beaches, with blue-green waters, are kept in good condition, because they are constantly cleaned.
Most of the inhabitants of Mano Juan are engaged in fishing, but this activity is currently in decline, so it is impossible to depend on it; tourism could be an alternative to provide income.