Cayo Arena is a beautiful sandbar 10 kilometers into the middle of the Atlantic off the coast of Punta Rucia . It’s often called Paradise Island by tour guides, and it is easy to understand why. Ultra-white sand gently slopes into the mind-bendingly clear turquoise water, where snorkeling is good due to coral reefs making a home for schools of fish that could quite possibly eat out of your hand. It is difficult to say how big the “island” is because it shrinks and expands depending on the season and the ocean’s currents.
On the island there are small food shacks and that’s it—there is no room for anything else. In fact, tour operators have to alternate times to be there in order to have enough space on the island for their guests. If you’re an independent traveler and you speak Spanish, ask around Punta Rucia or talk with the fishermen to see if anyone else can take you.
Getting to Cayo Arena takes a 45-minute boat ride over choppy waters, making it not suitable for small children. Booking a trip to Cayo Arena is easy through most all-inclusive hotels along the northern shore and even into the Samaná Península . Consider, though, that travel time takes a large portion of the day.
Typically, an excursion to Cayo Arena allows about 2.5 hours on the actual “island”; on the way back, depending on how far you have to travel, you may be shown the area’s coastal mangroves as part of the package deal. Consult your hotel excursion desk for details.