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  • Writer's pictureNaureen Chhipa

Cayo Arena- Dominican Republic's Paradise Island

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

We're taking a day trip to the iconic islet of Cayo Arena, also known as Paradise Island or Cayo Paraiso. Cayo Arena is a tiny island in the middle of the ocean- and I think it's the smallest island we have yet to visit during our travels. The island is about 2,000 square feet total! That's it, you guys, 2,000 square feet!! Join us on this exciting Caribbean adventure to explore perhaps the smallest island in the Dominican Republic.

Best Island in Dominican Republic, Paradise Island.
Cayo Arena, Dominican Republic.

Cayo Arena is located northwest of the Dominican Republic, off the coast of Puerto Plata in Punta Rucia near Monte Cristi. You can access this island from almost anywhere in the Dominican Republic, but the shortest day trips come from Punta Rucia, Puerto Plata, Monte Cristi, and Cabarete. Cayo Arena is one of the most popular places in the Dominican Republic. Nicknamed Paradise Island, this tiny islet offers the clearest water in the Dominican Republic for snorkeling and is known to be an excellent diving place for beginner levels.

Table of Contents

Getting to Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

Where to Stay in Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

Things to do in Cayo Arena (Paradise Island) and Nearby

Getting to Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

Punta Rucia to Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

Punta Rucia is an off-the-beaten-path small fishing village on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, not often visited by tourists. Unconsumed by big all-inclusive chain hotels, Punta Rucia remains a remote destination boasting pure white sand beaches set against a landscape of the most beautiful and picturesque mountains. The fastest and easiest way of visiting Cayo Arena is with a half-day trip from Punta Rucia. Therefore, we recommend stopping in Punta Rucia to visit Cayo Arena. We stayed at Punta Rucia Lodge for two nights and loved our time there. We took a private speed boat from the dock at Punta Rucia Lodge in Punta Rucia, and our total travel time was only 20 min.

Puerto Plata to Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

To get from Puerto Plata to Cayo Arena, you have two options. You can rent a car and drive to Punta Rucia (approximately a 2hr drive) and take a speed boat from there (about 20 min,) or you can book a day trip directly from Puerto Plata. I recommend a day trip if you don't want to drive in the Dominican Republic or if your time is limited. A day trip from Puerto Plata to Cayo Arena will take about 10 hrs, including pick-up and drop-off from your hotel, lunch, and a tour guide. I highly recommend booking your day trip to Cayo Arena with Sun Sand Spirit DR; they offer excursions throughout the Dominican Republic, including yoga retreats and boutique hotel accommodations.

Cabarete to Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

To get from Cabarete to Cayo Arena, I would recommend driving. You can rent a car and go to Punta Rucia (approximately a 2hr 40min drive,) stay overnight and take a speed boat from there the following day (about 20 min.) Something to note is that the roads between Cabarete to Punta Rucia are not as well developed as in other parts of the country. I recommend renting a jeep. We made this drive with a low car, all the speed bumps and street holes had us driving at 5 mph- I'm not exaggerating here! Do yourself a favor and pay a little extra for that jeep; you'll thank me later!

Santo Domingo to Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

To get from Santo Domingo to Cayo Arena, I recommend driving. It'll be a long drive (approximately 4 hrs,) so stay overnight and take a speed boat from there the following day (about 20 min) to Cayo Arena.

Punta Cana to Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

If you're staying in Punta Cana, chances are you don't have a car and are looking for a day trip. Traveling from Punta Cana to Punta Rucia and then to the little island of Cayo Arena will take you about 7 hrs- and that's if you're not traveling with a large group/tour making frequent stops. I highly recommend heading on a day trip to Isla Saona instead and swimming with starfish. Suppose you've already been to Isla Saona (Saona Island) and are keen on visiting the islet of Cayo Arena. In that case, I recommend allowing 3 days to travel to Punta Rucia, relax, and visit Cayo Arena in a short half-day trip from Punta Rucia.

Where to Stay in Cayo Arena/Paradise Island

As you can imagine, lodging on the tiny island of Cayo Arena is not possible due to its size. If you want to visit this island, which I think is a must when visiting the Dominican Republic, we recommend staying at Punta Rucia Lodge. Punta Rucia Lodge is in the fishing village of Punta Rucia, so day-tripping to Cayo Arena will be a breeze! You can take a speed boat right from the boardwalk at Punta Rucia Lodge to Cayo Arena; Cayo Arena is only a 20 min boat ride away. Read my blog on Punta Rucia Lodge or Watch my Youtube Video down below.

Punta Rucia Lodge and Cayo Arena (Paradise Island) Day Trip

Things to do in Cayo Arena (Paradise Island) and Nearby

  • Cruise the open Caribbean Sea on a speed boat or catamaran.

  • Marvel in awe at the scenic landscape set against the shallow turquoise Sea.

  • Encounter wild pelicans in the middle of the Ocean.

  • Sunbathe on a remote Islet surrounded by Ocean blue Caribbean water.

  • Snorkel away and mingle with the diverse Sea life.

  • Enjoy a minimalistic setting on the best Island in the Dominican Republic.

  • Take a dip in the clear waters of paradise and see all the tropical fish.

  • Bring your lunch and have an epic beach picnic.

  • Visit the endangered Dominican mangroves.

  • Learn how to dive; the waters at Cayo Arena are perfect for beginner divers.

  • Swim in the clear waters of Las Piscinas Naturales nearby.

  • Have an authentic local Dominican lunch at the end of your tour.

Cayo Arena (Paradise Island/Cayo Paraiso) Day Trip

This experience was beyond epic. The Dominican Republic has some of the best beaches in the world! The water is so clear, with deep hues of blues and greens. Adding Punta Rucia as part of our road trip was worth the extra time, to get and see all this natural beauty!

Best Beach Island in Dominican Republic.
Cayo Arena | Paradise Island | Cayo Paraiso | Dominican Republic

I want to remind you that this is an open islet, so bringing sun protection with you is imperative. There are about four human-made huts on this tiny Island, but this beach is trendy and tends to get crowded past noon, so I recommend coming prepared.

Dominican Republic Islands; Paradise Island
Cayo Arena (Paradise Island/Cayo Paraiso) Day Trip

What are your thoughts? Would you visit this tiny Island? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading! Till next time!

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Places to visit in Dominican Republic, Cayo Arena.

Islands near Dominican Republic, Paradise Island.

More Islands near Dominican Republic

Isla Saona

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