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Finding Your Own Personal Slice of Heaven on Cayo Paraiso

When Paradise is in the name, you simply must take a boat to this tiny remote island protected by a barrier reef.

April 13, 2021
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An aerial view of an island in the Caribbean.
What else do you name a small island surrounded by beautiful water and colorful marine life except Paradise? Wes Morton

Off the north coast of the Dominican town of Punta Rucia lies Paradise Island. The coral islet is hidden away in the middle of the Caribbean and only accessible by boat. Perched on top of a natural reef with pillow-soft porcelain sands, Paradise Island embodies every aspect of its name.

Known locally as Cayo Paraiso, the island itself is about 30 meters long and 10 across at low tide, and almost completely submerged at high tide. The reef that surrounds it acts as a natural barrier, keeping larger ocean tides at bay, protecting the island from erosion, and providing shelter for shoals of colorful fish. Thatched cabanas sit in the middle of the island, nimble speed boats shepherd adventure seeking visitors, and teal waters lap the edges of this tiny paradise.

Getting to Paradise Island

A small hut on the beach of the island Cayo Paraiso.
Head to Punta Rucia to find a boat that will take you to Cayo Paraiso. Wes Morton

The boats set off from Punta Rucia, a charming, single-road fishing town. Consider arriving the night before and having a local dinner on the beach, so you can depart first thing in the morning. Dining and accommodations are severely limited, but the tiny town offers the perfect opportunity to hang out like the Dominican do, playing dominoes and drinking beers on the beach.

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Most hotels or tour guides can set you up with a local guide who will double as your boat captain. A personal speed boat is the preferred method as you receive your own skipper for only 1,000 Dominican Pesos per person for the day. The other option is a more crowded and expensive tour, albeit on a bigger boat.

Ask for snorkel gear or bring your own to explore underwater. Bring your own drinks, trash bags, water, supplies, and use the bathroom beforehand. We recommend leaving between 7 and 8 AM to avoid crowds.

The sprawling ocean of the Caribbean.
The natural swimming pool is perfect for a quick dip before arriving at Paradise. Wes Morton

The bay waters are mostly flat but do get choppy as you enter open ocean. The waters off Punta Rucia go from crystal to teal to deep blue depending on the depth. Life vests are provided and Dramamine is recommended for those prone to seasickness.

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The first stop is a natural swimming pool that is also a product of a natural reef. Take a dip and peak over the edge of the reef cliff into the deep ocean if you dare.

Enjoy Your Own Sliver of Paradise

A small boat sailing towards an island.
Upon arrival, get some sun, relax in a cabana, take a dip in the surrounding waters, or enjoy all of the above. Wes Morton

Climb back into the boat. Next stop Paradise. The island will appear on the horizon, a white sliver of sand framed between the blues of the sea and sky. Breathe in the salty air as your boat approaches this surreal, natural gem. The captain will navigate around the reefs to enter the shallow pool that surrounds the stretch of sand that comprises the entire island. For an adventurous landing, a smaller speed boat will power from the water to beach itself on the island.

Once on the island, lay claim to one of the tiny cabanas that line the center. The rest is up to you. Enjoy lounging in the waist-deep, teal pool surrounding the island. Swim out to the reef to mingle with the tropical fish that live in the shallows. Nap in sand so fine that it forms a natural bed. Stand with your toes in the sand, your face to the sun, and pinch yourself.

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Arriving early will allow you to enjoy the entire island yourself. The larger boats and tours arrive around 10:30 or 11 AM. Be sure to collect all trash and belongings to keep the island clean for the next paradise seeker. Stay longer if you like or hop back into your boat to explore mangrove forests or head back to Punta Rucia.

However long your stay, you won’t forget your moment in Paradise.

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