Saona Island - Go, but take it with a pinch of salt
The thing is in the Dominican the coastline/ beaches are a premium, mostly absorbed by the resorts and hotels, meaning it's impossible to drive through the coast and it's very hard to reach any public beaches. The ones you can get to are small and not the idyllic palm tree-blue water postcard image we all envisage.
However, we are explorers and in order to learn all this we had to try it first. So we decided to hire a car (expensive - about $95/day for an economic at the hotel), drive to Bayahiba and catch a boat from there (1500pesos or $32 dollars each) rather than go on a tour/excursion (which cost about €100 each but is all inclusive of travel, drinks, food and premium sights). The boat trip itself was an adventure with the forecast rain looming and the sea waving it in. When you go on a small local boat ( max 8 people) it will go fast and it will ride those waves high only to hit the water hard - definitely not advisable to anyone with injuries.
The boat, like any other tour, will stop at the 'natural pool' where you can go for a swim/ snorkel (again equipment would have been included on an excursion). The waters are crystal clear and the view is breathtaking, unspoilt, almost virgin land ashore. We certainly recommend this even if just for a perfect selfie in the Caribbean sea. From there you'll go straight to the island, stopping where other local boats stop rather than where catamarans go.
On approach it looks idyllic, but on arrival something is just slightly off. Yes there are beach stretchers, and 'local' craft shops and men selling fresh coconuts, but you'll struggle to find a stretch of beach you can swim in, it's full of algae, coral, some rubbish. So we walked for a while, trying to find those beaches we saw pictured on all tours, with no luck. We still made the best of it, went snorkelling (with shoes on - this is of upmost importance because of the coral and sea urchins), took loads of pics and ate delicious grilled chicken at one of the local street food spots (priced for tourists at $13 dollars per portion including side and salad, but portion was quite big).
We don't really need postcard perfect, and we are aware that the rain spoilt it a bit but we would have liked to peek those beaches where the tours went to. Maybe next time... Therefore, if you find yourself in the Dominican, at least in the South East area of La Romana/ San Pedro de Macoris, forget exploring. Go on an organised tour that will take you to the best, albeit touristic, places and all will be included like food and rum! Not only will this end up being the cheaper option, you will also get those postcard worthy pictures and avoid a slight disappointment with the experience.