Why choose Barahona?|
The DR's tourist destination with the greatest biodiversity, the
Barahona-Pedernales area of the country is the final frontier for local tourism
development. These days, domestic travelers and international nature
connoisseurs are the most frequent visitors. The striking natural attractions of
this region are incomparable. It boasts the largest lake in the Caribbean, a
spectacular panoramic highway with vistas along the coast, a mountain parador
that overlooks a remarkable chasm, scorchingly hot, dry forests that lie not far
from cooler highland pine tree forests, as well as being one of the most
significant fruit-producing areas in the country.
What else is nearby?
Popular stops on the way to Barahona or back to Santo Domingo are Baní and San
Cristóbal. Stop over in Baní to purchase Dominican sweets on the highway, visit
the museum of Cuban national hero Máximo Gómez, or the Salinas dunes and
windsurfing area. San Cristóbal is home to the Pomier Caves, the most important
in the Caribbean.
Port of entry/How to get there?
Small private planes or chartered flights into the city's Maria Montez
International Airport are available but people generally travel to Barahona by
land. It is an approximate three-hour drive from Santo Domingo, the capital
city, mainly along a very good highway.
- Las Caritas. This archaeological site is located on the north side of
Enriquillo Lake. If you drive past on a weekend, there may be tour buses or cars
parked on the road to indicate the site of the carvings in the rocks on the side
of the cliff. There is a trail that leads to smiling and sad faces etched into
history. Visitors to the Enriquillo Lake area should stock up on water, as this
is an area of extreme high temperatures and strong sunlight, even by Caribbean
- Enriquillo Lake. The largest in the Caribbean, this lake covers an area of
approximately 102 square miles (265 square kilometers). The lake also marks the
Caribbean's lowest point, a remarkable 40 meters below sea level. The name
Enriquillo honors the first successful insurgent against the Spanish
conquistadors. The high salt content of this inland phenomenon has created a
barren, seemingly lifeless environment that is inhospitable to humans, but ideal
for the basking American crocodiles, friendly iguanas and graceful pink
A trip around Lake Enriquillo all the way to Jimaní (on the Dominican border
with Haiti) and then returning back eastbound on the southside will bring
travelers past the impressive salt and gypsum mines at La Salina. Start out
early and set aside a full day for touring the lake and its environs.
- Cabritos Island. Visitors to Enriquillo Lake have the option of visiting this
7.5-mile (12-kilometer) islet that is home to hundreds of reptiles. Arrive early
in the day to book the seven-kilometer tour to Cabritos and view the iguanas,
crocodiles and flamingos before the blazing sun takes over. The guides will
ensure that the crocodiles come close enough to your boat for you to peer into
their eyes. Expect the excursion to take at least two hours, including a quick
hike across the island.
- Polo and the Magnetic Hill. Cool off on the way back to the city of Barahona
by heading south on the Cabral-Polo Panoramic Highway. Sightseers will marvel at
its Polo Magnético, where parked cars seem to travel backwards up the hill on
their own without any human assistance. Polo is located amid the forests of the
Bahoruco mountain range, home to some of the country's best coffee plantations.
- Barahona. The region's main city and provincial capital, Barahona is a port
situated at the end of a magnificent horseshoe-shaped bay that is framed by
rugged mountains. Because of its salt and gypsum mines and numerous discos,
Barahona is known as the town “that works hard and plays hard.”
- Barahona-Enriquillo Coastal Highway. This is perhaps the most splendidly
scenic highway in the Caribbean, exceptional in its views of a multi-colored
sea, untamed stretches of dense forest, sparkling rivers and towering green
mountains. Visitors to this area are few and the simple ways of traditional
village life may be glimpsed along the route. Wave to the residents and they
will smilingly wave back. It's a lush landscape of brilliant greens,
complemented by millions of graceful yellow butterflies and the melodies of
- Jaragua National Park. Named in honor of an Indian chieftain, this park
extends over 854 square miles (1,374 square kilometers) and includes several
miles of some of the best Caribbean beaches, as well as the small islands of
Alto Velo and Beata. This area is reached after the town of Enriquillo, when the
highway takes a gradual turn to the west as it goes inland. Discover the
ecological marvels this park has to offer by journeying a little further into
the country's southwestern corner to the province of Pedernales. One of the
Caribbean's best areas for bird-watching is found here at the Oviedo Lagoon.
- Pelempito Drop (Hoyo de Pelempito). Marvel at how flowering cacti and dry
forests along the highway from Oviedo to Pedernales are replaced in less than
half an hour with tropical pine forests when turning north inland into the
Bahoruco Mountain Range, with its heights of more than 6,500 feet (2,000+
meters). The rest stop built by the government is situated at a height of 3,845
feet (1,165 meters) with an observatory that features several mountain trails.
The natural depression, bordered by heights of up to 5,940 feet (1,800 meters),
entails a 2,300-foot (700-meters) drop. Temperatures here range from 32°F (0°C)
in the morning to 77°F or 25°C at noon.
- Bahia de las Aguilas. Accessed primarily by boat or by jetting down an angular
road aboard a rugged 4 SUV vehicle, this area is in striking contrast to the
abundant greenery of the Bahoruco Mountain Range although both are located
within the same Jaragua National Park. The protected beach of Bahia de las
Aguilas dazzles visitors with its crystal-clear waters. There are no palm trees
on these white sands, where turtles nestle by limpid waters and a dry forest,
showcasing the flora and fauna that existed even before the Spanish settlers
arrived. It is part of the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve that
was added to UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves in November 2002.
- Pedernales. This small provincial town has only the most basic accommodations,
but its small restaurants serve freshly-caught lobsters.
Beaches along the Barahona-Enriquillo coastal highway include the pebble beaches
of Quemaito and San Rafael, with its natural pools that are filled by a tumbling
mountain spring. Next is Paraiso, an aptly named “paradise” of intense turquoise
waters in a calm and crystalline bay. There are spectacular views to be had upon
approaching the small town of Enriquillo and its rough-watered beach, where a
small cemetery overlooks three shades of blue seawater. Cabo Rojo is a lovely
white-sanded beach en-route to Pedernales, just one kilometer before Bahía de
The city of Barahona is the provincial capital and along with Azua and Bani is
one of the main urban centers in the southwest region. Barahona has a population
Guided bird watching expedition packages are available. One such company
offering these is www.todytours.com
Contact: [email protected] Tel. (809)
There are also a number of tour operators providing tours to both Lago
Enriquillo and Bahia de las Aguilas.
Small hotels readily abound and are easily accessible from this highway that
heads south from the city of Barahona. Check out Villa Miriam, a private home
that charges a small fee for admission to its pools set amidst river cascades
and lush vegetation beween San Rafael and Paraiso.
Restaurants and nightlife outside the hotel
Given the active nature of this destination, not much should be expected from
the night time activities that are limited to the discos that play Latin and
Dominican music and the beer bars in the cities of Barahona and Pedernales. The
larger hotels may offer some entertainment, but for the most part restaurant
dining and quiet mingling to restore forces for the next day are in order.
While Barahona is a busy city, it has yet to awaken to the tourist trade, and
thus its shops still primarily only cater to local needs.
The sea off the coast of Pedernales is considered one of the best scuba-diving
sites in the Caribbean.