Dominican Republic // The lesser-known southern coastline
Last year we moved to the Dominican Republic for 3 months. We worked and lived mainly in hectic Santo Domingo (check out the best highlights!), but during the weekends we made the most of our time and headed for adventure across this beautiful island!
Of course I could go on describing how perfect the paradise beaches are around Punta Cana and Puerto Plata (and they really are!), but I think everyone is well aware of this :)
So first let me tell you something about the lesser-known parts of the Dominican Republic. When visiting the DR, you should definitely explore the southern coastline. This area, especially the Pedernales Peninsula (see map), is far less visited and therefore much more rustic and pristine than the northeastern coastline with its shoulder to shoulder luxury resorts.
We rented some wheels and drove west from Santo Domingo to Barahona, the main city of the Pedernales Peninsula. The drive takes about 3 hours and you’ll discover a whole new scenery of the Dominican Republic.
This part of the island is much drier and deserted, with dusty but colourful little villages sprinkled along the way. Everywhere you’re greeted with big smiles and curious faces, and occasionally loud cumbia music blasting through the stereos.
The colour of the sea around the peninsula is a kind of fluorescent blue you will rarely see in your life. At some points it seems almost as though it is lit from below, crazy! This extraordinary colour and the impressive surroundings will definitely blow you away!
Also, there’s a beach that can rival with the famous Pig Beach in the Bahamas, near Barahona you can enjoy the company of cows on the beach! Especially the calves are a very lively bunch, so watch out for the sand dust :)
Jaragua National Park
From Barahona you can take an exceptionally scenic route curling along the coastline further down south to Jaragua National Park. As you’re driving you’ll pass several little towns and makeshift shops, almost every single one of them selling raw or cut larimar stones. This rare blue stone can only be found in the Dominican Republic, and the biggest mines are located on the Pedernales peninsula.
Making our way down the peninsula we visited the Jaragua National Park, including the huge salty Oviedo Lake. This is an excellent place for birdwatching, and in case you forgot your binoculars, flamingos aren’t that difficult to spot :)
If you’re lucky you might even spot sea turtles coming to lay their eggs (April – August)! You can book a boat tour at the visitors center, or you can ask the guide to join you in your car and show you around (the cheaper option).
Other must-sees on the Pedernales Peninsula include:
- Bahía de Las Águilas – 8 km of picture perfect beach
- Cachóte – The heart of the Caribbean cloud forest
- Sierra de Bahoruco National Park – Explore the immense biodiversity of this UNESCO protected Mountain range
- Los Patos – Get soaked in this fresh water lagoon
- Larimar mines – Dig out your own personal souvenir
- Hop over to Haiti!