Set in a scenic bay, the seaside village of Bayahibe is one of the most popular resorts in the Dominican Republic. Visitors are attracted by the low-key vibe, lovely beaches and the unparalleled scuba and snorkeling opportunities in the nearby Parque del Este national park. Spend your days reveling in the beauty of the area's beaches and coral reefs and your nights eating the daily catch at romantic waterfront restaurants.
Bayahibe was originally settled by Puerto Rican fishermen in the 19th century. Although it remained a sleepy little fishing village for more than a century, it is now a tourist-oriented resort where a slow pace of life endures.
Life revolves around the beach here. Laze on public sands of Playa Bayahibe or sunbathe on the extensive Playa Dominicus south of the town, home to several major tourist resorts. If you visit the latter, look for the striped lighthouse bar, a great spot for a sundowner.
Go to the harbor in the morning and join the crowds waiting to board ferries to Isla Saona. This island, part of the Parque del Este national park, boasts breathtaking beaches, complete with snow-white sand, palms and warm, aqua water. Bars, live music and hawkers add to the lively atmosphere. Find a more peaceful scene on the smaller Isla Catalina, where a coral reef and a shark-frequented dive site lure scuba divers and snorkelers.
For a culture fix, make the journey to Cueva del Puente. Inside the stalagmite and stalactite-adorned interior are cave paintings completed by the island’s early Taíno inhabitants. Further south, the Cueva Peñon Gordo also features pictographs.
To further explore the national park, consider hiring a guide to show you around. The park is vast, spreading out across 120 square miles (310 square kilometers). A fascinating array of species live here, including more than 500 different types of flora, over 100 different bird species and gorgeous sea creatures including bottlenose dolphins and West Indian manatees.
Bayahibe is located on the Dominican Republic’s southeast coast. The nearest airport is La Romana, which is about 20 minutes away by car.