Barahona is located in the southwest corner of the Dominican Republic, and, according to the Moon travel guide, it is the least developed area of the country for tourism. However, at only a 3-4 hour drive, it is the closest area of the DR to Port-au-Prince, and it’s a great place to spend Christmas.
Folks do not spend their time in the crowded city of Barahona but rather 30+ minutes down the road in one of the many little cities that dot the beautiful coastline. We spent all of our time south and west of Barahona along the coast. The Barahona-Enriquillo Coastal Highway is a long, beautiful drive along the coast and through little fishing towns, with perfect shores on one side and a stunning mountain range on the other, and is DR’s response to California’s famed Highway 1 that wriggles along its own coastline.
If you find yourself driving around in Barahona Province and are tired of the beach, check out Polo! Polo is a coffee town in the mountains not far from Barahona city (maybe an hour or two?). We were not able to visit because everything was shut down on Christmas day when we returned back to Port-au-Prince, but they have an annual coffee festival–which is good enough reason for me to skip the beach altogether and head straight for the mountains.
Barahona is also the jumping off point for Bahia de las Aguilas, a stunning, 8-km long white sand beach. We recommend booking a tour to get here. You need to take a 15-20 minute boat ride to get here from a small fishing port. The dirt road from the highway to the little fishing port is sometimes deep sand and the prices for the boat ferries are extortionate. If you do insist on going alone, bring lots of cash as there are no ATMs and make sure you bring an umbrella because the beach has no shade.
Getting There: From Haiti, cross the border at Jimaní, then turn right at the Barahona turn-off. From there you can hit top speed with no traffic or potholes to slow you down. There are minimal towns and villages between Jimaní and Barahona. When you get to the city, make your way through to the malecon and turn right to head southwest–this is the highway you want to be on. The main tourist attraction in the province is Bahia de las Águilas, which boasts 5 miles of picture-perfect, powder-white sand, considered by many to be DR’s best beach. It takes 2-4 hours of delightful coastal driving from Barahona and though the roads to the jumping off point of La Cueva are poorly maintained and the boat ride is expensive (US$50 for 4 adults and 4 children, but you can negotiate a little), it is a must-see destination if you find yourself in this little corner of the country.
Pro Tip: Air BnB! Skip the hotels and find yourself an Air BnB on the coast. They’re cheaper and you can score an entire condo with WiFi and mosquito nets and fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the ocean.