Many thanks to Esther and Carlitos from the Dominican Republic Tourism Board for having invited me to spend a week discovering the country!
Are you looking for the best beach in the Dominican Republic? Stop right here – you’ve found it! Bahía de las Águilas is a remote beach in the southwestern part of the country, away from resorts and nightlife. It was my favourite place from our week-long trip in the Dominican Republic!
If you’re a beach lover, I’m sure spending time on a beach will be right at the top of your Dominican Republic wish list. And let me tell you, when it comes to beaches, the DR truly has a lot to offer.
The popular southeastern coast of the country is known for its long, sandy, palm-fringed beaches. The world-famous Samana Peninsula is more secluded, ideal for honeymooners and lovers of marine wildlife, with excellent whale watching opportunities between December and March.
The northern coast (around Sosua, Cabarete and Puerto Plata) should be the destination of choice for kite surfers, with steady winds and good waves year-round.
Yet, all these destinations have one thing in common – they’re all fairly developed. The southeastern coast, from La Romana to Punta Cana, is one big, long stretch of all-inclusive resorts. The scene around Cabarete and Samana may be more low key, but beaches are still lively places, busy day and night.
Ask any Dominican about their favourite beach in their country, and many of them will reply Bahía de las Aguilas. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not the only one. Bahía de las Águilas is virtually unknown outside the Dominican Republic, as there are no hotels, no resorts, no villages… and barely anyone there.
Not to mention, the beach is absolutely stunning. 7 km of powdery-white sand, with calm, clear aqua-turquoise sea, some trees for shade, and that’s it. I know, ALL the clichés – but trust me, Bahia de las Águilas lives up to its reputation as the best beach in the Dominican Republic!
Bahía de Las Águilas means ‘Bay of Eagles’, and there are two theories related to the origin of the name. According to one, the bay is named after the fact that it looks like an eagle taking flight from above, while the other theory claims that the name derives from the presence of fish eagles and many other bird species, who use the area as a stopover during their migration journey,
How to Reach Bahía de las Águilas
You may be wondering why so few people visit Bahía de las Águilas, if it is indeed so beautiful?
I guess it has probably to do with where it is. Bahía de las Águilas is located in Jaragua National Park, not far from the city of Pedernales and the Haitian border, and over 300 km from Santo Domingo.
Jaragua is the largest marine-terrestrial protected area in the Dominican Republic, and it’s been on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list since 2018. This protected status has saved the beach from over development, since development is restricted.
On top of that, Bahía de las Águilas is 5-6 hours drive from Santo Domingo, via the towns of Azua, Banì and Barahona, all of which see very little tourism.
The drive between Barahona and Bahia de las Aguilas takes over 2.5 hours – or possibly longer, as it’s a stunning, scenic coastal road with views around every other bend. The region is known as Paraiso (meaning ‘heaven’ in Spanish) after a small coastal town, but once you get there, you’ll see that the name is absolutely fitting.
he last 15 or so km through the national park are on an unpaved road, and then you’ll have to hop on a boat to reach Playa Bahía de las Águilas, which is protected by limestone cliffs.
If you’re going to Bahia de las Aguilas from Santo Domingo, the journey will take you most of the day, but you’ll need your own car or a driver.
If you’re travelling with public transport, you can take a bus to Barahona (approx. 3 hours 20, 4 daily buses with Caribe Tours), then hire a driver to cover the final stretch to Bahía de las Águilas, or ask your accommodation to arrange a transfer.
From Barahona, it’s also possible to join a day trip to Bahia de las Aguilas, including a boat ride and lunch on the beach. This is probably the best way to visit the beach if you’re pressed for time!
Alternatively, we recommend spending at least two or three nights at Bahía de las Águilas, to relax, spend time on the beach, and just enjoy being away from it all.
Where to Stay at Bahía de las Águilas
For a long time, there was nowhere to stay at Bahía de las Águilas. Visitors had to stay either in Pedernales, a dusty border town, or Barahona. Some report being able to camp on the beach, but due to the area’s protected status, camping is actually forbidden and there are no facilities or water sources.
A few years ago, two glamping resorts have opened up at Cabo Rojo, the beach right next to Playa Bahía de las Águilas. The first one you’ll reach is Eco del Mar, an eco resort offering both regular camping tents with shared bathrooms, and decked glamping tents with private bathroom, four poster beds and air conditioning inside.
Less than a kilometre down the road you’ll find Rancho Típico Cueva de las Águilas, offering accommodation in tents on the beach, with shared bathrooms and shower facilities.
This is the resort we stayed at, and we all liked it and had a comfortable sleep, but if it’s a real ‘glamping’ experience you are looking for, then opt for Eco del Mar.
Things to do at Bahía de las Águilas
Once you’ve reached this paradise beach, you may be wondering what to do at Bahía de las Águilas. Just look at the picture below – I mean, do you really need things to do? Isn’t just looking at this view, filling your lungs with fresh sea air, splashing around, and getting your fill of Vitamin Sea enough for you?
From your accommodation at Cabo Rojo, you’ll need a 15-minute boat ride to reach Playa Bahía de las Águilas. Both resorts offer this service, charging approximately RD$2500 for a return trip for the entire boat(up to 6 people).
Travelling to the beach, you’ll be sailing past and around some limestone rock formations, surrounded by the clearest, bluest, dreamiest water you’ve ever seen.
The boat will drop you off at Playa Bahía de las Águilas, a 7 km crescent of fine white sand. You just need to arrange a pick-up time with the boatman (my tip – ask to be the last one to be picked up!), and spend your day swimming, sunbathing and just around.
If you can, rent some snorkelling equipment or take your own, as snorkelling at Bahía de las Águilas is said to be incredible. The water is crystal-clear and visibility excellent, despite the sandy bottom.
Species commonly seen include starfish (don’t pick them up please!), octopus, sea urchin, lobsters and all sorts of colourful fish, who might even come and nibble your feet while you’re swimming.
Other things to do at Bahía de las Águilas are stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. You can rent SUP boards and sea kayaks from both glamping resorts at Cabo Rojo.
The main Playa Bahia de las Aguilas (the one you reach by boat) is probably too far to reach on a board or kayak, but you can still have fun paddling for an hour or two – especially when sunset comes!
Finally, if you want to splurge and see this pristine stretch of coast from above, Eco del Mar organises scenic flights by helicopter or small plane.
Ecotourism at Bahía de Las Águilas
Bahía de las Águilas is a true corner of paradise, the kind of place where you can leave the world behind for a few days. It was a hidden secret for so long – nowadays, thanks to the two glamping resorts, tourist numbers are definitely on the up.
Since we are talking about a really remote place, it’s more important than ever for tourism development to be sustainable from the get-go. Both glamping resorts claimed to be eco-minded – not having visited Eco del Mar, I can’t report on how it is over there, but I can say that we saw way too much single-use plastic at Rancho Tipico.
Admittedly, though, when we raised the issue with the manager, he listened carefully to all our concerns, and shortly afterwards all plastic cups and straws disappeared, and reusable ones were brought out instead. Sometimes, pointing things out respectfully goes a long way!
When visiting Bahía de las Águilas, try to tread as lightly as possible. Don’t litter – that should go without saying. Better still, if your rubbish includes crisp packets or plastic bottles, it’s probably better to take it back with you to a place like Santo Domingo, where it’s disposed of more easily.
Please limit the duration of your showers, since water is very scarce – the entire area surrounding Jaragua National Park is a semi-arid desert. Finally, try to use only biodegradable shampoo and shower gel, and reef-safe sunscreen.
These small gestures will help preserve this natural paradise – and Bahía de las Águilas will continue to be the most beautiful beach in the Dominican Republic, for many years to come.