Welcome to Barahona
Bio-diverse Barahona is one of the best kept secrets of Dominican Republic. Often referred to as “La Perla del Sur”(The Pearl of the South) and “Maravilla Natural” (Miracle of Nature), Barahona is located in the southwest of the country and remains one of the last frontiers for tourism. Made up of amazing natural beaches, unspoiled waterfalls, and rugged ranges of mountain pine, the area offers eco-friendly expansions that preserve the rare biosphere, specifically the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, which was added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reservesin 2002.
Barahona was founded in 1802 and gained recognition as a fishing and agricultural town, famous for its large plantations and vast collection of coffee and sugar fields. The area is home to some of the top coffee plantations in the country, which originated from the Spanish colonists who brought the plant to Hispaniola in the 18th century. Barahona coffee has been internationally recognized as “Denominación de Origen Café de Barahona,” an esteemed honor that endorses the unique characteristics and quality of coffee from this region. The pristine nature and flawless union between the beautiful unspoiled beaches and the majestic mountains of Barahona encourage eco and adventure tourism. The area boasts the largest saltwater lake in the Caribbean, a spectacular panoramic highway with a vista-lined coast and a dry forest of plants that lay near the green land cultivated with the best fruits. The area’s boutique and family-friendly hotels integrate the natural elements of the area. Both offer unique ecological experiences throughout the lush surroundings and incorporate local goods into their restaurants and ecofriendly Spas. The following guide to Barahona includes descriptions of its biodiversity, immaculate beaches, and more unique attractions in the nerby Province of Pedernales that await you!
Laguna de Oviedo – The saltwater lake, located in the Jaragua National Park, is one of the Caribbean’s most important ecological reserves and is the second largest body of water in Dominican Republic after Lake Enriquillo. There are mangrove swamps and 24 keys in the center of the lagoon, which visitors can see during a three-hour boat tour. Here, colonies of Ricord and Rhinoceros iguanas live and migratory and endemic birds nest, including the royal and Blue Heron, gulls, Spoonbill Pelicans, parrots and flamingos.
Cachote – Located one hour from Paraiso in Parque Nacional Sierra de Bahoruco, this hilltop hamlet and its winding paths offer a great ecotourism attraction. Visitors can observe a variety of tropical flora including bromeliads and wild orchids. And, as it is located at a higher altitude in a cloudy forest, it is also a paradise for bird watchers with more than 20 endemic species being reported.
LAGUNA CABRAL OR RINCÓN – The Laguna de Rincón is the country’s largest freshwater lagoon, reaching 18 square miles (46.8 square kilometers). The lagoon is home to a variety of fauna and wildlife including fresh water turtles, iguanas and more than 50 species of bird such as flamingos, pelican, heron and Florida duck.
Hoyo de Pelempito – An impressive geological depression on the Parque Nacional Sierra de Bahoruco, Hoyo de Pelempito is nestled between high mountains and considered one of the wonders of the Caribbean. The temperature ranges from 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) during the day to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) at night. The park’s facilities include an information center and several mountain trails that allow visitors to see the area’s diverse flora and fauna.
Las Caritas – Las Caritas is an archaeological site and natural rock center on the north side of Enriquillo Lake. The site boasts the area’s largest variety of petroglyphs, providing evidence of the Taino Indians’ inhabitance.
Polo – Polo is a municipality known for its high mountains and organic coffee production. Every year Polo hosts Festicafé, an organic coffee festival that promotes the environment’s preservation and coffee production. Visitors also come for the area’s nature, which surprises visitors with its optical illusion, Polo Magnético, an unusual phenomenon where bottles and cars roll uphill instead of down. Drive up to the bottom of the hill where the road begins to incline, put the car in neutral and the vehicle will begin to roll backwards, seemingly uphill. One of only 29 of these known “gravity hills” exist on the planet.
Cabo Rojo – Known for its white-sanded beach, Cabo Rojo earned its name from the presence of bauxite around the area. it remains one of the region’s most popular beaches, winning visitors over with its captivating views. The waters are home to some of the best preserved coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea and a breeding ground for the Antillean Manatee and the Juvenile Hawksbill. With refreshing waters and no waves, it is a popular beach for the locals and a home for pelicans who lounge on the buoys. Visitors can also enjoy Dominican cuisine and refreshments at the restaurant in the front of the beach. Boat rides to Bahía de las Aguilas are offered every day from Cabo Rojo.
Bahía de las Aguilas – The protected beach of Bahía de las Aguilas dazzles visitors with its white sand, crystal-clear waters and high rocky bordering coastline. Part of the Jaragua- Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, which was added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2002, the waters are home to coral reefs, manatees, marine turtles, lobsters and a colorful array of fish. To access the beach, visitors can rent a boat 15 minutes away at Cabo Rojo or take a 4-wheel SUV vehicle.
Larimar Mines – The Larimar mines of Bahoruco are a popular destination for the adventurous and the only place in the world where Larimar can be found. Local miners spend eight to nine hour days mining this rare, semi-precious blue stone at 700 feet (213 meters) deep in the mountains. Visitors can explore the mines with local tour operators or visit the local workshops where they can select a piece of Larimar and witness the cutting and polishing process.
Canopy Tour – The tropical jungle surrounding Casa Bonita offers the perfect playground for visitors. Here, guests zipline 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) on cables beneath the trees and glide along the pristine rivers and stunning vegetation. www.rabbitinternational.com
Tanama Eco Spa – Casa Bonita’s eco spa is strategically located in the middle of nature’s wonders and allows spa goers to receive luxurious pampering amidst tranquil rivers and flora. Treatments infuse natural native elements from Dominican Republic, including coffee, chocolate, coconut, bamboo, mango, noni, basil and pineapple to provide for an unforgettable experience. www.rabbitinertnational.com
Parque Eólico – The only wind farm in the country, Parque Eólico Los Cocos, generates enough power to keep one million light bulbs lit. The one-hour informational tour is the latest tourism attraction in the region and provides insight as to how the wind farm operates. Capitalizing on the wind farm, the local community creates souvenirs with wind farm motifs, including wooden models of the windmills. loscocos.egehaina.com
Bird watching – Barahona is home to numerous species of endemic birds not found elsewhere. Oviedo Lagoon is a popular place in the area for observing species such as the Royal Heron, Blue Heron, Spoonbill, seagulls, the White-Crowned Pigeon,
Carnival – The town of Cabral is famous for its cachúas (costumed devils) that appear between midnight on Holy Saturday and noon on Easter Monday. Celebrated in March, the Carnival festivities bring out the cachúas, who dress in colored overalls and bat wings in representation of slave hunters at a time of rebellion. On Holy Saturday the cachúas start to seek civilians (those unmasked, but holding a whip) or other cachúas, and in the afternoon the country’s oldest parade takes place. The festivities end on Monday when the cachúas tour the neighborhoods and burn Judas in the cemetery. The Pintaos, known for their magic, are another popular character iconic to Barahona’s Carnival celebration. Gaga is a religious ritual with music and dance, and highlights important events and dates during the Christian Holy Year. The music is very spiritual and its origins come from plantation workers. Aside from music and dance, voodoo is often part of the procession as a way to unite communities across cultural divides.
Mountain Bike Juancho-Los Cocos – The Electricity Generating Company Haina (EGE Haina) and the Dominican Federation of Cycling (FEDOCI) hold a mountain bike competition every April on the grounds of the country’s only wind farm, Parque Eólico Los Cocos, at Juancho, Pedernales. The event is recognized for supporting growth of the sport as well as development of the Barahona region. loscocos.egehaina.com
Neiba Grape Fair – Held the last weekend in August in Neiba, Dominican Republic’s leading grape cultivation region, the Grape Fair brings together grape growers who exhibit, market and exchange their experiences of grape production. The fair includes courses, lectures, and cultural and artistic activities for attendees.
Festival de Nuestra Señora del Rosario – The popular religious festival is held the first week in October to honor the official patron of Barahona. The event includes church processions, parades, marching bands and festivals. Additionally, the region’s dance, Carabine, is performed and includes the accordion, balsie, guira and pander.
Organic Coffee Festival –The Bahoruco Mountain Range has some of the country’s top coffee plantations, which creates the famous rich and robust coffee flavor. Known locally as “Festicafé”, the festival is held in Polo during October and celebrates the region’s coffee production and promotion of the preservation of the local environment with cultural events, musical performances, food tastings and more. The festival is organized by the Permanent Committee on Culture of Polo (SCLC), coffeeproducing cooperatives and more than 30 regional and national 0rganizations.