Unspoiled nature, secluded beaches and eco-resorts abound in Barahona

Exploring the southwest of the Dominican Republic really brought out the nature girl in me. From staying at eco-resorts to sleeping on the beach, I couldn’t get enough of being around unspoiled nature. About a 3 hour car ride from Santo Domingo, the area is full of stunning scenery, biodiversity and some of the friendliest people that are eager to share their hidden gems. Below are my top 8 activities to do when visiting.

1. Witness stunning sunrises

My favorite part about staying at seaside resorts is waking up to a colorful sunrise. During our first morning at Casa Bonita, a jungle retreat overlooking the ocean, we were graced with this stunning glow. Throughout the week, these types of scenes seemed to be the norm everywhere we went!

2. Stay in a private villa at Casa Bonita

Arriving at Casa Bonita, I felt right at home amongst the lush jungle foliage overlooking the Caribbean Sea. This family-owned resort used to be a summer home and is now the perfect getaway for relaxing and adventure, with an infinity pool, hiking trails, surfing, yoga and nearby cave exploring.

A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the hotel has 12 distinct rooms made from local thatch and native trees. Their on-site organic garden and farm provides farm-to-table meals in addition to the freshest local seafood. For ultimate relaxation, their Tanama Eco Spa is nestled within the forest and includes treatments using natural elements like coffee, chocolate, coconut, bamboo and pineapple.

3. Visit an iguana island at Laguna Oviedo

Located in Jaragua National Park, this UNESCO-recognized nature reserve is home to many unique bird species, flamingos and iguanas. We took a boat tour around the park and spotted wildlife around each small island in the lagoon before meeting the hundreds of iguanas that inhabit Cayo Iguana. They were completely harmless and eager for the fruit we brought along.

4. Get your glamping on at Eco Del Mar

Located in Playa de la Cueva bordering Jaragua National Park, Eco Del Mar is the perfect beach retreat. With comfortable tents lining the white sand beach, waking up to the sound of waves and crystal clear turquoise waters right outside our tent was definitely a treat! They offer activities like paddle boarding, snorkeling, fishing and local boat excursions, but it’s also possible to chill on a hammock all day doing absolutely nothing!

5. Dance your way into the sunset at Bahia de las Aguilas

Imagine 20km of white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters located in a UNESCO-recognized national park. Arriving either by boat or all-wheel-drive vehicle through the park, this protected beach wilderness has no development or human inhabitants. Be sure to bring enough water and snacks to last until sunset as there are no stores or restaurants nearby.

6. Sleep in a treehouse at Rancho Platon

Located high up in the mountains of Barahona is a unique boutique hotel and lush escape called Rancho Platon. Imagine sleeping amongst waterfalls and lush greenery in a comfy bungalow next to a running river. Or for those feeling more adventurous, they have a fancy treehouse that puts you in nature without losing the comforts of home. Activities include horseback riding through the jungle, tubing down the Nizao River and hiking in nearby forests.

7. Enjoy a wine tasting at Ocoa Bay

This winery, resort and restaurant by the sea is the Dominican Republic’s first major vineyard and sustainable development project. Arriving at Ocoa Bay, I was immediately drawn to the infinity pool overlooking the bay with the same name and all the mid-century architecture with shapes that mimic the surrounding mountains. While touring the grounds with the owners, two former doctors, I learned how their passion for wine and their travels led them to this project, which includes a foundation that partners with the local community providing employment, education and training.

8. Sail on a private boat in Playa Blanca

During our stay at Ocoa Bay, we took a boat over to this nearby secluded white sand beach. Hidden in the bay and similar to Bahia de las Aguilas, there are no stores, vendors or restaurants nearby—just white sand and turquoise waters! Perfect for relaxing and enjoying a dip in the warm waters.

The ideal getaway for independent travelers looking for an adventure, the Dominican Republic’s southwest is full of natural wonders and places to explore. I was really impressed with the area’s commitment to sustainability, ecotourism and preservation. Definitely can’t wait to go back and explore more of her pristine waters and jungles.

Photos of me and drone shots courtesy of Nick Argires and Angie from The Lovely Escapist.

Thanks to Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism for hosting me in this beautiful land. All opinions and photos are my own.