Top 9 Things To Do In The Untouched Southwest Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is paradise.

While the all-inclusive resorts and palm tree covered beaches of Punta Cana may have been the first thing that came to mind when you read the above sentence, I actually wrote it about the Southwest region of the country.

During my week long trip with the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Tourism, our adventures included discovering secret waterfalls, remote beaches, exotic wildlife, Caribbean wine, and so much more. I truly was blown away by the beauty and excitement waiting behind every corner!

So to help you plan your next venture to the Southwest Dominican Republic, here are the Top 9 Things To Do.

Southwest Dominican Republic

San Rafael Lookout

Driving along the coast in Barahona, you will come across a view worthy of a postcard. San Rafael lookout is located high on the cliffs and offers stunning views of San Rafael Beach, where the mountains meet the sea. It is an infamous landmark in the Dominican Republic and should not be missed!

Directions: Take the main highway along the coast (the 44) and pull over between Casa Bonita and Los Patos. There are some signs along the way so keep your eyes open!

San Rafael Lookout Dominican Republic

Hike to La Plaza

As always, I found some adventure!

You’ll find it too if you hike to La Plaza in the Barahona mountains. This hike will lead you to three tiers of waterfalls and crystal clear pools of the Bahoruco River. However, the trick is getting there.

The trail is off the beaten path, so you will need some help finding the trailhead as well as a 4×4. The best thing you can do is book a guide through Casa Bonita to take you to La Plaza.

Since you will be trekking through the forest, climbing over boulders, and crossing the river, I highly suggest you wear waterproof hiking shoes or comfortable water shoes at the least. You will be walking for about 1-2 hours (depending on your speed and fitness level), so proper footwear is a must! Unfortunately, our group of 10 was not prepared for the water crossings so it took us 2 hours to reach the falls.

Tip: Once you reach the first pool and waterfall, be sure to keep going. You can either climb around the rocks or up the waterfall itself. After hiking for about 5-10 minutes you will reach a second and third pool and waterfall (which were my personal favorites).

La Plaza Dominican Republic

Stop By Playa De Los Patos 

If you’re driving along the coast and are looking for a place to stop for lunch, check out Playa de Los Patos aka ‘The Ducks Beach”.

This beautiful pebble beach is a hot spot for fishing and dining by the locals. At the restaurant, be sure to try the fish! You won’t find fresher food in the country!

There is even a river that runs down to the ocean near the restaurant, so while you wait for your food, you can escape the heat by taking a dip in the crystal clear water.

Playa De Los Patos Dominican Republic

Nature Watch at Lago de Oviedo

Located in the extreme southwest of the Dominican Republic lies 530 square miles of the largest protected area in the Caribbean region, known as Jaragua National Park.

Within this park is the hypersaline lake, Lago de Oviedo.

What you’ll first notice about this body of water is its bright green color! This is caused by limestone sediments that are dragged into the lake by underground water flow.

What makes Lago de Oviedo special are the 70 different species of animals and fish that make this lake their home due to its hypersalinity. Of course, my personal favorite animal we discovered was the Rhinoceros Iguanas!

On small islands made up of dead coral, you can find and feed these iguanas. You all by now know my affinity for these dino-looking creatures, but I’ll be honest, these ones looked a lot more intimidating and were far more aggressive about their food compared to the ones I encountered in Exuma, Bahamas. They are still perfectly safe to feed, but don’t expect to pet them.

Lago de Oviedo is perfect for anyone curious about seeing wildlife in the Dominican Republic up close.

TIP: Bring bug spray! This was my biggest mistake. If you are planning on exploring some of the small islands around the lake, then you must spray yourself head to toe with bug spray. I didn’t do this and after walking around for only 10 minutes, I had about 30 mosquito bites.  

Jargua National Park 
Jargua National Park 
Jargua National Park 
Jargua National Park 

Sunset at Bahia de las Aguilas

My absolute favorite part about the trip to the Dominican Republic was visiting Bahia de las Aguilas!

Located in Jaragua National Park and only a couple miles from the Hatian boarder, this untouched beach offers white sand, turquoise waters, and privacy. Due to its isolation, the only way you can access this beach is by boat or 4×4. If you go by boat, you will get some awesome views of the coastal cliffs and open ocean.

We spent the afternoon playing in the warm Caribbean Sea, laying on the beach, and watching one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.

Tip: Bring bug spray and sunblock! The heat and humidity create a perfect environment for mosquitos so be cautious. And of course, with the lack of vegetation on the shore and direct sunlight, protect your skin with some strong sunblock.

Bahia de las Aguilas Dominican Republic

Stay at Rancho Platón Eco Lodge

Hidden in the the Baoruco Mountains, which stretches from Haiti into the Southwest Dominican Republic, is Rancho Platón Eco Lodge.

This unique ranch is located along a mountain river with cabins and tree houses. Inside each room are wooden panel walls and decorations that seamlessly meld with the surrounding landscape.

TIP: Stay in the Tree House Room!!!! It is the nicest room with the best views and accommodations!

My favorite part about Rancho Platón is how they utilize the river on the property to create a waterslide and pool! In the pool, they have a contraption in the middle that allows you to swing around like Tarzan and jump into the water, plus there are jets that spray water high into the air so it feels as if it is raining (see photos below)! Both the slide and pool are perfect for groups of all ages, especially children!

Some other activities you can do on and around the property are horseback riding, tubing down the river, waterfall climbing, and hiking.

You will need a 4×4 vehicle to access the ranch, however, the staff is more than happy to send out a van to the main road to pick up those who do not have the appropriate car and take them to the lodge.

Because Rancho Platón is off the beaten track, it is the perfect place to get away from many of touristy places in the Dominican Republic.

Rancho Planton Eco Lodge

Wine Tasting At Ocoa Bay

Attention all wine lovers! There is now a winery in the Caribbean!

Yep, you heard that right! At Ocoa Bay Vineyard, you can sip on some delicious Colombard wine while gazing outward toward to beautiful vineyards and the turquoise sea.

Most people are shocked to discover wine can grow in the Caribbean, but in reality, the tropical climate provides the perfect condition for growing grapes. The 16th-century Spanish explorers new this. In fact, they planted the first vineyard in the New World here! How incredible is that????

At the moment, the property features beautiful vineyards, a luxury pool, and a restaurant. In the next few years, Ocao Bay plans to expand their property to create an eco-luxury hotel with many rooms and several villas. We were shown these future plans, and let me tell you, it looks seriously insane!! I’ll definitely be back to stay!

Ocoa Bay Winery Dominican Republic
Ocoa Bay Winery Dominican Republic
Ocoa Bay Winery Dominican Republic

Escape Civilization at Playa Blanca

Across Ocao Bay, you will find another uninhabited beach only accessible by boat or a 4×4. I personally found the boat ride to be enjoyable as you’ll have incredible views of the bay and distant mountain range.

Once you arrive, your boat will anchor about 20 feet offshore! This is where you jump into that Caribbean blue sea and swim to the white sand beach of Playa Blanca. Now I am definitely someone who is afraid of sharks, but have no fear! The water is shallow and  I was assured more than once that there were no sharks in the area.

Playa Blanca Dominican Republic

Shop The Local Stands and Stores

Driving along the roads, you will pass many stands ran by the locals. They sell fresh fruits, juice, souvenirs and other various items at these shops. I definitely recommend stopping by not only to fill up on snacks but to have a chat with some of the friendliest people. Better pull out your old Spanish school books to brush up on the language!

Southwest Dominican Republic

The southwest of the Dominican Republic is a hidden gem that is just waiting to be explored. From quiet beaches to jungle waterfalls, the Southwest has everything for your adventurous soul. I promise you will be swept away by the beauty of this Caribbean island and find yourself never wanting to leave.

If you want to read more from my trip to the Dominican Republic, check out my blog post “The 10 Most Insta-Worthy Sites In The Heart Of Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo“.

Thank you so much to the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism for inviting me to explore your beautiful country. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Angie xoxo 

2017-12-24T01:40:32+00:00

13 Comments

  1. Mikayla January 9, 2018 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    I LOVE how detailed this is! It makes me want to buy a plane ticket right now!
    Bug spray is always one of those things you forget and desperately need! I do it all the time! :’D
    Thank you for sharing such an incredible guide! Your photos are incredible!
    Happy Travels xx
    – Mikayla
    http://www.mikaylajanetravels.com
    @mikaylajanetravels

  2. Savannah (brodytheblogger) January 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Loved this blog post! Every time I see your photos I immediately know it’s you because of the colors! You found your style for sure so keep it up!!

  3. Camilla_kalsas January 9, 2018 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I would love to visit this area of the dominican republic some time in the future, I went to Puerto Plata in december which was fine for a family trip (with a baby) for relaxation, but in my opinion tooo touristy.. I’m totally gonna look back on this post If/when I’m planning the trip. Ps: love your photos!

  4. Deepika Chauhan January 9, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    DR has always been on my list.. But after reading your blog I can’t wait to go.. I still have to save a lot for this trip and I am sure I can do that.. The pictures you have put are so inspiring. I have seen many other bloggers putting pictures of DR but none was as amazing as yours.. They created instant wanderlust in me.. Especially the sunset one.. IIts BEAUTIFUL.. I have already mailed this to myself.. Would open it when I am going there.. Thank you for putting up the amazing stuff.. keep doing good work.. Cheers ❤️

  5. Jayde January 9, 2018 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Wow Angie! To be honest I’ve never considering visiting the DR but after seeing your stunning photos it’s going on the bucket list! You had me at pastel sunsets, treehouses and wine tasting…

  6. perfectlyclaudia January 9, 2018 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Oh my gosh you had me hooked at pool and waterfall! I love hiking to hidden gems, what a dream. Lago de Oviedo looks and sounds incredible too, I’m absolutely taking notes here. I love a little nature spotting, I can honestly see myself sitting there for hours and waiting to see which incredible animals roam by next.

    I looove grabbing juice or fresh fruit from local vendors. I used to grab myself watermelon smoothie or passionfruit juice whenever I could in Thailand! This is something hugely lacking in modern cities, I know we have the odd juice bar but it’s hust not the same!

    What a fabulous mini guide 😍 thank you so much for sharing!

    Claudia xo

  7. Claudia (@claudiantonacci) January 9, 2018 at 7:29 am - Reply

    This is such a nice post! I love it as it’s not the usual entry that say go here and there. You give many iseful tips to plan your trip in advance. These are things qw usually don’t imagine or think about, such as taking with us a pair or proper pair of hiking shoes to get to a magic place like La Plaza, or being ready with a bug spray!
    You give your personal sensation an opinion but in a useful way for other people and this is great! Keep up!

  8. Sierra Golding January 9, 2018 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Wow this trip truly looks like an experience of a lifetime! I want to be swinging like Tarzan above that pool too. Your descriptions are enchanting and so inviting can’t wait until I can plan this trip myself. There are so many adventures that lie ahead. Thanks for reminding me of that!

  9. Aubrie Bell January 9, 2018 at 6:01 am - Reply

    Wow I loved this post so much! I loved all of your pictures! You look so cute in that orange dress in the beginning and the picture right after it took my breath away! I’ve actually never been to the Dominican Republic and your post definitely has having me put it on the ol’ bucket list!

  10. Sunetra Biswas (@globetrottingsu) January 9, 2018 at 4:53 am - Reply

    Just loved reading this detailed post. Have never been to DR and this untouched south looks amazing. Have loved all your IG photos of this place and this blog definitely motivates me to travel to DR with my bestie! My favorite part is the directions and tips as they are really very useful and helpful in planning my itinerary! Oh did I forget to mention about the winery … so kicked about it!! Love wine and sipping wine with that view- dram vacation! Thank you for sharing all this info Angie.

  11. Tiana (passportofmemories) January 9, 2018 at 3:52 am - Reply

    So much amazing information and stunning photos! I love reading a new perspective on a destination. Usually Dominican republic is known for their resorts but reading about the south west region and all the beautiful sights and experience to be done is a nice change. There’s so much more to destinations in the Caribbean then just the resorts. Can’t wait to read more from you!

  12. Kai Greene January 9, 2018 at 3:11 am - Reply

    So happy you enjoyed DR! Ive only been to Punta Cana but I will make sure to explore the untouched south! The hike to La Plaza, The Eco Lodge and the Winery are definitely at the top of my list! Thanks for all the details and this definitely helps with Itinerary planning. Really great Read! 😍😍

  13. Yawilka Mayer December 25, 2017 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I’m so happy you liked our beautiful DR! The southwest is my second home and your photos show perfectly how incredible it is. I’m loving your blog post!

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