Out of all of the beaches in the Dominican Republic, there are some volunteers who think the dreamiest coastlines are around Bayahibe and La Romana.
Out of all the beaches you’ll find on the island, Bayahibe and La Romana are total favorites for more than a few reasons. The once sleepy fishing village sits right on the coast, boasting pretty beaches and day trips to smaller islands that have world-class snorkeling. It’s pretty perfect.
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Since most volunteers and travelers head to La Romana first (that's where the airport and bus stations are), we've pulled together all the tips you need for a few days in La Romana and Bayahibe. A vacation here looks a little like this:
- A Map To Help You Out
- The Best Beaches Around
Day Trip To These Islands
- Getting Around On Your Trip
Getting To Bayahibe
A Map To Help You Out
We’re kind of covering two regions in this post: the city of La Romana (and surrounding beaches) and the region known as Bayahibe which stretches from La Romana and includes the East National Park. There are also two islands, Catalina and Saona, just right off the coast of this part of the mainland which are very popular day trips. Don't worry, we have all the details about below.
Most tourists start in La Romana because there’s an airport there and it’s a popular bus stop, then make their way down to the things to do in Bayahibe. We have way more info on all of that if you keep reading, but this map is just here to help you orient where everything is.
The Best Beaches Around
La Romana and Bayahibe are right around the coastline, so a long list of the best beaches to lounge on is coming for you. Here are some ILP volunteer favorites and details on each.
A hands down favorite, Bayahibe beach has calm, clear waters that are exactly what you want for a day at the beach. It’s full of white sand (no rocky spots here) and a handful of restaurants where you can snag lunch. You can get freshly caught lobster, grilled fish, and shrimp skewers along with a few other dishes. On one end there’s a striped lighthouse that makes for some pretty pictures.
Along with plenty of space for just laying out, Bayahibe beach is set up for a few water adventures. It’s the main jumping off point for tour on Starfish Island (more on that below), parasailing, inflatable banana boats, along with a few souvenir shops along the palm-tree lined streets.
This is one of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, so be sure to visit! Because it's a picturesque beach with calm water for swimming, and is set up with a handful of other activities, this is the number one beach ILP volunteers recommend.
An Idea On Prices:
Dressel Divers is a popular tour company in the area, with lots of water sports and activities available. You're welcome to book with them online (they typically give a 20% discount), but here's a point of reference of their prices so you know about how much things should cost if you're finding your own vendors on the beach.
- Tandem Parasailing: $100
- 1 Hour Wind Surfing Class: $40 (group) or $50 (private)
- Banana Boat Rides: $10 for 10 minutes
- Local Snorkeling: 1 hour for $45 (10 minutes off of the beach)
More of a local beach than one for the tourists, it’s a quiet spot of sand bookended by a rocky reef with calm waves. You’ll find a couple of pop-up restaurants that are selling freshly caught and grilled fish. This is a chill-hang out beach with pretty water and soft sand, perfect if you just want to lay out and do some swimming. It’s a short walk from the “downtown” of Bayahibe, which is really small and charming.
One of the most easily accessible beaches, this sandy spot is within walking distance of downtown La Romana. That access makes it a popular stop, but it's not the most beautiful beach in the area. Caleta beach is a big stretch of sand that curves in an open, half-moon shape, with a few places to eat and grab something to drink. Find these restaurants tucked back from the sand and against the palm trees.
There are a few chairs and umbrellas to rent for the day, but just a few. On one end, there’s a handful of painted boats that make for a pretty picture. Caleta is a low-key beach with calm waves, tan sand, and is good for swimming in one section of the beach (a few sections are rockier than others). Head here if you're in La Romana and can't taxi down to the beaches around Bayahibe.
This beach is backed by The Casa De Campo Resort and is one of the prettiest around. The resort is ultra luxurious with rooms selling for thousands of dollars per night. Yep, it’s the resort for the rich and famous, and the beach here is ah-mazing. You’ll find golden white sand, perfectly clear turquoise water, and lots of water sports available to keep you busy for the day: think snorkeling off shore, kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboards.
This is a private beach owned by the resort, so you have to register as a day guest at reception before entering. It’s a $25 charge just to access the beach but that does give you access to the amenities of the resort (they have a couple of pools and lounge chairs, plus you'll get to use the towels). It’s worth mentioning though because it really is one of the most gorgeous beaches in the area. Get more details here.
Day Trip To These Islands
Saona (AKA Starfish) Island
Welcome to starfish island! Saona Island is one of the main reasons people head to La Romana and Bayahibe. The island itself is known for tangled mangroves, coral reefs, and a palm fringed coastline, but let’s be honest — there real celebrities are the hundreds of starfish that hang out under the waves. Snorkel tours take out tourists on catamarans to the outskirts of the island where you can jump off and get close to these starfish.
Some tourists visit the island on a day trip from Punta Cana, but if you’re already vacationing around La Romana and Bayahibe, you’re just that much closer. You can find vendors who can take you out for the day if you walk around Bayahibe Beach.
We have a blog post all about visiting starfish island to give you a little more info.
Another day trip? Head to Catalina Island. You’ll find catamarans and motorboats hanging out on the coast waiting to take tourists off to a snorkeling tour around the reef protected by the nearby National Park. On the east side of the island is a reef nicknamed “the wall”, while the western side of the island boasts a snorkel spot nicknamed “the aquarium”. Both help you imagine what’s waiting for you when you dip below the waves — schools of colorful fish flitting around bunches of coral. Sometimes, snorkelers spot stingrays settling in the sand bed. Dreamy.
The beaches on Catalina island are also stunners, rimmed with soft white sand, curving palm trees, and clear blue water. Chair and umbrella rentals are available ($30 for the day). Between the snorkeling and the unreal beaches on Catalina island, it's a pretty popular place.
Booking A Tour
The only way to reach the island is by tour. There are multiple snorkel tours that pick up tourists in nearby La Romana, or in Bayahibe. Plan on spending $60 - $90+ for a day of snorkeling then lunch on the beach. Dressel Divers is just one example of a tour you can book with. Their Catalina tour is $99 (or $72.90 if you book online)
You’ll be able to book on the spot once you arrive in the area, especially if you talk with your hostel or hotel about options, or a lot of vendors hang around Caleta Beach).
Most tour operators hang out and depart from La Romana. From there, Catalina island is only 1.5 miles off the mainland, but you can find some tour operators in Bayahibe too who can take you out.
Getting To Here
To La Romana
Our favorite way to get around the Dominican Republic is by bus. There are some flights that can take you into the La Romana Airport, but they are exponentially more expensive than a bus trip. That link above has more detailed information about how to book tickets, but if you’re headed here from Puerto Plata (or nearby), you’ll typically need to book a ticket to Santo Domingo first, then get a $4 express bus to La Romana. Right now, there isn't a direct Puerto Plata to La Romana itinerary, but there is a bus from Santo Domingo to La Romana. Some volunteers are also hanging out in Punta Cana, then bus to La Romana. If That's you, Horadio buses has info on the itineraries.
Then To Bayahibe
Taxi and Ubers are all good options. Since most tourists start their trip in la Romana (it’s popular cruise port, it has an airport, and is easily reached by bus) you can find a car to take you around to the beaches in Bayahibe. Most tourists end up staying in Bayahibe: it’s a smaller city that’s set up with your basics, plus is close to a few of the best beaches around, and day trip options.
The two are about 20 minutes apart, so easy to travel and back forth between.
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