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Dominican Republic Road Trip: An Epic Southwest Coast Itinerary


by Rhodie Hewitt



Embarking on a road trip is a thrilling adventure that allows you to discover the hidden gems of a country at your own pace. And when it comes to road trips, the Dominican Republic offers an epic experience like no other. With its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history, the southwest coast of the Dominican Republic is the perfect destination for a memorable road trip.


From the lively capital city of Santo Domingo to the pristine beaches of Bahia de las Aguilas, this itinerary will take you on a journey of a lifetime. Get ready to explore colonial architecture, swim in crystal-clear waters, and immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of the Dominican Republic.


As you embark on this road trip, you’ll have the freedom to set your own schedule and stop at any attractions that catch your eye along the way. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or beach bum, this itinerary has something for everyone.


Before you hit the road, make sure you have all the essentials: a reliable rental car, a GPS or map, and a sense of adventure. Remember to also pack sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable clothes and shoes to ensure a comfortable journey.


So buckle up, turn up the music, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable road trip along the epic southwest coast of the Dominican Republic.


Day 1: Arrival in Santo Domingo

Welcome to the vibrant capital city of Santo Domingo, where your epic road trip adventure begins! After arriving at the Las Américas International Airport, pick up your rental car and make your way to your accommodation in the heart of the city.


Once you’ve settled in, take some time to explore the historic Zona Colonial, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the oldest European settlement in the Americas. Stroll through the cobblestone streets and marvel at the well-preserved colonial architecture that dates back to the 16th century.


A must-visit attraction in Santo Domingo is the Alcazar de Colón, the former residence of Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego. Step back in time as you wander through the rooms filled with antique furniture, artwork, and artifacts. The beautifully landscaped gardens are also worth exploring.


For a taste of local culture, head to the Mercado Modelo, a bustling market where you can find everything from handmade crafts to fresh produce. Bargain with the vendors and pick up some souvenirs to remember your trip.


In the evening, treat yourself to a traditional Dominican dinner at a local restaurant. Indulge in delectable dishes like sancocho (a hearty stew), mofongo (mashed plantains), or chivo guisado (stewed goat). Wash it all down with a refreshing Presidente beer or a signature rum cocktail.


After dinner, take a leisurely stroll along the Malecón, a waterfront promenade overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy the cool sea breeze and take in the stunning views of the city skyline as you reflect on the exciting journey ahead.


As you wrap up your first day in Santo Domingo, get a good night’s sleep and recharge for the adventures to come. Tomorrow, you’ll set off on the road trip as you head towards the charming coastal town of Barahona.


Day 2: Exploring Santo Domingo

Wake up refreshed and ready to continue exploring the captivating city of Santo Domingo. Today, you’ll delve deeper into the historical and cultural treasures this city has to offer.


Start your day with a visit to the Museo de las Casas Reales. This museum showcases the history of the Dominican Republic during the colonial era through its impressive collection of artifacts, paintings, and exhibitions. Learn about the impact of Spanish colonization on the indigenous populations and the legacy left behind.


Next, make your way to the iconic Catedral Primada de América, the oldest cathedral in the Americas. Stand in awe of its grandeur and admire the intricate architecture and religious artwork inside. Take a moment for quiet reflection or attend a service if you wish.


A short walk from the cathedral leads you to the Fortaleza Ozama, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest military structures in the Americas. Explore the fortress and climb to the top for panoramic views of the city and the mouth of the Ozama River.


For lunch, head to one of the local restaurants or street food vendors to indulge in the flavors of the Dominican Republic. Sample some delicious empanadas, tostones (fried plantains), or a plate of arroz con pollo (rice with chicken).


In the afternoon, visit the National Botanical Garden, a lush oasis in the heart of the city. Stroll through the various gardens and enjoy the diverse collection of native and exotic plant species. Take a leisurely boat ride on the lake or simply relax and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.


To end your day in Santo Domingo on a high note, head to the Plaza de España in the evening. Join the locals in this picturesque square overlooking the Caribbean Sea and enjoy live music, street performances, and the vibrant atmosphere. Grab a drink at one of the nearby bars or indulge in some mouthwatering street food.


As you bid farewell to Santo Domingo tomorrow, reflect on the rich history and cultural heritage you’ve experienced. Get a good night’s rest, as Day 3 will take you to the enchanting coastal town of Barahona.


Day 3: Heading to Barahona

It’s time to hit the road and leave the bustling city of Santo Domingo behind as you make your way to the picturesque coastal town of Barahona. Today’s journey will take you through stunning landscapes and provide you with a taste of the natural beauty that awaits.


Start early to make the most of the day and head west along the scenic Route 2. As you drive through the lush countryside, you’ll pass by charming villages, rolling hills, and even catch glimpses of the Caribbean Sea.


Make a stop at Parque Nacional Sierra de Bahoruco, a stunning national park known for its biodiversity and mesmerizing landscapes. Take a guided hike through the park to discover hidden waterfalls, pristine rivers, and unique flora and fauna. Nature enthusiasts will find this leg of the journey truly captivating.


Continue your drive to Barahona and arrive in the afternoon. Check into your accommodation and take a refreshing dip in the Caribbean Sea at one of the beautiful beaches that line the coast. Enjoy the warm sand, turquoise waters, and peaceful atmosphere.


In the evening, explore the town of Barahona and its vibrant local culture. Visit the bustling marketplace to admire local crafts, sample fresh fruits, or stock up on snacks and drinks for your road trip. Don’t forget to try some of the local delicacies, such as fresh seafood or a popular Dominican dish called “la bandera” (the flag), consisting of rice, beans, meat, and plantains.


As the night falls, take a moment to relax and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of Barahona. Gaze up at the starry sky and listen to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. Tomorrow, you’ll continue your adventure as you explore the natural wonders of Pedernales.


Day 4: Discovering Pedernales

Get ready for a day of adventure as you venture into the untouched beauty of Pedernales. Located just a short drive from Barahona, Pedernales is a hidden gem known for its pristine beaches, lush forests, and unique landscapes.


Start your day early to make the most of your time in Pedernales. After a hearty breakfast, head towards the Jaragua National Park, a vast protected area that encompasses diverse ecosystems, including mangroves, dry forests, and stunning coastal areas.


Make your first stop at the picturesque Playa de Cabo Rojo. With its golden sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and dramatic cliffs, this beach is a paradise for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts. Take a refreshing swim, soak up the sun, or simply relax and enjoy the breathtaking surroundings.


Continue your exploration of Jaragua National Park by visiting the stunning Laguna de Oviedo. This tranquil lagoon is home to an abundance of bird species, including flamingos, herons, and pelicans. Take a boat tour of the lagoon to witness these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat and admire the impressive mangrove forests that line its shores.


For lunch, head to one of the local seafood restaurants in the area. Indulge in fresh seafood delicacies, such as grilled lobster, ceviche, or fish tacos. The flavors of the Caribbean Sea are sure to tantalize your taste buds.


In the afternoon, continue your journey to the secluded Playa de los Patos. This hidden beach is known for its black sand, rugged cliffs, and powerful waves. It’s a favorite spot among surfers, but even if you don’t surf, you can still enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach, take in the breathtaking scenery, and feel the raw power of the ocean.


As the day winds down, make your way back to Barahona and enjoy a relaxing evening. Reflect on the natural wonders you’ve experienced in Pedernales and savor the memories created during this day of exploration.


Tomorrow, you’ll embark on another extraordinary adventure as you journey to the pristine paradise of Bahia de las Aguilas.


Day 5: Venturing into Bahia de las Aguilas

Get ready to discover one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in the Caribbean – Bahia de las Aguilas. Today’s adventure will take you off the beaten path as you venture into this pristine paradise.


Start your day early and make your way to the town of Pedernales, where you’ll find the entrance to Bahia de las Aguilas. The journey to this remote beach will take you through breathtaking landscapes of untouched nature.


Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a long stretch of white sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and the peacefulness of a beach that remains unspoiled by mass tourism. With its secluded location, Bahia de las Aguilas offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Spend your day basking in the sun, swimming in the clear waters, and breathing in the salty air. Take long walks along the shore, explore the surrounding cliffs and caves, or simply relax under the shade of a palm tree. This is your opportunity to immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of nature.


If you enjoy snorkeling, don’t miss the chance to explore the vibrant underwater world of Bahia de las Aguilas. Grab your snorkeling gear and dive into the clear waters to discover colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and other marine life.


For lunch, pack a picnic and enjoy a beachfront feast. Indulge in fresh fruits, sandwiches, and local snacks while enjoying the breathtaking views around you. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.


As the day comes to an end, take a moment to admire the mesmerizing sunset over the tranquil waters of Bahia de las Aguilas. The colors painting the sky will leave you in awe, creating a picture-perfect memory to cherish.


After spending a full day in this natural paradise, make your way back to Barahona or opt to camp out and spend the night under the stars, surrounded by the pristine beauty of Bahia de las Aguilas.


Tomorrow, you’ll continue your journey as you head to Enriquillo Lake, a unique and fascinating natural wonder.


Day 6: Visiting Enriquillo Lake

Today’s adventure takes you to Enriquillo Lake, the largest lake in the Caribbean and a fascinating natural wonder. Prepare for a day of exploration as you discover the diverse ecosystem and unique attractions surrounding this captivating body of water.


Start your day by driving from Barahona to the border of Enriquillo Lake. As you approach, you’ll be mesmerized by the vast expanse of shimmering waters and the surrounding mountains that create a picturesque backdrop.


Begin your exploration by visiting the Enriquillo Lake National Park, where you’ll find an abundance of wildlife and a chance to observe some truly unique species. Keep an eye out for the American crocodile, which inhabits the lake and its surrounding mangrove forests. You may also spot some iguanas, flamingos, and a variety of bird species as you explore the park’s trails.


Next, make your way to Isla Cabritos, a small island located within Enriquillo Lake. This island is home to numerous endemic plant and animal species, making it a biodiversity hotspot. Take a boat tour to the island and explore its diverse ecosystems, including dry forests and wetlands. Keep an eye out for the rhinoceros iguana, a unique reptile found only in Hispaniola.


While on Isla Cabritos, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Los Guineos Ecological Interpretation Center. Here, you’ll learn more about the wildlife and plants that call Enriquillo Lake their home. The center offers educational exhibits and guided tours to help you gain a deeper understanding of the ecosystem and the efforts being made to protect it.


After a day of exploration, find a spot along the lakeshore to enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the beautiful surroundings. Listen to the sounds of nature and savor the tranquility that Enriquillo Lake offers.


As the day comes to a close, enjoy one last look at the breathtaking views of Enriquillo Lake before making your way back to Barahona. Reflect on the unique experiences and natural wonders you’ve encountered throughout the day.


Tomorrow, you’ll embark on the final leg of your road trip as you make your way back to Santo Domingo.


Day 7: Road trip back to Santo Domingo

It’s time to bid farewell to the beautiful landscapes and stunning coastal towns as you embark on the final leg of your road trip back to Santo Domingo. Today’s journey will not only be a drive but also an opportunity to reflect on the incredible experiences and memories you’ve made along the way.


Start your day by enjoying a leisurely breakfast in Barahona and savoring the last moments in this charming town. Take a stroll through the streets, perhaps picking up some souvenirs or stopping by a local café to fuel up before hitting the road.


As you drive back towards Santo Domingo, take your time to soak in the scenery and the diverse landscapes that unfold before you. You’ll pass through picturesque villages, lush farmlands, and rolling hills. Feel free to make stops along the way to stretch your legs, take photos, or explore any attractions that catch your eye.


Consider making a detour to the San Rafael del Yuma Caves, a network of underground caves with stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and underground river systems. It’s a unique opportunity to delve into the mysterious world just beneath the surface of the Dominican Republic.


As the day progresses, you’ll approach Santo Domingo, the vibrant capital city that marks the end of your road trip. Before returning your rental car, take the opportunity to explore any attractions that you may have missed during your first days in the city.


Visit the National Palace, the seat of the Dominican government, and admire its grandeur and architectural beauty. Wander through the botanical gardens of the Jardín Botánico Nacional and immerse yourself in the lush greenery and tranquility.


Wrap up your road trip with a visit to the Malecón, the iconic waterfront promenade of Santo Domingo. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the oceanfront, take in the views, and perhaps stop for a meal or a refreshing beverage at one of the many restaurants and bars that line the strip.


As you return your rental car and reflect on the amazing journey you’ve had, take a moment to appreciate the memories, the new experiences, and the connections you’ve made along the way. Your road trip through the southwest coast of the Dominican Republic has not only allowed you to explore the beauty of this country but also discover the joy of traveling and the freedom of the open road.


Although your road trip may be coming to an end, the memories and the spirit of adventure will remain with you forever. Until your next road trip, allow the enchanting spirit of the Dominican Republic to continue inspiring your travels.



As you conclude your road trip through the southwest coast of the Dominican Republic, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and fulfillment. You have experienced the rich history of Santo Domingo, explored the stunning landscapes of Barahona, ventured into the remote beauty of Pedernales, discovered the pristine paradise of Bahia de las Aguilas, and marveled at the natural wonders of Enriquillo Lake.


Throughout this journey, you have been captivated by the diverse and breathtaking beauty of the Dominican Republic. From the colonial architecture and vibrant culture of Santo Domingo to the untouched beaches and lush forests of the southwest coast, there is something truly magical about this part of the country.


As you traveled from one destination to another, you embraced the freedom of the open road. The joy of discovering hidden gems, meeting friendly locals, and immersing yourself in the local culture has made this road trip an unforgettable experience.


From the historical sites to the natural wonders, the southwest coast of the Dominican Republic has offered a blend of adventure, relaxation, and exploration. Whether you were exploring cobblestone streets in Santo Domingo or lounging on pristine beaches in Bahia de las Aguilas, each day brought a new and exciting experience.


As you reminisce about the breathtaking landscapes, the flavors of the local cuisine, and the warmth of the Dominican people, you realize that this road trip has left an indelible mark on your heart. It has ignited a newfound love for exploration, a deeper appreciation for nature’s beauty, and a desire to continue discovering the wonders of the world.


As your road trip comes to a close, cherish the memories you’ve made and the connections you’ve forged along the way. The southwest coast of the Dominican Republic has provided an epic adventure, one that will be forever etched in your travel tales.


Until your next road trip, may the spirit of adventure guide you and may your journeys be filled with wonder, discovery, and the joy of the open road. Farewell, until we meet again!