Bayahibe was a mostly undiscovered gem on the south coast of the Dominican Republic until the late 1990s. Some independent travelers knew it before, but the more resort-oriented traveler had never heard of it. Bayahibe is becoming increasingly touristy, but there is still a striking contrast between Bayahibe and the much more popular Punta Cana resort megaplex on the east coast.
Bayahibe also has a totally different atmosphere than the popular tourist destinations of Puerto Plata, Sosua and other tourist destinations on the north coast. However, in this article, I will focus on some of the differences between Bayahibe and Punta Cana.
Bayahibe has a true sense of community unlike Punta Cana
Founded in the late 1800s, Bayahibe has a long history of being a working fishing village. As such, it has a strong sense of community that is not based solely on tourism dollars like the one found in Punta Cana. In fact, Punta Cana’s history is relatively short-lived and relies almost entirely on tourism. All of its development and expansion has been driven by profits from tourism.
Compared to Punta Cana, Bayahibe is simpler and more relaxed. In Bayahibe, it is easy to mingle with true Dominicans and enjoy the authentic culture of the Dominican Republic. Dominicans are very kind and big-hearted people and they will gladly talk to you. In fact, don’t be surprised if they want you to dance the meringue with them too! If you want to meet true Dominicans in Bayahibe, simply visit the seaside bars, open-air restaurants, the very popular billiard room, and shop in the local community. You can’t find a similar authentic experience in the resort towns of Punta Cana, even if you try.
Bayahibe has fewer resorts and more hotels and cabins not included
The Punta Cana coastline has become one all-inclusive resort after another with very few options for the independent traveler. Bayahibe, on the other hand, has only one all-inclusive resort known as Dreams La Romana Resort. This is a 568-room complex that is located in one of the best parts of Playa Bayahibe (Bayahibe Beach). Otherwise, all accommodation in Bayahibe are small independent hotels, bed and breakfast places and cabins. Hotel Bayahibe is the largest of the independents and has only 25 rooms. Again, you get a more authentic experience by staying in Bayahibe compared to Punta Cana. Just to clarify, I should mention that there are 6 large-scale resorts within 2-3 miles of Bayahibe in Dominicas to the southeast, which are sometimes considered part of the Bayahibe region.
The cabins are cute freestanding “cabins” or small cabins, traditionally built with a thatched roof, although not all have them now. They are scattered throughout Bayahibe, including some on the beach. You used to be able to rent them for a very low price, but the price has really gone up in recent years as more tourists have arrived and more of them are being used as accommodation for the employees of the approaching resorts. a good deal though if you can find one! Of course, they are also a totally different experience from a Punta Cana resort.
Caribbean Sea vs Atlantic Ocean
When many people think of “The Caribbean”, they believe that the entire region is within the quiet and calm Caribbean Sea. However this is not entirely true. The Dominican Republic, like the other large islands in the Caribbean, is located on the border of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Its north and east coasts face the Atlantic Ocean and its south coast faces the Caribbean Sea. Now, here is the most important difference for the tourist: the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are much more rough and wild than the peaceful and calm waters of the Caribbean.
Bayahibe is located on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. Therefore, the waters surrounding its shores are calm and calm. The sand is also ultra-fine and silky. On the other hand, the coast of Punta Cana (which includes Bávaro) is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic. This places it in the Atlantic Ocean where the waters are more turbulent and the sand is slightly coarser. As you head south on the coast of Punta Cana, you begin to enter the transition zone between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and the sea becomes a little softer and the sand becomes finer. However, the sea even at the southern end of the Punta Cana coast is still not as calm as the sea adjacent to Bayahibe.
Sunsets over west facing bays facing east facing water
Due to the curvature of the terrain in the region, Bayahibe is located in two bays that face west. In fact, this is one of the few locations in the entire Dominican Republic that faces west. Therefore, the sunsets here are considered the most spectacular in the country with the sun sinking directly into the ocean. You can enjoy this sunset water view from any number of outdoor restaurants and bars, or from the public beach.
Punta Cana is on the east coast of the Dominican Republic and therefore not ideal for viewing sunsets over the water, although sunrises can be spectacular in Punta Cana.
Climate and microclimate
Bayahibe is considered by many to have the best microclimate of any place in the Dominican Republic. While Punta Cana certainly has less rain than Samaná Bay and other rainy places on the Dominican north coast, Bayahibe has much less rain than Punta Cana! In fact, Bayahibe also has less rain than La Romana, the popular tourist area just 19 miles to the east. Bayahibe is said to have roughly the same amount of rainfall during its “rainy season” as the north coast of the Dominican Republic in its “dry season.”
Bayahibe is also warmer on average than most other tourist destinations in the country. This is particularly true in the winter when both the ambient temperature and the water temperature are warmer than in Punta Cana and the tourist destinations of the Dominican north coast.
Distance to Saona Island, Catalinita Island and the Eastern National Park
The most popular day trip in the Dominican Republic is a boat excursion to Isla Saona (Isla Saona). In fact, more than 2000 people visit this island on average per day! Saona Island is part of the Parque Nacional Este (Parque Nacional del Este) located in the extreme southeast of the Dominican Republic. Almost all boat trips to Saona Island depart from the port of Bayahibe. This means that tourists in Punta Cana must first take a bus or taxi to Bayahibe before they can get on a boat from Bayahibe to Saona Island. This can take 1 to 2 hours one way and 2 to 4 hours round trip. Therefore, it is much more convenient and relaxing to take an excursion to Isla Saona if you are already staying in Bayahibe!