Bayahibe is a tiny tourist town, formerly a fishing town, nestled between the cruise ship town of La Romana and the Parque del Este at the south east of the island.
Even though it’s surrounded on all sides by giant resorts, it’s somehow managed to keep its character.
Most tourists who stay here come to dive Bayahibe; the town itself has a very chilled-out vibe particular to all diving towns. Tourists here generally mingle with locals and have a nonchalance to their movements that I think comes hand in hand with nitrogen toxicity.
Bayahibe is full of cute little beach-side resto/bars and genuine little hotel/motels that cater to the type of crowd who don’t mind sacrificing a few creature comforts in order to afford a couple more beer while chatting about what undersea creatures they came in contact with that day.
Ah, if only divers were the only visitors!!
Alas, you can’t be that close to so many all-inclusives without getting some overflow. Lobster-skinned tourists by the busloads from the Punta Cana/Bavaro hotels and La Romana cruise ships perpetuate the morning rush hour they’re all supposedly escaping. The busses unload in the morning and reload in the evening, so thousands of tourists can pay way too much money to pack like sardines on boats and booze-cruises to what was previously the ‘remote’ island of Saona and its crystal clear waters. Not so remote when swarming with drunk snorlers and sun-bathers.
Luckily for the town, most tourist don’t actually stay, and take with them the hundreds of boats that have turned what was previously a gorgeous beach into a makeshift harbor for the catamarans and small fishing boats, resting between their daily excursions.
So during the day, between the hours of 9am and 5pm, the town is mostly enjoyable: quaint, peaceful, and quiet, though bus sling with local life, oh, and everyone and their mother trying to sell you a boat tour.
If diving’s your thing, Bayahibe might just be for you. From what we understand the waters are some of the most beautiful and lively in the DR, although I’m not sure how long that can last with mass tourism disturbing the waters with underwater noise and gas pollution.
If you’re kind of into diving, but also like to hike and see nature, skip this and head north to Las Galeras, which has a little less underwater biodiversity, but is much more interesting above land.
If diving isn’t your thing, and you’re not already planning to travel in that area, don’t even bother. There are still hundreds of gorgeous and untouched beaches on this island, you don’t need to send $60 per head getting to one. Your plane ticket was already expensive enough.
The neighboring city of La Romana is equally uninteresting. It’s mostly a port-town catering to the cruise ships and resorts that have appropriated 90% of the accessible coast line, leaving locals with a tiny dirty bit which they still make the best of, especially on weekends. If you find it, don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms. It’s the only beach they have left, has occasional surf, and is protected like gold by the locals who, understandably, don’t feel like sharing any more than they already have.
What we did enjoy about Bayahibe, unlike La Romana, is that the locals are especially welcoming. Perplexingly, it has managed to stay genuine and small-townish despite the privatization that surrounds it, almost as if an invisible barrier kept all the bad-vibes out. Maybe because those looking for the all-inclusives don’t have far to go with Playa Dominicus just a couple miles down the road, and the steady income from the day-tourism keeping everyone’s pockets comfortably filled. Who knows, but it’s a refreshing oasis from the miles of coastline to the west and to the north-east.
The other thing we enjoyed was the spectacular view of the sunsets over the ocean. Located on one to the few west-facing coastline in the Dominican Republic, if you’re not a morning person and you’d rather get your sungazing in at dusk than dawn, then Bayahibe’s sunset vista remains unspoiled and stunning. A perfect place to catch a green flash, as Gabriel unknowingly did!