Barahona, Dominican Republic

The Bathing Dominican Republic of Barahona

The Caribbean Sea of ​​San Rafael
Very tropical view of San Rafael beach.
Walk under Coconut Trees
Resident walks along the seafront in the San Rafael area.
Fish and Seafood
Balneário San Rafael restaurant owners rest in the shade.
Tostones Wealth
Cooks have just prepared tostones in one of the various restaurants in the San Rafael resort.
Faith in Wifi
Customer helps himself to a Dominican Presidential beer, in a bar in San Rafael.
river baths
Bathers refresh themselves in the water of San Rafael's terraced river.
Presidential Conversation
Friends share a great Presidential beer at the counter of a bar in the San Rafael resort.
Leap to the Known
Bathers indulge in acrobatics and conversations at the Los Patos spa.
Caribbean coconut grove
Small coconut forest right on the edge of the Caribbean Sea.
The Balneario Los Patos
The resort of Los Patos is full of bathers from this part of the province of Barahona.
Trio Los Patos
Three young bathers pose for photography in the emerald water of the Los Patos resort.
La Cueva de Los Indios
Vases of swans adorn a wall indicative of La Cueva de los Índios in Los Patos.
little bath
A delicious late-afternoon bath in the fresh water of the Los Patos spa.
grill smoke
A restaurant maid controls the grilling in a smoky and improvised kitchen.
Los Patos Colors
Passengers in excess of a motorbike speeding in front of the introductory sign for Los Patos.
Los Patos ducks
A child gives bread to the ducks that always swim in Los Patos.
wet bike boy
Smiling young bather prepares to leave Los Patos bathhouse still wet.
Rolls Time
Residents of the province of Barahona in full hairdressing session.
An almost buffet
A row of Dominican snack stands serves the bathers of the San Rafael resort.
very grated coconut
A cook grates coconuts next to one of the restaurants in the San Rafael resort.
Saturday after Saturday, the southwest corner of the Dominican Republic goes into decompression mode. Little by little, its seductive beaches and lagoons welcome a tide of euphoric people who indulge in a peculiar rumbear amphibian.

That was what circumstances had led to. In particular, the Dominican Republic's internal rivalry regarding the promotion of tourism in its regions.

In the days when we were already discovering the eastern half of old Hispaniola, we passed by Puerto Plata, a northern city, pioneer of Dominican tourism and which bore the nickname of “New from the Atlantic".

For, in this of novels and of seas and oceans, the Dominicans, like their neighbors Boricuas, it has to be said, do not play around in service. If the Atlantic already belonged to Puerto Plata, the region of Barahona took over the Caribbean.

Barahona called himself "La Novia of the Caribbean”. With obvious legitimacy.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, home hairdresser

Residents of the province of Barahona in full hairdressing session.

While northern Puerto Plata faced the bottom of the Lesser Antilles stepping stone and the Atlantic, Barahona appears in the middle of a sort of almost triangular peninsula that goes into the Caribbean Sea.

And that the island of Alto Velo is the southernmost tip of the nation.

In addition to being Caribbean, the lands we were then opening up revealed to be a delicious Dominican Republic on the sidelines. For days and hundreds of kilometers, we didn't see a single resort or private beach.

Our exploration base was Casa Bonita, a family ecolodge nestled on the banks of the Cacao River.

And at the foot of the Sierra de Bahoruco, a lush mountain range part of the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that surrounded us.

On these days, sunrise after sunrise, we leave the lodge to Carretera 44 Barahona-Paraíso.

The Dominican Republic Bathing in Barahona, sunrise among coconut trees

Evening says goodbye to the province of Barahona and the Caribbean Sea.

This was the main road of the province, humble, but the successive curves and slopes, subject to the capricious relief of the mountains and the seashore, made adventurous, panoramic.

Stunning to match.

For the Caribbean Barahona Fora, in the Direction of Haiti

On these days, Señor Carlos, driver of the lodge, native of the region, the driver and guide at our disposal, takes us.

Good-natured, patient, conversational, Carlos knew the corners of the house like few others. He understood at a glance the type of scenarios and scenes we wanted to dedicate ourselves to.

The symbiosis that we formed with him and his role as a guide greatly contributed to the productive ease in which we quickly found ourselves.

Dawn after dawn, we descended the dirt ramp from the top that Casa Bonita occupied. As we passed the lodge's small den, an almost resident flock of ducks cawed as we passed. Carlos said goodbye to the guard and the birds. The ducks croaked back.

“They are always around here. They are already part of the life of those who are on duty there. As part of mine. And look, they've become more attached to us than many people!"

The ramp enters the road. To our right is a grassy baseball field. The field extends to the banks of the Cacau River, which we have crossed in the meantime and then crossed the people brothers of Baoruco Arriba and Baoruco Abajo.

We continued west, passing by Fudeco, Haiti, Bella Vista and La Ciénaga.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, San Rafael coconut grove

Small coconut forest right on the edge of the Caribbean Sea.

After this urbanized section, we wind our way through the forested bottom of the mountain, sometimes hidden in tropical vegetation, sometimes in communion with the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.

We crossed another bridge, this one, in a campaign style, the one at La Cienaga-San Rafael.

We continue above a coast that an unexpected headland makes more abrupt. On the other side of this cape, we discover a smooth and translucent bay.

Little by little, we return to the imminence of the sea, separated from the green of the mountain by a thin line of coral sand.

The Bathing Dominican Republic of Barahona

Very tropical view of San Rafael beach.

In the meantime, counting the time of the journey and the time of several stops, we had entered the morning in earnest.

At first, almost deserted, the road started to admit more and more cars and carripans, pick ups and even some buses. Unexpected traffic intrigues us. “Calm down, go see where everyone is going! We're almost there,” Carlos assures us.

After another few hundred meters, we are forced to stop.

The Popular Fluvial Refuge of Balneario San Rafael

The road had narrowed. Indifferent, several pick ups improvised parking lots. A mini-bus rehearsed an irreverent U-turn.

Carlos knew that chaos well. “My friends, this is only going to get worse. If we cannot beat them, we join them. Let's do one thing: you leave right here and continue forward. I'll park as close as I can.”

We were at the entrance to the San Rafael spa. The place is considered special. It is revered at the same time by a crowd that worships the beach, the sun, the thermal waters and, in case such excuses do not serve, the famous Dominican rumba.

Over time, the San Rafael spa and its semi-aquatic binges became popular.

So famous that busloads of people from the capital Santo Domingo began to flow there, eager to clear their minds from the stresses of the week's work.

Without compromises or rival plans, we join the bandwagon.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, tables in San Rafael

Convivas share plastic tables in the San Rafael spa.

Just below the road, the most anxious part of us colonized the rounded and thick sand, almost rocky, of the beach. Certain guests drank beers.

Others had sunk into the water. They savored the soft, warm swell of the Caribbean Sea.

Ahead, the newly disembarked platoon of vehicles had already spread across a completely different scene.

A Pleasurable Life on the Terraces of the San Rafael River

Right there, one of the several rivers that descended from the mountain range, the São Rafael, drained. In its last meters, it flowed in a cascade mode.

Through a long sequence of terraces, each one, its pool of fresh and crystal clear water.

Dozens of bars and restaurants and a series of complementary stalls and stalls have adjusted to it.

These prolific businesses serve everything from drinks to the most popular Dominican snacks.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, grilled

A restaurant maid controls the grilling in a smoky and improvised kitchen.

As we wander through the terraces along the river, we taste and experience a little of everything, from the perspective of bathers customers and from the perspective of merchant families engaged in a myriad of culinary tasks.

At the entrance, a lady grates coconuts after coconuts, scraping them on a large, aged metal grater.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, grated coconut

A cook grates coconuts next to one of the restaurants in the San Rafael resort.

Soon, we invaded a kitchen adapted to four rough walls, covered with a bamboo roof darkened by greasy smoke.

The hustle and bustle we encountered there only speeds up the process.

Beer, Rum and Countless Dominican Snacks

two young women fry croutons (banana slices).

They are passed on to platters, like sides of the fried fish they are about to serve.

The Dominican Republic Bathing in Barahona, tostones

Cooks have just prepared tostones in one of the various restaurants in the San Rafael resort.

We moved to another walled establishment.

This one, for a change, is occupied only by men, who are busy cutting slices of lime and shaping the fish to which citrus fruits are supposed to lend flavor.

Aside from the restaurants, there is another advanced line of gastronomy, equipped with empanadas, quipos and an array of pastry more or less salty and spicy.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, snack stands

A row of Dominican snack stands serves the bathers of the San Rafael resort.

The rumba and, above all, the reggaeton that sounds great entertain diners scattered along the river.

And on tables covered by hut hats, unnecessary, given the shade provided by the leafy trees above.

Between dives, splashes and other acrobatics, amidst frantic jokes and endless jokes, the happy Dominican customers flock, stock up and feed the unstoppable festive dynamics of the weekend.

The Dominican Republic Bathing in Barahona, river bathers

Bathers refresh themselves in the water of San Rafael's terraced river.

A Fascinating Photographic Incursion

We wander and observe. We mess with Dominicans, no matter how hard we try, like the foreign body to the party we are.

One after another, groups of guests notice the cameras, challenge us to make art of them.

We pass two friends who share a beer Presidential the big ones, leaning against a bar that made out of a window frame as a counter.

The Dominican Republic Bathing in Barahona, beer

Friends share a great Presidential beer at the counter of a bar in the San Rafael resort.

The security and the smiles of both attract us. And the eccentricity of the beach lace they used, in an almost absolute transparency, over their gaudy bikinis dazzles us.

Alexandra and Carina recruit them. They assume sexy calendar poses that make the bar owner laugh out loud.

Shot after shot, tip after tip, we contribute to its promotion among the growing crowd of spectators.

Simultaneously, we produce peculiar memories of that unique place in Barahona.

The Dominican Republic Bathing in Barahona, faith in Wifi

Customer helps himself to a Dominican Presidential beer, in a bar in San Rafael.

Without our being aware of it, we had been at Balneario San Rafael for hours.

From San Rafael Spa, in Search of Other Spas

We remember the itinerary that Mr. Carlos had shown us. We feel the urgency to get back to it.

From San Rafael, we recover the course of the west, of the fascinating Oviedo Lagoon and neighboring Haiti.

The Dominican Republic Bathing in Barahona, tropical tour

Resident walks along the seafront in the San Rafael area.

Back on the road, we stopped next to huge multicolored letters that announced and classified the nearest city and coastal view of jungle and beach below: “PARAISO”.

Others, similar, would follow.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, Soggy Biker

Smiling young bather prepares to leave Los Patos bathhouse still wet.

As we saw it, the province of Barahona was, in fact, an Eden of Dominican happiness and genuineness. We decided to go through it until exhaustion.

Carlos takes us to another stop that assured us of merit.

The Dominican Republic Bathing in Barahona, Los Patos colores

Passengers in excess of a motorbike speeding in front of the introductory sign for Los Patos.

Los Patos: Prodigious spa and one of the Shortest Rivers in the World

We bumped into Los Patos, town and a spa that competes with San Rafael, although more contained, similar to the homonymous river.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, ducks from Los Patos

A child gives bread to the ducks that always swim in Los Patos.

At just 61 meters, Los Patos is the shortest in the Dominican Republic. And one of the smallest in the world.

When we got to the bridge over the river and started shooting, we unleashed a whole display of acrobatic jumps into the translucent lagoon.

The Dominican Republic Bathing in Barahona, diving

Bathers indulge in acrobatics and conversations at the Los Patos spa.

As we shoot, teens are motivated to move past their previous dives. They make us more elaborate and riskier.

They douse the scattered groups of bathers in the emerald green below, some standing, others floating on airlocks, buoys and gaudy inflatable mattresses.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, Balneario Los Patos

The resort of Los Patos is full of bathers from this part of the province of Barahona.

Instead of irritating them, the exhibitionist acrobatics of the young people awaken their eyes to the interest we show in Los Patos, in its spa, in its people.

Sometimes, like a music festival, to the rhythm of the Reggaeton, bathers wave their hands to one side and the other.

Thus, they make up an incredible photographic and choreographic tribute to the authentic Dominican Republic and the Caribbean that few visitors have the privilege of knowing.

The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, silhouette trio

Three friends enjoy the last rays of sunlight at the Los Patos resort.

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The (very alive) Dominican Republic Dead Sea

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