From Cabo Rojo the road devolves into dirt past a series of meagre Haitian beach shacks to the tiny seaside cave settlement known as Las CuevasRancho Cueva (753-8058) is a shaded beachfront restaurant and bar that also runs boat trips (RD$2000 for return boat, up to six people) direct to Bahía de las Águilas, the crown jewel of beaches on the Jaragua peninsula, which is the easiest way to get out there. Even if you don’t want to head out that far the beach here is pretty magnificent itself, and away from the restaurant you’re unlikely to find a single other soul.

Bahía de las Águilas is spectacular, unspoiled and seemingly endless, in large part because it’s smack-bang in the middle of the most inaccessible national park in the country. As there’s very little shade it’s advisable to bring an umbrella or something comparable. Pure white sand with the consistency of flour rings the rocky karst landscape for over 20km, and even with the new boat service there are typically no more than ten people for each of those kilometres. There’s a small national park outpost 2km before the beach where you’re required to pay a RD$50 park entrance fee, and it’s possible to camp out here, although there are no facilities to speak of so bring your own food and supplies from Pedernales.

Just off the water is Isla Beata, a large uninhabited island that has a good variety of birdlife along it and some amazing beaches. There’s no way to get here on your own, but Eco-Tour Barahona does regular day-trips out here, and can be convinced to arrange overnight camping.

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