- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
Bayahibe, try as it might, simply hasn’t lifted itself up to the gold star status of Punta Cana’s reputation in the tourism industry. A fair amount of construction and marketing went into the endeavor over the years to encourage visitor flow to this part of the country. Still, the deals in the all-inclusive resorts here remain better than those in the Punta Cana and Bávaro branches.
That being said, choosing a hotel here could come down simply to where you get the best deal because they are all competing for your business. Don’t count out the budget options in town either. If you don’t plan on spending a lot of time in your room, they are perfectly viable solutions to an economical vacation since they are clean and well maintained. Be specific if you want air-conditioning or not; there is a few dollars difference in price at the budget hotels.
Within town, there are many options within walking distance of one another.
Hotel Bayahibe (Calle Principal, tel. 809/833-0159, www.hotelbayahibe.net, reservations [at] hotelbayahibe [dot] net, US$40 d with breakfast) is the best bet in the budget category and has been a mainstay in Bayahibe for the independent traveler. Reservations are essential, particularly in peak season, as it tends to fill up quickly. There are 25 rooms, and all are equipped with hot-water bathrooms, air-conditioning, TV, phone, and refrigerator. Some have a kitchenette, which is great if you don’t plan to dine out every meal. Rooms on the lower floor can be noisy, so if possible, request one on the top floor. Hotel Bayahibe is best for access to the sea and dive centers, and it offers free beach towels. They have their own restaurant, Don Negro Restaurant, which serves breakfast and dinner with a Creole and international menu. This hotel is the best of the budget options.
Cabañas Francisca (Calle Segunda, Bayahibe, tel. 809/556-2742, US$21 d) is next to the Hotel Bayahibe. You can get a very basic room for quite cheap. Request air-conditioning for a few dollars more. You will have cable TV, a refrigerator, and your own bathroom, but no hot water (time to hone your speedy shower skills).
Cabaña Trip Town (Calle Principal, no phone, US$24 d with air-conditioning, US$21 d without air-conditioning) is across from the Hotel Bayahibe. Parking is available for this pink and white 14-cabana hotel. All rooms have two beds (one double and one single). The maximum number of people allowed in a room is three, but you pay the same rate as you would if it were just two. Rooms have their own hot-water bathroom and TV. The ocean is a two-minute walk.
Villa Iguana (Bayahibe, tel. 809/833-0203, cell 809/757-1059, www.villaiguana.de, US$39 d) is a German-owned hotel associated with the scuba excursion company Scubafun. Together, they offer dive and accommodation packages. In the hotel, there are seven standard rooms (with private bath, air-conditioning, fridge, and safe) and three apartments (with kitchenette, private bath, one bedroom, an extra bed for a third person in the living room, and a safe; some have balconies). There is one penthouse suite available, which occupies the entire fourth floor; you can enjoy your ocean view, air-conditioning, fridge, private bath, private pool, outdoor living room, and sun deck for only US$69! All rooms are very clean and a good value.
If neither low-budget options nor mega-complex resorts appeal to you, Cabaña Elke (Av. Eladia, Dominicus Americanus, tel. 809/689-8249, www.viwi.it, room US$65 d, apartment US$80 d) might be perfect. Although not in the town of Bayahibe, it is near the beach of Dominicus, just south of town. Guests enjoy clean accommodations (either standard rooms or apartment style), a pool, bar, and restaurant (for lunch and dinner only). Apartments have a sitting area, kitchenette, and a loft bedroom and face the garden and pool area. This is a hotel to escape to since there are no phones or televisions in the rooms. A plus to Cabaña Elke is that it is directly behind the Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach resort, so Elke guests can purchase a day pass to the swanky Wyndham grounds for US$40 a day, thereby enjoying the best beach in the area without having to commit to the giant all-inclusive style or price.
US$100 and Up
In the last 10 years, all-inclusive resorts have begun to sprout up near the town of Bayahibe; prior to that, most all-inclusives in this region were relegated to the Punta Cana/Bávaro area. But with the popularity of this type of vacation package, coupled with the pristine beauty of the beaches near Bayahibe, these plush resorts can’t help but be manicured, luxurious, and pampering. After all, they are all fighting for your business and the competition is stiff.
The surreal part of it is that in this all-inclusive rat race, they can end up like cookie-cutter replicas offering accommodations and amenities similar to one another. Most resorts’ rooms have two double beds or a king-size bed, minibar, air-conditioning, fan, hair dryer, iron, cable TV, phone, hot-water bathrooms, and terrace. In-room security boxes are available, but usually for an extra charge. And as with most things in the Dominican Republic, if you tip your chambermaid you’re likely to get better service such as more towels in your bathroom or a fully stocked minibar refrigerator.
Prices for all-inclusives in this section are based on double occupancy of a standard room per night in high season. Traveling in low season will reduce the cost. If wheelchair accessibility is a priority for your room, make reservations far in advance as many only have a few rooms specifically designed to suit your needs.
Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus (Playa Dominicus, Dominicus Americanus, tel. 809/688-3600 or 888/923-2722, fax 809/221-0921, www.iberostar.com, US$150 d), about five kilometers south of Bayahibe, has one of the best beaches around, complete with a lively lighthouse bar right on the sand. The impressively luxurious lobby is the tip-off for the extreme comfort of the entire resort. The grounds are perfectly maintained, where flamingos and peacocks wander around the many fountains and tropical foliage. There are five restaurants (one buffet and four à la carte) to choose from, a variety of bars (including a disco for nighttime entertainment), three swimming pools (plus one kiddie pool), various shops, and nightly entertainment in the resort’s theater.
Amenities include Internet access, health care, massage (extra charge), fitness room, water sports (kayaking, snorkeling, and windsurfing are available with free equipment), and daytime poolside entertainment. Hacienda Dominicus has almost 500 rooms, all of which are very comfortable (huge showers, too!) and meet the high demands of their growing American clientele. It claims five-star hotel quality, and indeed gives you most everything you need. However, the food is where the five-star claim gets only a bit exaggerated. Despite the number of restaurants to choose from, the choices can get a bit repetitious if you are there for longer than a week.
Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa (Playa Bayahibe, tel. 809/221-8880, www.dreamsresorts.com, starting at US$189 d) is a confusing name for the location, but this is situated on Playa Bayahibe. This is the recently upgraded Sunscape Casa del Mar Resort. With the changing of the guard came significant changes in style. The rooms are wonderfully appointed, huge, clean, and modern with flat-screen TVs, wireless Internet, luxurious bathrooms, and electronic safety box. The rooms are kept very clean and have turn-down service. There are nine restaurants on-site, including the casual World Café, serving international fare, and the restaurant Bordeaux, for adults only, which is a candlelit romance-inspiring French venue.
There are three spas on-site for added relaxation, and they offer a full range of body treatments as well as cedar saunas, indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pools, steam rooms, reflexology therapies, and a spa boutique. Can’t stand the idea of missing football while you’re away? American football fans will be pleased to know that Dreams has a Monday Night Football beach party. Tailgating never felt like this. A 10-meter screen is set up on the Caribbean sand, and you’re in a beach lounger (ice-cold beer in hand, of course) with all the American-favorite football foods, like wings, popcorn, burgers, and pizza—it’s definitely a unique way to watch football. The folks back home will be jealous! The resort has a full activity list for kids and teens too. Kids can play on the ocean trampoline, take part in a treasure hunt, have storytelling time, arts and crafts, and video games. The Core Zone Teen Club has late-night discos, weekly bonfires on the beach, snack bars that serve non-alcoholic drinks, and a rock climbing wall for starters. It truly is a place for the whole family.
In the 532-room Oasis Canoa (Playa Dominicus, tel. 809/682-2662, www.hotelesoasis.com, from US$150 d), you will find spacious rooms with all the comfortable amenities of an all-inclusive resort. This is a popular resort with the European traveler, so expect the food in the buffet to be more suited to their tastes and traditions. There are six restaurants (Italian and Tex Mex are among the specialties) and five bars, including a disco, where the music seems to pack more punch than the drinks. But it’s the beach that puts a happy smile on the guests’ faces. The water is a magnificently clear blue, and oddly enough, there’s not much of a fight for beach chairs. Other on-site amenities include tennis, scuba lessons, a full-service spa at extra charge, baby-sitting service, fitness center, and all nonmotorized water sports, which are included in the cost of your stay. There is also a spa. Children under the age of five stay free.
The Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach (Playa Dominicus, Dominicus Americanus, tel. 809/686-5658, www.vivaresorts.com, starting at US$190 d) and its sister resort, the Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace (Playa Dominicus, Dominicus Americanus, tel. 809/686-5658, www.vivaresorts.com, starting at US$230 d), share a glorious three-kilometer expanse of Bayahibe beach, perhaps the best of the area. It is big enough so that the lively events (volleyball, beach aerobics, and merengue) happening at one end of the beach won’t disturb your hard-earned afternoon siesta under the hundreds of palm trees.
The bigger of the two, Dominicus Beach, has a whopping 530 rooms available as standard, superior, or bungalows. Aside from the fantastic beach, there are three pools and four diverse restaurants, four bars, daily and nightly entertainment, a supervised kids’ club, dive center, and many sports (four tennis courts, a basketball court, and even a soccer field) and activities to squelch any boredom that might occur. Guests of Dominicus Beach can use the spa at Dominicus Palace for an additional fee. Take your own snorkel gear, though; the hotel doesn’t rent the equipment out because there aren’t any sections of water blocked off for snorkelers and boats tend to speed by carelessly. The reef is beautiful nonetheless, and worth the effort if you play it safe. The Dominicus Beach is very popular with the Italian travelers, so it has a livelier atmosphere, and dressing up at night is common.
Dominicus Palace is the smaller of the two sister properties, with just 330 rooms within several colonial-style buildings and one pool. Seven restaurants offer many choices, including the open-air, oceanfront buffet where the cuisine is served up accompanied by a refreshing breeze rolling in from the Caribbean Sea. Not a bad way to wake up in the morning. Also on-site are two bars, a disco, a spa, dive center, tour desk, a kids’ club, and entertainment programs.
Dominicus Palace offers a full-service spa. You have full access to facilities at Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach and its amenities, such as the lighted tennis courts and multiple pools, just a stroll in the sand away.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition