Of course an island nation that straddles the Caribbean and the Atlantic is going to be known for its beaches. And as a Florida native with Caribbean blood, I have seen a fair share of amazing sandy stretches by the sea. But on my first full day in this southwest section of the island I found myself quickly upping the standards for my own definition of a ‘beautiful beach.’
The main attraction in this area of the country, and the entire reason behind our decision to visit the region, is Bahia de las Aguilas, or Bay of the Eagles. Largely hailed as one of the most isolated and beautiful beaches in the country, we found ourselves headed to the eagle bay on a mostly cloudy day and weren’t disappointed.
Saying it takes some time to get to Bahia de las Aguilas is a bit of an understatement. You’ll find this beach tucked inside Parque Nacional Jaragua, which means few population centers and fewer amenities. If you decide to take on this road trip make sure you hit the bathroom before headed into the park because trust me, it’s going to be a long time before you have another option. My bladder was so full by the time we had finally crossed the Peninsula de Pedernales and met the view of the calm, turquoise ocean of Cabo Rojo that the only observation I could muster was that this was the most beautiful toilet I’d ever seen.
And it only got better from there.
After a bathroom break at a military outpost near the port, we continued on to what was once a small fishing town – Las Cuevas. From here you have two options – drive a lengthy, unmaintained trail (4-wheel-drive only), or take a small boat to the Bahia. Since our van was far from 4-wheel-drive and we had heard from several others that the coast leading up to the bay was spectacular, we opted for the boat ride.
Our group of six fit easily into a single water taxi and we negotiated a good fare for a round-trip journey to the bay. The coast leading up to Bahia de las Aguilas was rocky and beautiful and did not disappoint. Even on this cloudy day the water sparkled in jewel tones of blue and turquoise. The ride was almost too short – before we knew it we were pulling up to a curved stretch of white sand beach. There was one other couple on the shore and outside of our boatman they were the only other humans we had to share this beautiful place with for the entire day.
Hours passed full of swimming, playing, sleeping, eating (we packed a picnic lunch and you should too, there are no amenities at the actual beach), and general beaching in our own private paradise. But a long drive home (it took us about 3 hours from our hotel 7 kms west of Paraiso) and rolling dark clouds signaled it was time to board the boat and head back to the real world. I’ve heard you can actually camp on the beach at Bahia de las Aguilas, and as we rode away I thought to myself that the next time I came to this isolated place it would be with sleeping bag in tow. How amazing would it be to see the reflection of twinkling stars in these crystal-like waters?
We had one more sea-side stop to make on the scenic drive back to El Rancho Platon. We only had minutes to spare at the beach in Los Patos as the sun was setting fast and we still had a long mountain road in front of us, but we could have easily spent an entire day on this unique beach. Here the ground is not made of pink or yellow or white sands, but of millions of polished stones. It does make walking a bit uncomfortable – so bring your water shoes – but the effect the stones create is well worth the extra effort. Not only are each of the pebbles beautiful and entirely different in color, shape, and pattern, they also amplify the sound of crashing waves that echoes down the beach in a slightly intimidating, if not strangely soothing roar.
I was sad to leave the place as I lingered behind my group to catch one last picture and collect a few of the smooth rocks. Waves stretching towards me, stones grabbing at my toes, I felt as if the beach itself was begging me to stay. But as the clouds turned silver and the sun fell low I knew it was time. There was still so much to see.