Quemaito, a 10-minute drive from Barahona, is a beautifully quiet beach with calm turquoise waters accentuated by the brilliantly white round pebbles of the beach. Next stop along is the most thriving beach of them all, San Rafael, with its long stretch of pebble beach crested by the forested mountains that arch strikingly up to the sky. It is not just the soul-wrenchingly picturesque shores, with their small coconut-bark thatch huts, that make this part of the island the most attractive. The hills that stretch back all the way from the coast into Haiti are seething with life.
True coffee lovers should take a trip up to Polo nestled in the peaks far behind San Rafael, although to reach it one must take the road to Cabral on the Santo Domingo-Barahona road. On the way up stop off at Polo Magnetic, a small stretch of road where round objects, wheels of your car included, seem to role up the hill. This optical illusion confounds both the eye and the stomach.Finally,here’s a tip for home-cooked Dominican food: catch a 10-minute motorbike taxi (motoconcho) from Barahona to the village of La Hoya. At the entrance to the village there is a small light-green coconut-bark house on the banks of an ox-bow lake where the proprietor, Daisy, serves up the best true Dominican food to be found in the whole region.