Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
I could tell instantly that this was a nice little spot the moment my guagua (minibus) pulled into town.
The town of Bayahibe is in a transitional phase from small and secluded to destination hot spot. From what I can tell the crowd that is drawn to this part of the island come mostly for the amazing scuba diving and snorkeling in these parts. I believe that the town closely boarders a large nature preserve in the far southeast corner of the country, keeping the wave-less, white sandy beaches, and wildlife intact (for the moment).
Bayahibe town roads are generally unimproved, and the harbor is full of boats of all different shapes and sizes—many of which seem to be tailored to scuba excursions to the tow nearby islands. There's also a huge upscale all-inclusive resort up the way (sitting on what must be two-dozen acres) that has a lot of security to keep the riffraff (like me) from partaking in their beach and meeting their guests.
I jumped off the guagua in the late afternoon and asked my driver for a suggestion on a cheap place to stay. I was tossed to another guy who lead me to a home a few hundred yards off the main drag. Unfortunately, she didn't have a room that nor could she offer up any worthwhile suggestions for another guesthouse. So, as is my usual fashion, I started walking around the innards of the small town.
I quickly stumbled across another game of dominoes being played casually on the road. I queried the group about accommodations and received a favorable response from one of the players.
After a little friendly bargaining I ended up renting a one room/one bath guesthouse a few yards from the domino game for $16 a night (confirming later from an American local that this was a good price for the peak season). Mind you, there's no hot water (not that I've had any since I left Puerto Rico), but I love being nestled inside the town. The people are friendly and the area is safe.
One of the simple pleasures that I love to indulge in is sneaking into plush hotels and using their facilities (beach access, lounge chairs, pool, etc); however, this was the first time I've ever found myself past security and inside an all-inclusive resort!
I held out for an hour or two before I started roaming and discovered the beach bar. There were plenty of people rolling up and ordering—no room number required! I was inside the castle walls, and decided to indulge in a drink… and then another. OK, I had quite a few by the time the sun was setting (including a quick jaunt to one of the restaurants for a buffet style meal). Once I had a picture of myself inside the complex, all I needed was a little Spanish and my camera to push past the checkpoints.
Was it bad of me to spend two full days at the resort? Of Course! Would I do it again? Absolutely!
I decided to stay here in Bayahibe for four nights, then leaving for Santo Domingo on the 15th (where I'll spend my last night in the country). I've got a flight on the 16th taking me to The Port of Spain, in Trinidad. Apparently a requirement for entry into Trinidad and Tobago is an onward ticket/flight to another country—something that I don't have. I'm going to try and sidestep the requirement by printing out a faux flight plan back to the States around the first of February.
I'm really enjoying bouncing back and forth between beach and city life. At the moment, I can really only do one or the other for about a half a week before I start to get antsy (to relocate).
I'm also very excited to be meeting up with two people from the Sates in Trinidad! My friend Rose, a firefighter from Portland, will be joining me for 10 days. A few days after her arrival I'll meet up with Andy (the hobotraveler), currently in his 9th year of continuous travel, for the first time.
Through his Web site and other correspondence, Andy have given me some amazing insight and tips, as well as being a notable point of inspiration for extended travel abroad.
Trinidad and Tobago is going to be great.