There’s a small town in the Dominican Republic’s southwest called Los Patos, where water from a river in the nearby Bahoruco Mountain Range flows in and forms a freshwater lagoon–and a lovely swimming hole–before meeting up with and joining forces with the Caribbean Sea.
Los Patos: Where the River Meets the Sea
It’s a magical sort of place, especially if you arrive early, because of the light and the colors. And the feeling of being in a mini paradise. Because of the Caribbean and the sky, there are perhaps as many as 100 shades of blue. There are also some lovely shades of green.
I’ve seen some gorgeous water before, but I must say there was something about this that really blew me away. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a bit off the beaten path–not too many tourists make it to this part of the country. Or maybe it was that my friend Ely and I had the beach to ourselves.
Eventually, on weekends, tourists do arrive and it gets a bit crowded (but it’s still lovely). They’re mostly Dominican families (I only saw one or two foreigners, whom I imagined were ex-pats). If you go during the week, however, you’ll have the place to yourself. This is what I recommend, of course.
100 Shades of Blue
I don’t know how many shades of blue I saw at Los Patos, but I know there were many. How many do you see?
Can You Swim There?
Yes and no. You can swim in the lagoon. It’s cool and clear and very refreshing. The beach facing the Caribbean, however, is pebbly and thus, the water is hard to enter (unless you have special shoes). You definitely don’t go barefoot there. I’m not sure you swim in the water, either (although I saw people doing it further up north on Rt. 44 where there was a sandy spot). Some say it’s “rough.”
Although I love to swim in the sea, I was happy (in this case) to simply look at it.
Worth the Effort? Would You Go?
Have you been to the DR? Did you make it over to Los Patos and the Southwest? Would you go if you had the chance? As I’ve mentioned, it’s a bit of work to get there. (See info below.)
Would You Prefer a Soft-Sand Beach?
Not everyone can deal with a pebbly beach. Most people want soft sand. And truthfully, I did crave that, too. Fortunately, I had it several days later–when I went further down Rt. 44 and even more off the beaten path. (Post coming soon.)
Would you avoid a lovely beach like this because you can’t walk on the sand barefoot?
How to Get There
Head south on Rt. 44 after you pass through Barahona. First, you’ll past through the town called Paraíso. Then, minutes later, you’ll be in Los Patos (you’ll see it on your left.) Barahona is about 3.5 hours or so from Santo Domingo.
Your best bet is a guagua–a mini van (I’m not sure if large buses pass by). You can catch one anywhere along Rt. 44, heading from Barahona to Perdernales or vice versa. Sometimes you’ll see a few in a row; other times, you won’t see any for 1/2 an hour.
Just flag one down and make sure you get a real seat. At one point, I had to sit like a hunchback. The price: about $1, I think (I can’t quite remember.) If you’re coming from Santo Domingo, you’ll need to take a bus (large size recommended) to Barahona first (3.5 hours). Then it can be another 40-60 minutes from there by guagua.
It’s free, believe it or not. If you have a car, you have to pay for parking. Otherwise, just show up and enjoy.
There are some stands running along the lagoon, and I think that most are good. I, however, ate at just one of them–the one owned by Papo and Amantina, some locals I got to know. If you stop by, ask for Papo’s stand and then order some Dominican Moro De Habichuelas Negras (rice and beans) with coco (coconut). It’s rico–delicious!