While I was in Cabarete, my amazing boyfriend contacted to tell me to keep a couple of days free the following week for when I would be back in Santo Domingo. When I asked him why, he told me it was because he was going to take me to Bahia de las aguilas. I was over the moon excited as this is the most famously beautiful beach of the entire island. It is the most furthest away from anything, UNESCO protected, and has some of the bluest waters of any beach ever.
When I got home to Santo Domingo I was so excited about our upcoming trip. A couple of the people pulled out, but then it worked out that Nicolas, Camila, and Javier could come with us! So the 6 of us (plus a friend of Billy’s from work, Sarah) packed up everything we could possibly need to eat and sleep on the beach, got into the van at 4am, and slept while Billy drove us 7 hours towards the most South Western point of the country, just 20 minutes from the border to Haiti.
On the way we drove through some amazing countryside. At one point it really felt as if we were in the desert, and Nicolas loved it as he had spent much of his childhood in Africa.
The closer we got to the beach, the brighter the blue became.
The restaurant at the point where you take the boat around to the bay was beautiful. The view out over the water was incredible, and no camera will ever do justice to the colours of the sea.
We climbed up to the top of the cliff and looked out over the different bays.
The view at the top was absolutely incredible, the colours were brighter than any colour I had ever even imagined
And then we returned back to the restaurant where they told us the prices of the boat trip to Bahia de las aguilas.
We were in shock, there was no way we were going to pay the price they were asking when it is usually just 100 pesos – they were asking $40USD per person! Luckily, I had done just a teeny tiny little bit of research online and remembered reading that there was a road, not a wonderful one, but there was road access. We ditched the guys at the restaurant after I told them they were idiots as they had lost us buying 2 meals of lunch for 6 there over 2 days, paying for the return trip boat ride, and the money we were going to pay to sleep on their balcony. Considering there was no other people anywhere near the beach, the restaurant, or what felt like that entire part of the planet, I cannot understand why they did not try to make a better deal with us! However, we then headed around to the other side where the fishermen were and the less fancy restaurants. We asked about the boats, and they said there were none running. I cheekily asked about the road and the man looked us over and then pointed towards the gate. I asked if he thought our van would make it, he nodded and asked if we had paid the entrance fee for the national park (100 pesos). I said we had (we had) and he opened the gate and let us through! We were able to drive with all of our things, right to the beach of Bahia de las aguilas, saving us about $300 to go about 5km, you can imagine how pleased we all were!
We met a family who Billy spoke to, and she encouraged us to go and speak with her husband who was in charge of turtle conservation. My ears pricked up when I heard the word turtles, and my eyes sparkled when I saw the sign saying that the areas of the sand were protecting turtle eggs. The lady told us where to go to find the man in charge, and sure enough we found him at his large turtle tower – which we labelled the penthouse.
The biew from the top of the pent house was pretty spectacular too!
We spoke with him at length and got on very well with him. He told us that it is not allowed to sleep on the beach because of the turtles nesting at night. But because he could see we were good people, he would let us sleep in the penthouse. He also promised he would return that night and take us to see the turtles nesting. We enjoyed the whole day at the beach, because of our early departure we were at the beach by 11am!
We snorkelled (I taught Camila how to snorkel) and we swam for ages with the fish
We got to see the amazing giant star fish that I had so desperately wanted to see at Isla Saona. Billy swam down and picked them up for me so I could have some pictures with them.
The beach was just so amazing, no one could even believe where we were
Billy and I went off for a walk by ourselves, running along the sand, searching for giant shells, swimming together where it felt like we were the only two people in a world of brilliant blue
We watched the sun slip into the Caribbean sea as we drank rum from the bottle - just like pirates!!
We ate fresh fish, salad, and rice on the beach that was delivered to us by Ignacio, the turtle carer. He returned after dark, and with bottles of rum in hand – the hunt for the turtles began.
We must have walked up and down the beach 10 or 15 times, each time searching for tracks in the sand where the turtles would have made their way up to the dunes to dig and lay their eggs. We couldn’t find anything, and there was even a time where Billy and I curled up together on the sand for a wee nap while we waited. We had codes and signals with the special torches we were using, so that we wouldn’t need to call or scream to each other to gather attention. But there was no sign of the special codes, just darkness all around.
At about 2am, we decided to give it one last try. Camila went to sleep and decided she wasn’t going to search anymore. I looked at the others who were desperate to see one, and I felt that little voice inside me say; go on Katy, one last chance. So we walked further than we had before and Billy and I lagged quite a way behind the others. A couple of times we heard a really strange noise, but figured it was something up in the trees behind the sand. We caught up to the others and all settled down for a nap, we set an alarm to wake us up to have one last try as we walked back in an hour.
On the way back we were all very tired and disappointed, we had been so determined. It looked as if the storm in the distance and the fact that the moon had set early was putting the turtles off from coming to shore – or so we thought. Suddenly, we saw Igancio’s torch giving the signal as he told us there was something nearby. We searched the beach as best we could – no lights and no moon was making it very difficult. And then we saw it, what I had thought was a giant boulder began to flap and move around!
I had been expecting turtles of 30cm in size, I didn’t realise that what I was seeing even existed – 900 kilogram leatherback turtles!
After we saw the first one, we realised there was another one nearby which was even larger. She was obviouosly more experienced as she had found herself a much better place on the beach. Ignacio explained to us how there cannot be any water in the holes the turtles dig or the eggs will not survive. Sadly what was once the most common turtle in the world, found all over the planet except for in the poles, is now bordering on extinction. Many people here in the Dominican Republic eat their eggs for aphrodisiac purposes, and the turtles are dying in the ocean because they confuse plastic for their favourite meal of jellyfish. Because of this reason, Ignacio carried with him a shotgun in case he encountered anyone on the beach trying to steal the eggs. We did our best to keep quiet and not let our excitement brew over too far as to disturb the turtles. We desperately wanted to watch until they laid their eggs and swam back out to sea, but we could sense that we were watching something private and that the huge mission that the mother turtles were embarking on was already stressful enough. The last thing they needed was a bunch of young travellers watching on, regardless of our good intentions.
Ignacio checked for their tags, as each turtle has a tracking tag so that their mileage can be recorded for a range of different purposes. One of the turtles wasn’t named so Sarah quickly decided it would be Tallulah. As we walked away and bid farewell to the giant reptiles, we realised there was a third one about 200 meters away! We couldn’t believe our luck.
When we got back to the penthouse, we woke up Camila and told her she had to go and have a look. Ignacio raced off on his motorbike and picked up his wife and small daughter, returning to show them the three turtles as well. Camila went off with them, and I am so glad she did because I really feel that it was something that we will never have the chance to do again.
We all slept together up in the pent house. I was so grateful Billy and I had bought two giant duvets (we usually sleep under them with the air-conditioning on full blast at home), as it was really cold due to the wind blowing. We snuggled up and kept warm but I think the others were quite chilly.
The next morning was pretty amazing to wake up to such an amazing view
We all had a quick swim, some breakfast, and spent a little more time staring out at the most beautiful beach we had ever seen before deciding to make our way back to the city slowly. We stopped at the river at Los Patos beach for a fresh water swim to wash away the salt and sand.
Billy had told us about a place where there was a magnetic pole. Apparently we could go there, turn the car off, and the magnet would force the car to go up hill.
We drove all the way there, and sure enough he was right!
Except we started to realise it wasn’t really a hill… it was more of a flat road with a very strange gradient and a peculiar trick to the eye…
After some very basic science tests, we realised that we had been Dominican scammed again – it was not a magnetic pole, rather what is known by google as a gravity hill! Oh how we all laughed and laughed! It was such a great way to end our amazing adventure at the most beautiful beach in the entire world.
And thank you to my amazing Billy for taking me to paradise, I love you x