Getty Images/iStockphoto

Península de Pedernales

The Península de Pedernales contains some outstanding natural attractions: the sublime beach at Bahía de Las Águilas, super-salty Laguna Oviedo, Parque Nacional Jaragua, the cloud forest of Cachóte and world-class birdwatching in the Parque Nacional Sierra de Bahoruco. Despite all this, tourism in this part of the country is surprisingly low.

The peninsula was originally a separate island, but tectonic movement pushed it north and upward into Hispaniola, closing the sea channel that once ran from Port-au-Prince to Barahona and creating many of the unique geographical features you see today.

The southwest is the best place on the island to go birdwatching, as you can see nearly all Hispaniola's endemic species here. At last count, there were roughly 310 known species of bird in the DR and 32 endemic bird species on the island. Half of these are migratory, making winter the best time to spot them.