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114km (71 miles) E of Santo Domingo, 37km (23 miles) E of San Pedro de Macoris

On the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, La Romana was once a sleepy sugar-cane town that specialized in cattle raising. Visitors didn't come near the place, but when Gulf + Western Inc. opened a luxurious tropical paradise resort, the Casa de Campo, about 1.5km (1 mile) east of town, La Romana soon began drawing the jet set. It's the finest resort in the Dominican Republic, and especially popular among golfers.

Just east of Casa de Campo is Altos de Chavón, a charming and whimsical copy of what might have been a fortified medieval village in Spain, southern France, or Italy. It's the country's leading sightseeing attraction.

Off the coast of La Romana lies Isla Catalina, which attracts divers and snorkelers, though there are no facilities. It is mainly uninhabited, so bring whatever you need, including fresh water. The tour desks of Casa de Campo or other hotels can arrange excursions, although nothing is organized into a central agency for bookings. Catalina lies only 3.5km (2 1/4 miles) south of La Romana but 18km (11 miles) west of Bayahibe.

Bayahibe is a relatively new tourist development that's a lot more famous and more heavily patronized with Italian, French, Spanish, and, to a lesser extent, British and Canadian groups than it has been, until now, with American clients. Launched onto the world's consciousness in the early 1990s, it didn't become "important" until around 2000. There's no village center, no monumental architecture, not even a permanent settlement here: only a sea-fronting road with some mega-hotels on the sea-fronting side, each facing a sandy beach.

The location of Bayahibe is 30km (19 miles) directly east of La Romana. Playa Bayahibe, its lovely sandy beach, is what put this emerging resort on the tourist map.

You might negotiate with a boat owner at the beach or ask at your hotel if the staff can arrange for a fisherman to the offshore island, Isla Saona, which has some good sandy beaches beset by sand flies and some fishermen's cottages.