Paraiso is a small coastal town on the southern edge of the island about a 4 hour drive from Santo Domingo. Highway 2 hits Paraiso after going through Bani, Azua and Barahona. The town itself feels small but bustling with a bizarre but fascinating scene of zooming motorcycles and trucks outfitted with massive speaker systems blasting music late into the night. The beach at Paraiso is a long, gorgeous white pebble stretch. The scene is marred though with splines of trash. The waterfront right at the town center, where the square sits, has a nasty shore-break and does not appear safe for swimming.
A few kilometers down the highway is Los Patos beach, which is more accommodating of the beach tourist and light sleeper alike. This area also has a stunning white pebble beach, but it comes with a nice boardwalk instead of trash piles and deep turquoise waters great for ocean swimming. Behind the main beach is a natural swimming hole (a flowing freshwater lagoon) with little stands that sell beer, fried meats and cheap fry bread. Local tourists fill the swimming hole and swim at the beach in the afternoons.
Despite being high season, December 2016, the whole area was surprisingly free of western tourists; we didn't meet a single native English speaker during our stay. There were no western style restaurants and very few English speakers despite the remarkably beautiful beaches and easy-going beach lifestyle of the locals. Be prepared for no western amenities. Los Patos also included a unique, insanely loud music scene with cars and vans converted to mobile speaker-boxes but unlike Paraiso the music calmed down at night here. From a short glance it looks as though these towns party hard.
All in all Paraiso city was not worth a stay for the western beacher but Los Patos just down the road is a gem that offers a great couple beach days off the grid and a true local experience. This is also a great jumping off point on the way to Bahia de las Aguilas.
Paraiso is the hub for a large area of surrounding land. Los Patos beach is a few kilometers away from the center of Paraiso's main square.
Bus and car are the two ways to get into Paraiso.
Renting a car in Santo Domingo and driving is a straightforward option if you can handle the roads and driving styles. From Santo Domingo exit town to the West on either of the cities major highways (what are labeled highway "2" and highway "6") and continue west. You need to eventually get to highway 2 (more detailed directions than what is listed here will be needed, an offline GPS is very nice to have). Once on highway 2 follow signs to Bani, Azua and Barahona. Go through Bani, then Azua and then finally Barahona before arriving at Paraiso. The full trip should take about 4 hours. Barahona is the largest of the cities you will go through on the way and is about 40 minutes away from Paraiso.
The area is relatively small. Within Paraiso or Los Patos everythign is walkable but getting between the two would either require a car or a quick bus or taxi ride. If you're feeling up for it there are moto-taxis zooming around everywhere at all hours.
The beech at Los Patos and the swimming hole directly behind it are the main attractions in this area.
There are not typical western beach activities here. Enjoying the long pebble beach in the sun, the swimming hole with good local foods and the loud street parties at night appear to be the options. There are several small active fishing boats along the water and fishermen spend the afternoons cleaning fish; there might me an opportunity for a fishing excursion.
Not a hub for wares or souvenirs
There is a main gazebo bar and corner store selling beer in the central square at Paraiso where loud parties fill the night. Large (1 liter) Presidente beers cost US $2.
In Los Patos several small bars line the inland side of the main street. One has an outdoor pool table. During the day get beers at the swimming hole or from a local market.
Vista Sur in the center of town is reasonably priced and decent. US $25 / night in 2016
Regular buses traverse the main road back to Santo Domingo. Driving back by car is as straightforward as getting out, take the main highway 2 through Barahona, then Azua, then Bani and back into Santo Domingo.
If going on to Bahia de los Aguias, or on to anything at the Haiti side of the island go the opposite way on highway 2 toward Pedernales