Around 30 years ago now, Cabarete was discovered by the Canadian windsurfer Jean Laporte claiming it as the new perfect place to windsurf. A quiet bay back then, Cabarete developed into an established wind sports mecca with a laid back Latin vibe loved by wind enthusiasts from all over the world.
Situated on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, Cabarete is known for its reliable winds, warm climate (you can literally live and kite in board shorts!) and thriving friendly kite scene that won’t break your budget. There’s a good reason why I’ve probably spent at least 6 months of the past year living the dream in ‘Cab’.
The wind here is very social i.e. it will let you sleep off your hangovers and not start blowing until around midday. Then it will bless you until sundown taking you right up to beer o’clock!
The wind statistics for Kitebeach from the last 8 years shows the number of days each month with winds over 10 knots, 3.5 bft:
It’s also normally always blowing cross shore easterlies nice and steady (and warm too). I could go on about the wind but the best place for your wind stats, info and forecast can be found via Kitexcite (no need to re write all their guru wind wisdom).
In terms of season, technically there’s wind throughout Jan-Aug with a supposed dip in April/May and the summer months blow a bit stronger at 16-30 kts, having a higher % of windy days (see chart above). I’d say in the winter you can kite at least 4 days a week in around 20kts, the summer even more often, but of course nothing is guaranteed when it comes to wind (if only)!
There’s 2 main locations in Cab itself: main beach/Bozo beach (often choppier/sometimes gusty but loads of space), as well as kite beach (can be crowded but generally less choppy with stronger more stable winds).
Just outside of Cab you also have Encuentro surf beach to the west (great to downwind to), as well as La Boca (a butter flat river spot popular with the pro freestyle crew battling for their handle passing space!)
Generally Cab is twin tip/freestyle focused, but there are some nice waves too and the wave riders tend to have a decent amount of space.
Depending on where you are, there can be a beach break (La Boca mouth to Cab, as well as at ‘G-spot’ – ask locals about that one!), or a reef break (off Cab bay/kite beach bay and the main section of Encuentro). The waves are generally softer than in the deep Atlantic, but on big swells (up to 6m, averaging 2m in the wavier winter months) you can get perfect double overhead barrel waves and not too many riders to have to share them with!
At all the spots the wind is from the right so that means its frontside for the those who ride regular and backside for the goofy footers. Of course if you are just starting to learn to ride a surfboard, this won’t matter so much and you will find some perfect conditions to get you started.
By far the easiest airport with access to Cabarete is Puerto Plata (POP), just 20-30 mins taxi ride away.
Many international airlines service ‘POP’ and there are some really easy cheap short routes to take advantage of (Toronto and Miami for example). If coming from the UK for a 1 or 2 week break, then you can benefit from the cheap scheduled airlines with direct flights like Thomson offer. But always check for airline sports baggage policy as you may still get stung!
Make sure you are prepared knowing beforehand if you’ll need a visa, and armed with that knowledge and how much it is, visit the ‘tourist card’ machine (take the US$ equivalent for the fee) on the left hand wall before you get to passport control (thus skipping the often long line of package holiday tourists).
Taxis shouldn’t be more than $35 to Cabarete from Puerto Plata airport. See this other comprehensive guide for details on how to get to Cabarete from other DR airports (be warned before booking as other airports are up to a 9 hour drive away!)
Getting around locally
Taxis are often well overpriced and the best option for getting around on short distances is using ‘motoconchos’ (motorbike taxis). You’ll pretty much find motoconcho drivers offering you a ride wherever you go and it’s common to fit 3 or even 4 passengers to a bike with or without kite kit! Generally expect to pay 50 pesos per person for a ride from kite beach into Cabarete town. NB They’re probably the quickest and easiest, but not the safest of transport as the roads are busy and there’s no helmets and very little safety in mind! Word of advice – make sure you always get off the moto on the left hand side (and watch for traffic 1st!) as you don’t want to get yourself a ‘Dominican tattoo’ burn from the hot muffler!
Guaguas (local minibuses acting as a kind of bus sticking to main roads but can be flagged down or alighted at any point), as well as caritos (shared cars with taxi signs) are great cheap ways to get around if you know a bit of Spanish.
For car hire use if you want to explore further afield or if you hate motoconchos, use OK Motors, or to purchase a cheap moto or car then use the Facebook forum ‘Everything Cabarete’ will no doubt serve something up for you to look at!
Where to stay?
Budget – the best cheap option if you want to be situated right on kite beach is Kite Beach Inn offering a basic relaxed vibe and a great way to meet other kiters/travelers (rooms from $25/night)
Medium/High end – just a bit out of town is the popular Millenium hotel on Bozo beach known for the Laurel Eastmen Kiteboarding (LEK) school – apartments start at $100/night. For a more central/town location Villa Taina is both close to the kite action as well as the party scene – rooms from $97/night
Boutique – swank it up in one of these modern beachside apartments at Ultra Violeta situated right on the quieter sands of Bozo beach
Consider renting an apartment if staying for more than a couple of weeks (or if you’d like your own space/basic kitchen!). There are so many options available to fit all different price ranges. Airbnb is a great option to start your searches, or a personal favourite is Dulce Vida opposite kite beach offering decent modern apartments from around $430/month (it’s safe and secure and there’s a lovely pool too!)
This shot is a ‘real time’ view from Dulce Vida apartment snapped literally as I write this guide!
Where to eat?
Cab caters for most needs and budgets and there’s also a lot of happy hours and specials offered at restaurants to watch out for depending on the day. Here’s a few to start you off:
Gorditos – described as ‘fresh-Mex’, cheap, quick and delicious and you’ll get addicted to their burritos (they cater well for veggies/celiacs etc too). Flip Flop Falafel is next door, owned by the same management and equally as good!
Ali’s surf camp – if a sizzling churrasco steak is what you’re after then this is the place to go!
Fresh Fresh – for delicious wholesome food with a nice rear terrace often with live music
Pizza and Spaghetti House – GREAT Italian food, lovely setting and run by a bunch of friendly Italian kiters!
Kite Club Cabarete has been established for 10 years, is IKO affiliated and benefits from the most upwind location at kite beach (an important details for beginners!). The school offers instruction for beginners and intermediates, as well as advanced clinics and there’s direct beach access (no need to try and sneak through hotels to get to the water!). They also offer equipment rental, storage lockers and have a great chill out area with beach bar and grill.
There’s also numerous other schools along kite beach and those affiliated with hotels that can offer special deals. The most established school on main beach has to be Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding which is well run and has a decent shop too, and there’s Progress Kitesurfing School situated closest to town.
Most schools have instructors that speak numerous languages.
Kite adventure trips
DR has a lot to offer and there’s a lot of kiteable coastline. Consider a trip to the beautiful province of Samana, staying at Las Terrenas (about a 3 hour drive from Cab) for a great tropical flat water spot with plenty to do aside from kiting.
If you are looking for a real off the beaten track kite adventure like no other, then Fun Trips DR offer a variety of kite trips ranging from 1 – 3 days along the unspoilt North Coast. What’s more is they’re certified diver instructors too and can offer something unique for any group mix.
Other activities / no wind days
Gyms – There’s a lot fitness addicts in Cab as well as yoga enthusiasts. Check out this guide on how to stay buff off the water in Cab.
eXtreme Hotel have got it all wrapped up for you if you want to do stuff before the wind kicks in or on a wind free day – they even have a trapeze and circus school! Trip wise eXtreme plan group adventures at local prices like hiking the scenic Mt Isabel Torres, or chill with a beautiful river float at Taino farm (so awesome I’d consider this a ‘must’!).. Most full day adventures range between $40-60 USD.
Iguana Mama also offer a great programme of various adventure waterfall and canyoning experiences – you can find their tour office in Cabarete town so pop in and find out how extreme you wanna go!
….AND there’s always the beautiful simplicity of Encuentro beach down the road to chill, surf or SUP at too!
Cab has a thriving social scene with a great fusion of Latin and Western vibes. Although kite beach is quiet at night, the main town/beach is full of bars and depending on the night you can find live music, open mics, salsa/merengue/bachata (dancing venues where everyone joins in, or there’s classes at Millenium), clubs, or even karaoke (not as hideous as it sounds)! Generally Thursdays and Saturdays are the busiest at the main bar/club ‘Lax/Ojo’ and often the party doesn’t start to get going until after 11pm!
If you want something a little more laid back then there’s also pool halls and also a lovely low key local ‘cinema’.
A word of warning to men in particular – unfortunately Cabarete also has a thriving prostitution scene which is accompanied by petty crime. There’s little chance of avoiding getting approached (often by what seems like an innocent dance), so make sure you don’t get pickpocketed while doing so (and no matter how attractive or genuine she seems, leave your valuables/phones at home!). Girls be warned that Dominican guys might prey on you too!
What to bring
Leave that nasty neoprene at home – it’s 30 degrees C in the water and warm winds too! No need for formal wear or much more than boardies, flip flops and a cap!
Kite kit – The most heavily used kites out here for twin tip riders are sized 9m (depending on the person of course), but then again you get lighter wind earlier in the day and stronger wind later on. You may also venture out of Cab where the wind may be softer or stronger, so generally I’d always recommend bringing your full quiver just in case.
If you need any kite repairs etc then its easy and cheap to get that done here, but being a Third World country out on a limb with little postal infrastructure, it’s best to bring any spare lines etc out too. Equipment is available to buy here but often more expensive because of the high duty costs and you may not find the variety of brand you require. There is however a thriving 2nd hand kite market too worth checking out.
Other than kites what you should pack in addition is a decent first aid/medical kit as medicines etc aren’t so easy to come by and often kept out of date or spoil in the climate. See our guide about making the most of your kiting holiday
…and forget buying duty free rum at the airport… you’ll be spoilt for choice here for around $6 bottle of the good stuff!
Pack your mobile devices – It goes without saying, make sure you download some Progression videos to learn something new on your holiday! You won’t even need wifi to watch them once downloaded so you can still learn your S-bends at La Boca!
Fancy living the kite life dream like me? Well if you work online then there’s no shortage of decent wifi in Cab and plenty of ‘expats’ spending part of the year or even living long term here. Pretty much every bar, restaurant, accommodation offers wifi (often free of charge). Not much stopping you typing away with your feet in the sand (until the wind comes up that is!).
I could ramble on about Cab forever, but I think I’ve given you enough to digest for now! There’s always the Active Cabarete website for other guides/listings to reference, or if you’ve got any questions then feel free to get in touch by email as or send us a message of course via Facebook.
If you are looking at other locations then check out our Tarifa, Spain or Cape Town guide, or our other travel blog posts.
See you on the beach maybe – come and say hi!
NB This guide includes my personal recommendations from my own experiences (rather than paid adverts), but I am the first to admit that it is by no means an exhaustive list. Book yourself a flight out here and discover some more of Cab yourself!