* * * * Cabarete . . .
The vast expanse of Cabarete Beach, the kite boarding and the fresh water lagoons in the El Choco National Park behind it.
No Place Like Anyplace Else
Cabarete is the water sports capital of the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. Period.
It has unexcelled wind and water conditions in a range that accommodates learners to experts in windsurfing, kite boarding and wave surfing.
For over two decades, Cabarete has been home to world class events like The Kiteboarding World Tour, Master of the Ocean (the only watersports triathalon in the world), Kiteboarding 4 Kids, The Summer Fest, The Butterfly Effect (a celebration of women in water sports), Pablito Guzman’s Cabarete Classic, the Masters’ Surf Reunion, and The Midwinter Laser Regatta.
It is real good stuff, responsibly done.
But Cabarete is not Just Water Sports
Cabarete goes way beyond that. As Greenwich Village in New York is not just for artists, so Cabarete is not just for water sports—just as importantly, it is at the heart of the Dominican Republic’s adventure and eco-tourism.
To start with, one of the biggest parks in the Caribbean is behind it, the 44 square mile (77 square kilometers) El Choco National Park. Within its borders are two vast, fresh-water lagoons, jungles dense with tropical plants (in which is
Horseback riding from Seahorse Ranch along a remote section of Cabarete beach and into the jungle trails.
the new Monkey Jungle and zip line adventure), unusual birds, deep-earth origin fresh water springs, rivers and streams, pastures, organic coffee plantations and dirt roads having pre-Columbian origins. It is ancient, and the green and the peace of the vast forest will envelope you.
Within the park, and the areas around Cabarete, vacationers can go canyoning, cascading, caving, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, mountain biking, dirt biking, paragliding, ultra-ligh flying, quad riding, river rafting and rock climbing, play with monkeys in their own, open-area jungle— all arranged by trained, expert and licensed guides and tour operators. The first licensed, adventure tourism company in the country is in Cabarete. It is 22 years old, so adventure tourism goes way back in Cabarete.
Cabarete is like the Disney World of the natural, adventure and sports tourism. No resort-town destination in the Caribbean equals or exceeds its offerings. None.
Places to Stay
This includes all-inclusive resorts, boutique hotels, time shares, condominiums and villas. Most are reasonably priced. Most are on the water, or with ocean views. For people who want to be looked after like they are on a cruise ship, the all-inclusives have multiple bars and restaurants and plenty of planned
Water sports and pina coladas by day on the central part of Cabarete Beach.
and guided activities.
Villas are not just for families any more. They are used for corporate meetings or for groups of friends who split costs to rent a large, six-room luxury villa. This is like staying at your own hotel, but with privacy and food, booze and vacation lifestyle the way you want it, not the way some hotel tycoon imagines it.
A guest at one of them said, “All this makes villas the new all-inclusive.” Honeymooners can rent small one-bedroom villas within a secure gated community, or enjoy the services at a beachside boutique hotel that was once a family’s beach-side second home.
Cabarete also has its fair share of absolutely stunning, short-term, rental condominiums, with large windows, wi-fi, flat screen TV, and modern, fully-equipped kitchens. Step out of your apartment and fall into the ocean. What a life!
Life’s a Beach
In the morning, the trade winds are gentle and excellent for an easy-going swim. In the afternoon, thermals cause the trade winds to pick up their on-shore speed and it is time for the windsurfers and kite surfers to show their stuff. The blue of the sky, the blue of the sea, the
* * *
Cabarete Beach at night, with table lined up, looks like a giant beach party or a huge New England clam bake.
gold of the sun and the rainbow colors of sails skipping like butterflies over the water is a sight to behold — every day.
Everybody uses the beach lounges and drinks the Dominican rum that flows like water. This is where the people who lie in the sun and do nothing but tan
and sip piña coladas show their stuff.
But the best part is the beach-front side of town . . . a few minutes walk from most resorts, condominiums and surf camps. Life here in Cabarete is all about beach-centric. In Cabarete, come as you are is not just a slogan— it is the real thing. And most of the time “as you are” is in a bathing suit.
Resorts at which patrons have to dress for dinner have their place, but so does Cabarete, and it is with those people who like being in a bathing suit and bare feet all day long, including night time. Who isn’t one of those people?
It is possible to spend an entire vacation here and not once put on any footwear.
Come to Cabarete. Throw away your sandals.
The beach is not abandoned as soon as the sun sets, but rather a new life of its own starts . . . with cocktail hour at the bars that have served breakfast and lunch to patrons all day. It is time for Cabarete vacationers at one of the 20 or so open-air, thatched-roofed restaurants and bars that line the beach, standing shoulder to shoulder facing north as if sentinels against a world gone insane.
The restaurants serve a variety of foods from Dominican home-style meals, to French-Swiss prepared straight-out-of-the-water seafood, to the food of the Irish. The tables are on the beach, on the sand, under the palms and spreading sea grape trees. What’s the attire? It’s beach comfy. Bathing suit and bare feet . . . toes playing with the sand.
As 10 and 11 o’clock approaches, the bands set up at restaurants-turned-discothèques. It is time to party. And guess what? Dance bare feet in the sand, or civilized with shoes at the bar.
At 4:00 AM the bars close. A few stragglers sit on the sand sipping the last drink of a long night. They watch the sun rise. The beach hands emerge to rake and tidy up, put out the lounges and beach umbrellas.
It’s the start of a new vacation day in Cabarete.
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