Cabarete: Famous Windsurfing and Now Kiteboarding Paradise.
About the island:
Cabarete is a small resort town located just 20 minutes from the Puerto Plata airport, on the north shore of the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic occupies just over half of the island of Hispaniola, sharing it with Haiti on the west.
Most Dominicans are very poor working for only a few dollars a day. Education is not mandatory in the country and therefore, many people never went to school. Safety is still a concern in the Dominican Republic, but it shouldn't discourage you from planning a vacation there. Crime consists primarily of theft and robberies. Follow some simple common-sense rules (do not leave anything on the beach and never leave any valuables in the car) and you'll be fine. Spanish is the state language, although all hotels and kite/windsurf shops have staff that is fluent in English. Some locals in the tourist’s areas may surprise you with their excellent German and French.
The hurricane season in Dominican Republic is usually July to November. However, Cabarete has not experienced a hurricane in over a 100 years.
Cabarete became famous in the past 20 years as an excellent windsurfing, surfing and now as a kitesurfing destination. It attracts professional sailors, as well as amateurs, who come to learn and improve their sailing skills. The perfect blending of the location, the offshore reef, the trade winds and the low-lying hills behind create an unusual combination of wind and wave conditions. There is endless amount of windsurfing and kiteboarding shops and schools.
There are also many night clubs, bars and restaurants; all of them are along the beach area. The beach parties do not stop here until sunrise! (Luckily, the real wind sleeps until the early afternoon.) While there, it is impossible to forget that, this is the land of the Meringue. You will become accustomed to hearing the sexy Merengue everywhere. This music gets your hips moving and your heart racing. Dancing to the Merengue is easy and lots of fun; you should definitely try it while you are there.
When to go:
Officially, there are two windy seasons in Cabarete: winter and summer. The winter season stars from January to March. The summer season is from June to August. The best waves are in the winter and the best wind is in the summer season.
Why officially? Because unofficially it is always windy in Cabarete! The months of April and May, and the period from September to the end of December, tend to be a little less reliable in terms of wind and kite surfing conditions. There is a 70% chance of wind during that period of time.
The trade winds and thermals make for strong and consistent conditions. The wind blows easterly, which gives the place perfect side-onshore sailing conditions most of the time. Generally in the morning there is little to no wind. At around 11:30 the thermals pick up and make the wind a lot stronger reaching its peak (up to 30 knots in the summer) at about 4 p.m. Then the wind remains consistent until around 7:00 pm.
Cabarete can accommodate sailors of all levels of expertise. Beginners will practice in the morning. Intermediate to Expert sailors will take to the water in the afternoon. In the winter season there are great conditions to learn and practice wave sailing. The waves are mast height to double mast height in the winter. Parts of the bay (the area from Valero resort to the Ocean One Condos Complex and the Kite Beach) are protected by the reef and therefore will have only small waves (bump and jump conditions). The winds blow averaging 13 - 17 knots in the winter season.
In the summer there is mostly flat water sailing. The reef protected areas will get completely flat water and the rest of the bay will get bum and jumps conditions. The winds average 13-30 knots.
The water is warm all year round averaging about 26°C (79°F).
Cabarete hosts an annual Classical Windsurfing Competition every summer. Another competition is Master of the Ocean which is held here in the winter. It aims to find the world's best overall water-sport athlete, with competitions in surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. For the smallest windsurfers and kitesurfers, late spring and summer offer the best conditions. There is a kids windsurfing/kitesurfing camp in Cabarete.
Beaches to go:
Cabarete Bay. This bay has one of the largest and widest beaches in Dominican Republic. This 7 km (4 miles) bay has a nice sandy bottom. There is only a few spots of bare reef in the inner bay that are quite easy to avoid. The wind is usually side-onshore. All rentals, lessons, shops and other facilities are right here.
The bay can be virtually split onto three parts: windsurfing area, mixed area and kitesurfing area. Windsurfing area starts from Valero Beach resort up until about Club Natalie Simon. This is where all the windsurf shops and rentals are located. This is also the area with the most beach restaurants and night beach parties. After that is the Mixed area called Bozo beach with a few kite schools and kite rental shops.
This area is the longest in the bay. And finally the Kite Beach which can be easily recognized by 1001 kites in the area at any one time! This is where majority of the kite shops and rentals are located. Remind you, Cabarete bay is a large bay and a walk from the Kite Beach to the Windsurfing area (also to the restaurants area) is a lo-ooong walk!
Playa Encuentro beach is further west; about 15 minutes drive. In the morning it is primarily a surfer’s destination. Sailors dying for waves go there in the summer. Be aware, that according to recent information a resort located at Playa Encuentro has privatized part of the public beach and has closed public access to part of the beach area.
The mouth of the Yasica River called La Boca is one alternative to get a smooth ride on flat water even during the wave season in Cabarete. The waters at the Yasica River and the offshore wind takes you all the way to the beach at Cabarete bay. The fresh water ride and the following downwinder will take about half an hour to complete. Some kitesurfing schools in Cabarete organize trips to La Boca on the regular basis and most of the time it is for free. They will drop kiters and head back to the school. You will have to make your way back by yourself so be confident in your skills before going for such an adventure. Windsurfers can drive there along with equipment but someone else will have to drive the car back.
Beaches NOT to go:
The majority of all inclusive vacation resorts are in Playa Dorada or Costa Dorada ; the beaches at this area have lots of scattered sharp corals and rocks. Also there are NO windsurfing rental shops or schools. As for kitesurfing, a kite school was recently opened in the area. Nevertheless, the location is not great especially for beginners.
Sosusa, is the closest neighbour town to Cabarete. The beautiful sandy beaches of Sosua are completely sheltered from the wind. They are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving but NOT for kiteboarding or windsurfing.