KITESURFING HOLIDAYS - CABARETE
Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Hispaniola in 1492. The island is now separated into the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and on the north coast of the Dominican Republic is the kitesurfing haven, Cabarete. Four kilometres of golden sandy beach is combed by a regular cross-onshore wind and protected by an offshore reef. Cabarete is a great holiday destination for non-kitesurfing partners and family members too, with a wide range of activities and experiences to choose from, including other watersports such as surfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, and a host of excursions into the tropical countryside, as well as mountain biking and even romantic horse riding. The unique atmosphere is fuelled by the Caribbean nightlife, mixing meringue and salsa rhythms with fruit-filled cocktails for a heady, vibrant atmosphere.
Cabarete's reputation for surfkiting spread quickly from day one thanks to its consistent winds and varied conditions for beginner to expert. Terrain ranges from flat or choppy water through to world class reef and shore-break starboard tack wave riding (wind from the right as you look out to sea). Watch the winds build in the morning with a moderate breeze and accelerate through the afternoon to solid force five and sixes. In winter things settle down somewhat to allow for more civilised kite sizes such as 12 and 16 metres. Cabarete offers several riding spots. Kite Beach wind is solar driven, meaning that the best riding is generally later in the day - more often than not the wind cranks after 4pm. This leaves kitesurfers plenty of time to catch some morning surf or recuperate after a night of reggae-ton (Latin Reggae/Hip-Hop). Generally the day's heat rises and cool trade winds fill in providing cross-onshore winds of 20 knots. These same trade winds push water on to a well defined outer reef that kicks up chest- to head-high waves and protects the bay, providing flat water inside and rolling blue water swells on the outside. When the trade winds fill in, there's no shortage of good riding! This beach has become firmly embedded in kitesurfing folklore and some people now find it too busy near to shore as advanced riders like to kitesurf close to each other, but head upwind or downwind, and you'll have waves all to yourself. But there are many other options...
Directly east or upwind of Kite Beach is Cabarete Bay. La Policia is just upwind of the windsurfing zone on the main beach, and is therefore for advanced kitesurfers, but the conditions are perfect. Beginners learn to kitesurf on this beach. Bozo Beach is situated downwind in Cabarete's main bay. The wind here is cross-onshore and the water conditions are flat to choppy. Bozo is suitable for all levels and the more advanced can venture 800 metres out to the reef to find a lovely breaking wave. There is a lagoon about four kilometres upwind of Cabarete Bay with a wide, sandy beach that offers perfect conditions for the first kitesurf session. Locals urge you to take great care here however, as there's only room for four kites on the lagoon at any one time!
Kitesurfing in Cabarete is all about gratification, with steady winds, beautiful warm water and droves of chicos eager to help pump your kite and lay out your lines. The bad news for new riders is they may leave with out having had much practice at rigging! Everyone else will be grateful for the constant assistance!
Cabarete is a year round destination, although the winds are lighter in winter. Most reliable April to September with temperatures topping out at just over 30°C.
The water temperature is very warm, sitting in the mid 20s all year. There aren't really any shallow areas, but the water is flat inside the reef and the wind is cross-onshore, so it's perfectly safe. As it's tidal you'll find more beach available at certain times, however.
Cabarete isn't as big as most people seem to imagine. Directly east or upwind of Kite Beach is Cabarete Bay, where you find a great quality and quantity of food. This beach is packed with great restaurants offering every type of food and beverage. In Cabarete, everyday is Christmas and every night is New Years Eve. The food is just rewards after an afternoon of catching a sackful of waves and eating under a canopy of Palm frongs helps complete the tropical vibe. There are three very lively bars on the beach where you can party until six in the morning before retiring to a good range of accommodation styles to suit all budgets - except perhaps those looking for mega, mega luxury.
Puerto Plata (POP): 25 min drive from Cabarete.
Taxis and motorcycle taxis are the easiest. A lot of place are within walking distance anyway.
- Full Moon boat trip down the Yasica river.