Your Guide to Kitesurfing in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Mornings are slow. The sun eases itself up over the east end of the beach, a soft breeze tiptoes through the yoga studio and an occasional SUP carves out a path across the ocean. A sleepy coffee cup clinks on a saucer, a tinkle of laughter rises from the beach cafe and the first child splashes in the pool. Not much disturbs heaven. At noon, the wind picks up, doors open, life is breathed into the bones of the kites and they take to the air – great gentle monsters riding the wind.
Wind. Salt. Sun. The kitesurfing triumvirate.
Kitesurfing in the Dominican Republic lures you in with the promise of good times and fresh experiences, a stash of fun, doused in warm weather, surrounded by lush palms and bright flowers, but after a few days it takes hold of the very blood that pumps through your veins, and makes you promise to love it forever. Wind. Salt. Sun. The kitesurfing triumvirate.
With balance, focus, the gentlest pull on the bar and days of peering directly at the midday sun, it is not a sport that you can grab a hold of; it must grab you first, as you gradually earn your kite control and learn to find your place on the board. And then, suddenly…skimming across the top of the waves, time drops into slow motion…you notice how the sun spreads its kiss across the water, the wind carries you, light and smooth. You drive with your back leg. You’ve hit the sweet spot. It is all so perfectly still and beautiful.
Cabarete is one of the top destinations in the world for kitesurfing. You can even receive private coaching from a noted athlete who is touring the world, living the sport and earning a living.
For beginners and intermediates, Cabarete offers a unique opportunity beyond beautifully consistent winds that blow along the beach. It offers the opportunity to indulge in lessons at a very reasonable price and advance safely with very affordable “kite support” to pick your kite out of the water, find your board and take your kite back up wind.
For advanced kiters, it offers the opportunity to travel to a beautiful place, meet genuinely kind people, eat delicious food and know the wind is going to blow your way, day after day after day after day.
Where to Stay and Eat
- Extreme Hotel is the most fun, with non-stop sports from 8:15 AM to 6, 7, or 8 PM (whenever you stop really) with trapeze and circus training, CrossFit, yoga, boxing and more. But you can pay for any activity regardless of where you stay. The rooms are not air-conditioned, although they do have fans. The hotel is run by people who love the outdoors and are happy to share their joy with you. The circus training deserves an extra mention here for adults but especially for children – they are a team of guys who are talented, friendly and just generally wonderful.
- Kite Beach Hotel offers air-conditioned rooms at competitive prices.
- Vacabar offers the best food on the beach and great vegetarian options too!
- Take a bike-taxi into Cabarete itself for a lot of restaurant-on-the-beach options, which are also much less expensive.
An important note about lessons: I found it frustrating that I was not taken seriously as a woman because some aspects of life here are less “women-encouraging.” It’s important to know that before you go and decide how you will deal with that. Extreme has the most readily available instructors and they will encourage you to move out of the “lesson” phase into the “assistance” phase much faster (and at a lower cost for you, too). I had great success with Gabriel as an instructor – but then again, it is always good to have an archangel teaching you. Kiteclub has women instructors who are usually sponsored athletes. I found that during a return visit, I was taken more seriously as a woman at all of the schools.
What to Pack
- Bug spray
- Water bottle
On the water
- Swim tights (yes, these do exist)
- Rash guard (you want to be as covered as possible)
- Light cycling gloves to keep the sun off your hands
- Swimwear for the pool
- Sunglasses (with very dark lenses because you will be looking at the sun a lot)
- Croakies to keep your glasses on
- Yoga pants/shorts and top
- Sports gear for CrossFit, running or any other sport you choose
- The restaurants along the beach are quiet and close early. The mood is very relaxed – totally boho beach-life style. You will be most appropriate in shorts worn with a loose tank top over your swimwear.
- Bring one cotton dress that you can dress up in a little (not too tight or too fancy) if you go into Cabarete proper.
- For a fancy dinner out, boho chic is best. But remember that you will probably get to your destination on the back of a bike-taxi, so wear something that will allow you to hop on and off with dignity.
- Pack a raincoat, especially from June to November when you might witness a beautiful and dramatic rainstorm. I pack my Primrose & Wilde light raincoat, which also keeps me warm on the air-conditioned plane.
In general, tank tops and shorts are de rigeur strung with beaded bracelets, thong necklaces or anklets. Colors are muted, almost washed out. Life is cotton, easy, loose and forgiving. Breathe the air, ride the ocean, move to Molly O’Meara’s famous yoga and be kind to everyone. Smile and the Dominican Republic will smile with you.
Photo credit: Francois D