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The following is a list of the Top Ten Things to Do in Cabarete. While there are plenty of other adventures to be had, if you get through this list during your trip you will have had a great time.
That is what makes the Dominican Republic a great place to visit, the ability to do pretty much whatever you want. If you don't see signs for something, ask around and there will be people ready to help you, and make a few pesos, to make sure you have a great time. So get out of the beach
1. Kiteboard / Kitesurf
Cabarete has been a top wind destination for the past 20 years during the windsurf era. Believe it or not, the wind is still firing. It does have its seasons. Summer = Windy , Spring and Fall = Probably Windy , Winter = Possibly Windy. That said, as with any wind destination you have the chance to score big or to get skunked. Luckily, the Domincan Republic has a ton of other activities so you won't be sitting on the beach practicing your sandcastle building skills. The wind picks up in the afternoon so you'll have plenty of time to surf or work off the hangover.
To learn, there are many IKO certified instructors available. If you know how to ride and are perfecting staying up wind and a bit uneasy about being on your own. Hire a supervisor (kid) off the beach to keep an eye on you and walk your kite back up-wind when needed.
Experienced Kiters will find plenty of various conditions to play in. The line up right in front of kite beach gets pretty crowded with beginners and careless locals so your best bet is to drop just down wind of everyone or head out to the reef for waves and flat water between the sets. The reef is great for strapless surf riding.
Once you get bored of that scene. Get away. Downwind to Encuentro for larger waves that break closer to the beach. Another option is take a moto up wind to La Boca (Google Map), the river mouth 5 - 10 miles up-wind. The area is much smaller than it looks in photos, about 3 - 4 kiters in the 'pool' tops. When you are done, downwind to Kite Beach or keep going for an epic downwinder to Encuentro. Hungry? Stop in Cabarete on the way for a bite to eat the continue the journey. Regardless, make sure you've got some money in case you break down and need a ride back into town.
2. Surf Encuentro
Encuentro is a prefect reef break for beginners through advanced surfers. To see exactly where it was located see the Google Map . Head down to the beach and rent a board from the local schools. Should run you about $20 for a rental and can use any type of board that suits your style. If you are a beginner be sure to grab a pair of the water shoes as well to avoid the multiple sea urchins on the reef.
Beginners - The inside break has been knocked down and the water is shallow. Start in the white water and get to get the basics down then move out a bit further to catch some small breaking waves. Lessons are available if you need them, but likely you can figure it out or latch on to someone else that is at your skill level to learn together.
Intermediates - The larger main break can get pretty crowded in the lineup which can be intimidating. There is a good amount of space in between the main lineups that you can find some shoulders of the smaller waves and even some set waves that come in when no one else is around. Makes the morning surf session more relaxing even if you don't catch as many waves.
Advanced - Encuentro can get big and barreled. Get in the middle of it all and charge the gnar!
Session is over. There is a full bar with juice, coffee, snacks or the odd morning cerveza if you choose to partake. Now head down to get on kite session!
3. Haggle ... For Everything
When you're out and about you'll be solicited constantly. Haggle for everything that isn't on a menu or in the grocery store. Take your time, don't let them pressure you into buying something on the spot. Keep walking out or come back the following day. You'll be able to get some good deals and have some fun in the process. It is a good way to learn some language and culture without paying for tours. And make a friend or two as well.
Look out for "friendly" questions as they are probably just trying to figure out how much of a sucker you're likely to be. "How much did you pay for your cigars?" say a large number, they've got you. Make something up lower. "Where are you from?" Americans are suckers. "Where are you staying?"
The one thing you can't control is your tan if you are vacationing in the winter. The whiter you are the fresher meat you are.
4. 27 Waterfalls Tour
Arrange a trip to the the beautiful 27 waterfalls for a half day non stop adventure. The falls are 1.5 hours outside of Cabarete and this is one trip that it is definitely worth arranging through a local tour company. The best is Iguana Mama and it will run around $80 per person (you might be able to get the price down a bit with a large group or paying in cash).
The day starts meeting up at Iguana Mama's headquarters and hopping in a taxi with a small breakfast provided. Upon arriving at the falls you will be equipped with some second rate life vests and helmets then begin the trek up the mountain. It is a decent hour long hike that will get the body temperature up and ready for some chilly water.
This is when the fun begins. Start jumping or sliding down all 27 waterfalls into crystal blue water. Some of the jumps are from a decent height and the guides, not being able to speak much english, try their best to point to the correct spots to jump. The holes can be small with shallow spots and rocks all around so there wasn't much goofing around on the jumps. There are a few grottos with extra waterfalls to explore. The scenery changes the whole way down and it is really amazing.
After the final jump, there is a riverside bar to enjoy a post adventure cerveza and an awesome Dominican Style buffet lunch to eat before disembarking back to Cabarete in time for an evening kite session.
5. Check Out the Nightlife
There is a great variety of beach bars along Cabarete's main strip. Everything from an Irish Pub to Hip Hop dance clubs to Reggae to Local Dominican music. They don't charge entry fees so grab a drink and wander down the beach till one suits your style. Better yet, walk across the street to the Blue Bar garage and get super cheap Cuba Libre's (rum and coke) to avoid higher prices along the beach bars.
It is a great place to party with people from all over the world or just kick back and people watch. This includes hooker watching. Don't go out in town with more than you intend to spend because they are awful crafty with their 'Brute Force' technique. Keep an eye on your camera if you bring it out as well, zippered pockets are really handy when trying to keep hooker hands away! Also, make sure to try some Mamajuana, a local Dominican drink which is basically rum and honey that has been marinating over some wood chips. Not sure why, but it is good. And if you want to learn a local dance, flip a local some pesos, plug your nose and learn away!
6. Play with the Local Kids
There are plenty of kids looking to do small tasks for tourists for tips. Don't just give the kids money, make them do something, no matter how trivial it is, to let them earn their pesos. After getting a lay of the land and recognizing faces, have some fun with the kids. Kick a soccer ball or play some games with them on the beach. Their smiles make it all worthwhile.
7. Hike Kite Beach to Encuentro
Take some sandals and go for a walkabout. The beach walk is approximately two miles from Kite Beach to Encuentro or vice versa. It isn't technical at all but there is likely going to be no one else on the route. With some great rock formations to walk over and secluded beaches intermittently the whole way. If the rocks get to be a pain to navigate, hop in the water and swim around them.
8. Stay at Ali's Surf Camp or Extreme Hotel
If you are traveling and need a value place to stay these are the ones. Don't expect the most luxury amenities that can be found at a resort or five star hotel. Ali's and Extreme are back to basics. A place to lay your head at night after a long day of wrecking your body on and off the water. They both have their advantages so pick which one is right for you. Regardless which one you choose you are bound to leave with countless new friends from all over the world.
Ali's Surf Camp - Located downtown Cabarete about 200 meters off the beach. Has lodging options from multi bedroom apartments to single bed bungalows that are the budget basics. The camp has a pool to relax and wash off in after spending the day in the salt water. The best part about Ali's is the food. For a value you get breakfast and dinner included in the room price. The breakfast is eggs and rolls with freshly pressed orange juice. The dinner is the 'special' that varies every night and will fill you up after a long day. Hop the morning bus to Encuentro to surf the catch it back to Kite Beach for the wind session. They partner with the surf school as well as the kite camp to take care of all the lesson and equipment needs.
Extreme Hotel - Extreme is located right on kite beach about a mile from downtown. On site it has a pool, yoga studio, skate ramp and bar. That should just take care of anything you might want to do on an active vacation. The skate ramp is big and sweet a perfect alternative for a non-wind day. They offer kite lessons right from the hotel and are at the downwind side of kitebeach and the riding is less crowded. The biggest downside to this place is having to go downtown to snag groceries or dinner every night. Breakfast can be had next door or down at Kite Club in the morning.
9. Hop a Moto
The most exciting way to get around Cabarete is to hop on a Motoconche for a taxi ride. This things are basically a bit more powerful than mopeds. Prepare to get cozy with travel buddies because they'll stack up as many as 3 grown men on them along with the driver. Although it is killer on their shocks, the drivers will the extra pesos they'll get for a fare.
A couple words to the wise before mounting up. Negotiate your fare before they start driving. They love to gouge the fare if you don't. Watch out for the exhaust pipe unless you want a permanent scare to remember your trip by. And most important, give the driver a look over to make sure he is not too drunk or high on drugs to give you a semi safe ride.
10. Rent a Motorcycle
Take a day and go exploring on two wheels of a motorcycle, quad or dune buggy. Head up in the mountains, cruise down the beach and explore neighboring towns. This is the best way to really see how the locals live and create an adventure away from Cabarete and off the tourist beaten path. An Enduro style motorcycle can be rented for $25 a day which is a value to see the sights without a set schedule.
Lonely Planet Dominican Republic & Haiti (Country Guide) - Definitive guide to the area which will point you towards more epic adventures.
Money Belt - Keep those hooker hands off your cash! Good to have some form of this traveling to any country where frisky fingers are about.