This one-time fishing and farming hamlet is now the adventure-sports capital of the country, booming with condos and new development. You’ll find a friendly, slightly raucous beach town, with great independent accommodations, and a beach dining experience second to none (not to mention the best winds and waves on the island).
Cabarete is an ideal spot to base yourself for exploring the area – you’re within two hours’ drive of the best that the coast has to offer, and if you want to go surfing, or windsurfing, or kitesurfing, heck, you don’t even need to leave town. You’ll hear a babble of five or six languages as you walk Cabarete’s single street, where the majority of the hotels, restaurants and shops are located.
Transportation - Get in
Fly to Puerto Plata Airport (POP). Take a taxi (approx US $35 per trip, not per person) to Cabarete - approx 20 minutes. Departure is fast and easy, as Puerto Plata airport is very small, but make sure you are there 2 hours before your flight. It is always a good idea to call the airline on the day of your flight to make sure the departure time has not changed.
Another option is to fly into Santiago airport (STI ) and take a taxi from there. The taxi ride is about 1.5 hours, and the cost is about $100, but you can divide that between 10 passengers. Beware of taxi drivers that want to charge $100 per person. Fare is for trip regardless of number of passengers. If coming at night, ask the driver to drive through Puerto Plata, not on the mountain road (too dangerous at night). It is always best to negotiate the prices before you hop into a taxi. Alternatively, from Santiago Airport get to the Caribe Tours bus station in the Jardines neighborhood in Santiago . Take a bus (RD$160 as of 2012 March 15) to Sosua (leaves 20 past every hour from early morning till evening, takes 2 hours) From Sosua, flag any gua gua heading in the direction of Cabarete (RD$25 as of 2012 March 15) (guas guas pass by at least once every 10 mins during most of the day, journey takes about 20-25 mins depending on the number of stops the gua gua makes).
Puerto Plata is an expensive airport to fly to. Check all of your options including flying in to and out of Puerto Plata, Santiago, and Santo Domingo. The difference in fare can be substantial. A taxi cab from Santo Domingo could cost you about $200 but you may save several times this amount in your airfare. The trip from Santo Domingo takes about 3.5 hours depending on the time of the day.
It is advised that you do not fly into Punta Cana airport. It will usually show the cheapest fares flying into the Dominican Republic, but it is a 6 hour drive and the taxi ride will cost about $400.
Transportation - Get around
The town centre of Cabarete consists of a main road of about 800 meters (0.5 mile). You will find that walking from place to place in the center of town during the day is reasonable. At night you should stay with the crowd and use your common sense. Do not walk off into dark lonely areas by yourself. This is the same advice you should use when you travel anywhere in the world. The Caribbean is no different than New York, USA or Vancouver, CA, for example.
Aside from walking, there are 4 main ways to travel around Cabarete:
- Motoconcho: This is the preferred way to get around Cabarete. During the day a 'motoconcho' (a simple motorbike with a driver) is cheap and fast. The fee is $50 pesos before sunset and $100 pesos after sunset. This will get you from the East end of Cabarete to the first main stoplight in Sosua on the main road. It will cost more to go too far off the main road and you should negotiate this price before you get on. You should keep in mind that some drivers will drink and drive. So, use your eyes and nose to spot a drunk driver. If you find a motoconcho that you like and trust, get his whatsapp number and call him to come pick you up from wherever you are.
Public transportation comes in two forms that you can flag down from anywhere on the side of the road. You can get in and out anywhere on the main street.
- Guagua: Usually a white passenger van stuffed full of people. Only runs during the day. This will cost you anywhere from 25-50 pesos depending on how much you want to argue. The local price is $25 pesos, but as a tourist you can expect they will ask for ask for $50 pesos per ride. You can feel free to hand them $25 pesos and get off at your stop. Always bring change since the "cobrador" may "not have change."
- Carrito Publico: Usually a Toyota Corolla with a topper on the roof signifying it is a carrito. These are faster than a guagua because there are less passengers to stop for. You will pay $35 during the day and double after dark.
The most comfortable way to travel.
- Taxis are everywhere. They are usually in the form of a Toyota Previa or something similar. They will have a taxi topper. The taxi union is very strict, so you will know they are part of the union if they have a taxi topper and ID card. There are set prices for all destinations. Some stands will have them listed, but others will not. So best to negotiate the prices before you get in. Since they are usually very nice and well maintained, the ride will be much more expensive than the other choices.
Things To Do
Cabarete averages 300 days of wind per year. Therefore it is a well known destination for kitesurfing and windsurfing. There are approximately 33 windsports schools to choose from in Cabarete Bay, Bozo Beach (the north western half of Cabarete Bay) and on Kite Beach. Cabarete Bay is mostly known for windsurfing, while Bozo Beach and Kite Beach are mostly known for kitesurfing. Kite Beach tends to be flatter than Bozo Beach but the play area is much smaller as the reef is much closer to the beach. Bozo Beach is a bit choppier but has a huge wide-open playground as the reef is further away. On both beaches the reef creates great waves for wave kitesurfing.
Playa Encuentro, about 6km / 4 miles from the center of Cabarete, has about 300 days of waves per year, making it one of the most consistent surf spots in the Caribbean. There are 5 main surf breaks making the beach suitable for all levels of surfers. There are several qualified surf schools offering lessons and equipment rentals at Playa Encuentro.
Standup paddle boarding can be practiced on non-windy days. You can SUP on the flat waters inside the reef or SUP surf the waves on the reef. Cabarete Bay, Bozo Beach, Kite Beach, and Encuentro Beach all offer suitable conditions.
- Dare2fly Kiteboarding School, Agualina Kite resort (Park at Agualina Kite resort and walk the path back toward the beach.), , ✉ [email protected]. 10am-6pm 7 days per week. Dare2fly is a full service kiteboarding center located in the center of Kite Beach. The school provides professional kitesurfing courses taught by IKO certified instructors.
The local currency is the Dominican Peso (DOP). Most restaurants and bars and services will accept American Dollars, Canadian Dollars, and Euros for a high exchange rate for the convenience. So, it is better if you exchange any currency to dominican pesos.
Do not exchange money at the airport unless it is absolutely necessary. It is very expensive. It is better to exchange money in your home country and bring it. But if you have to exchange money while in Cabarete, keep in mind that most ATMs charge a fee to withdraw (Soctia bank does not as of May 2019) and have a cap of RD$4000 per day.
- Wally Exchange Cabarete - passport required
- Caribe Express - passport required
- Janet’s Supermarket - passport not required
- Supermercado La Rosa - passport not required
- Casa de Cambio Luis - passport not required
You can also exchange money inside at any of the local banks that are affiliated with your home bank. Passport is required for all bank transactions.
Goods and services
There are plenty of cool gift shops to buy all kinds of things to remember your holiday and share the Caribbean spirit with people back home.
One unique idea is Mamajuana a bottle of herbs and sticks that you fill with red wine, empty, then fill with rum and honey. It's for settling the stomach after dinner and makes a very cool addition to anyone's home bar. It is said that Mamajuana is also used for male vitality.
For healthier alternatives try a T-shirt or a photo CD of you taking kiteboarding lessons!
Cabarete is known worldwide as a testing ground for kite manufacturers, so you can often find slightly used kites at discounted prices. And amazingly its cheaper to rent gear then to bring your own (airlines have a $100 charge each way).
Food & Restaurants
Local fare includes dishes such as pica pollo (fried chicken), Guisado (chicken or beef stew), mangu (mashed plantains), and sancocho (a meaty soup with vegetables reserved for special occasions). La Bandera Dominicana, spanish for “The Dominican Flag”, is the national standard lunchtime dish consisting of rice, beans, and meat. Most local plates cost around $150 DOP. You will not usually find these restaurants on the beach in the center of town. Instead look for them on the main road (street side) or in the local neighborhoods.
- Luis Parilla (the Chicken Shack) (at the entrance of the callejon de la lomathe). The restaurant serves BBQ chicken and ribs, rice and beans, and yuca.
- Nativo's Cafe (on the main road across from the ocean dream plaza). They serve a variety of local Dominican Dishes such as pica pollo and fried fish.
There is an array establishments with authentic foreign dishes. You will find restaurants that serve Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, American, French, BBQ, Seafood, Vegan and Vegetarian, and just about any other type of food you can think of. There are many restaurants located directly on the beach so they have great views and a nice breeze to top off the ambiance. Usually they are foreign owned and more expensive than the locally owned restaurants.
- Alis Surf Camp (Cabarete beach hostel). Famous for their churrasco steak, but they serve a variety of other plates such as curry chicken and cream shrimp and rice.
- Belgian Bakery (next to Banco Popular to the west of the town centre). It serves a variety of homemade pastries, as well as breakfast and lunch plates.
- Blue Moon. Indian-Dominican; 20 min ride from Cabarete (taxi). You have to call before, the restaurant is small (30-40 ppl mx). Romantic atmosphere, wonderful sunset, delicious plates of food that you eat with your hands. Note that this restaurant requires a group of 8, unless they are already hosting a larger party which they are almost always willing to let you join.
- Gordito's. Serves very popular Tex-Mex food (run by a family from Florida). Burritos and bowls typically RD$110 (or RD$128 after +16% tax).
- Vitamin D Cafe, Agualina Kite Resort, , [email protected]. 8:30AM-3PM Tu-Su. A mostly vegan and vegetarian beachfront restaurant serving a robust selection of raw, vegan, and vegetarian plates. There are a few carnivore options, too. Menu items are made in-house with local ingredients. Free fast wifi.
- Yamazato (at Ocean Dream). Serves fresh sushi made by a Japanese sushi chef who now lives in Cabarete.
Cabarete has a wide variety of bars, restaurants, and discos offering full bars with liquor and beer. Presidente is the local beer. Brugal is the local rum. Mamajuana is a locally made aperitif served after meals at many restaurants.
- Mojito Bar. Busy happy hour hang out spot
- Voy Voy. Karaoke on Monday night
- Lax/Ojo. Ladies' night and salsa night on Thursday night
- Onno's. Restaurant late night disco that plays popular American music