Journey to the Dominican Republic: Exploring Cabarete for Relaxed Island Vibes

Nestled along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, Cabarete is a small bohemian town where kite surfers, second homeowners & locals effortlessly share its natural beauty. This vibrant island town, with its golden beaches, azure waters, and lively atmosphere, offers a unique blend of relaxation, adventure and escape. Whether you’re a surfer, a nature lover, or an experienced traveler looking to get off the grid, traveling to Cabarete will satisfy your appetite.

Travel To Cabarete in Dominican Republic

As soon as we got off the plane and headed toward immigration you could feel the island vibes as a small trio of elderly musicians welcomed the passengers with salsa music.  Immigration can be tricky. Make sure you understand that you need an E-Ticket to leave the airport.  We did not and it cost us 30 minutes of confusion and frustration.

Once we left Puerto Plata airport and began our 30 minute drive south to Cabarete, you couldn’t help but notice the relatively clean roads.  There wasn’t much garbage on the roadside as you see often when traveling in Mexico.  It’s nice to get some positive signals early on a virgin trip.  Our wonderful smiling driver, Hector reminded me of Dominican native, Big Papi (David Ortiz). He was playing salsa music and singing along while he escorted us to Cabarete, another good travel omen.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic – 03.10.2013: Arial view of Puerto Plata’s famous cable car.

About The Dominican Republic

Geography: The Dominican Republic shares a massive island with Haiti to the west. The DR is the second-largest country in the Caribbean and occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island. The landscape is incredibly diverse, featuring lush tropical rainforests, mountain ranges, fertile valleys, and long sandy beaches.  The Cordillera Central mountain range runs through the heart of the country, providing opportunities for hiking and exploration.  The summit is over 9600 feet and the range extends over 200 miles – to give you an idea of the size of this island.

Capital and Major Cities: The capital city is Santo Domingo, with a population of 3.5 million, it’s a historic and bustling metropolis. The city holds the distinction of being the oldest inhabited European settlement in the Americas. Punta Cana is where you will find the all-inclusive resorts, fanny packs & Crocs ….  in other words, New Yorkers on vacation. 🙂

Culture and Heritage: The Dominican Republic boasts a rich cultural tapestry shaped by its indigenous Taíno roots, Spanish colonial history, and African influences. This fusion is evident in the country’s music, dance, art, and cuisine. Merengue and bachata are two iconic music genres that originated here, and Dominican dance forms are known for their lively and rhythmic expressions.

Life in Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Cabarete has earned its reputation as the “Action Sports Capital of the Caribbean,” and for good reason. The town’s consistent trade winds and warm waters make it a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Kiteboarding and windsurfing take center stage here, attracting beginners and experts alike. There are numerous schools and rental shops along Cabarete Beach.  There is also a legitimate surf break (Encuentro) a few miles north of Cabarete that is pretty consistent if the wind is not blowing it out.

What is Playa Cabarete like in Dominican Republic?

The beach in Cabarete is a half moon bay,  a picturesque stretch of golden sand fringed with swaying palm trees.  The sand is good for walking and running and the shores are pretty clean.  They are cleaner than many beaches in California, which says a lot about the locals in my opinion. When I was in Cabarete there was heavy rainfall one night. It rained hard for several hours.  Two day later the runoff from the rivers brought massive amounts of debris (and plastic) to the beaches.  You could barely walk the beach as it was piled up 2-3 feet in some areas.  By the next day, the locals had removed all of it from the entire beach.

The beaches in my town are littered with juicy cups, straws & Doritos bags.  Again, this says a lot about the locals in my opinion.

The south side of Playa Cabarete is where all the beach front restaurants and bars are located. It was high season when we were recently there and there was never a wait for a table or service and Don Julio tequila was $8-10 😃.  There is a very chill vibe, music is not blaring, nobody is yelling or blowing a whistle and the wait staff moves very slow, which I enjoy.

The northern side of the half moon is where you will find a couple hotels but mostly condos and private residences.  This is what gives Cabarete its charm, there aren’t many tourists. The town is mainly locals and second home owners from United States and Europe.  So without a dominant tourist presence, there is far less crime, annoying timeshare realtors and cheesy restaurants. In other words, there is no Senior Frogs in Cabarete or anything remotely like it, which is refreshing.

You can walk the sand of Playa Cabarete to the north for at least 3 miles before you hit an obstacle. This is great if you are a runner or just enjoy some exercise on your vacation.  The beach is pretty much non-tidal meaning there is less than 2 feet between high and low tide so there is always plenty of room to walk on relatively flat sand.

Nightlife in Playa Cabarete

As the sun sets, Cabarete transforms into a vibrant hub of nightlife but nothing like Cabo.  Everyone is pretty well behaved and happy. I did not see drunk, loud tourists misbehaving the entire time I was there.  Again, its mostly second home people, semi-locals if you will.

The amount of high-end restaurants in Cabarete and the ease of walking in and getting a nice table was a wonderful surprise. There are 5-6 really nice restaurants, open air, on the beach.  They all have great lighting, eclectic décor with amazing food and drinks.  Very impressive restaurant vibe.  Locals tip: Head to Gorditos for the best tacos on the island.  Shout out to Deirdre!

Cabarete is a tropical paradise that seamlessly blends adventure and relaxation into a wonderful chill island vibe. Whether you’re getting up on a kiteboard, walking on the beach, or exploring the mountains and lagoons, Cabarete provides a peaceful escape for those seeking a perfect blend of adventure and tranquility.  I am proud to add Cabarete to my island resume and look forward to my return.