Que calor - this is Cabarete!
A picture postcard of white sand, merengue, salsa, palm trees, rum and frolics all blowing in a beautifully inviting breeze – Cabarete situated on the north-eastern coast of the Dominican Republic is truly the country’s windsurfing mecca. Lucy Robson reports...
Visualise yourself standing at the end of a long baywith a flat lagoon touching the shore and beyond that waves breaking over the reef shaping white crests and blowing mist over the sea. The air is 30 degrees and the water an inviting 28 degrees. The beach is a vista of flags blowing in the wind and windsurfing centres showcasing the best of their kit for your viewing; this is tropical windsurfing at its best!
I found myself in Cabarete after being faced with the familiar conundrum in the UK this winter of escaping the frigid chill encapsulated by the torrent of freak snow showers and bitter northerly winds to somewhere warm with consistent windy conditions offering both the option for freestyle and waves with the opportunity to also surf. After a bit of research I took the plunge to try this spot out and was genuinely pleased I did. Cabarete really offers something for everyone but most importantly you get great windsurfing.
There are direct flights from the UK to Puerto Plata. I flew from Gatwick and the flight took approximately 10 hours. There is no denying that this is a long flight with no stop-over but once you land in Puerto Plata the onward journey is short and hassle free. We found a taxi at the airport, negotiated a price of 30 US$ and were driven together with our kit in a people carrier to our hotel in Cabarete in just 20 minutes.
When you are looking to book a flight be careful not to make the mistake of flying to Punta Cana or Santa Domingo which are 13 and 5 hour taxi rides away from Cabarete respectively.
We flew with Thomas Cook airlines, mainly because this was the cheapest and seemed to have the most reliable excess baggage policy for sports equipment. A return flight with Thomas Cook cost £480 each.
Insofar as carrying kit is concerned Thomas Cook’s website at www.flythomascook.com quotes £40 return for long haul flights. I arrived with 3 big bags (double board bag, quiver bag and triple surf board bag) and managed to get away with just £40 return. A smile always helps!
If you want to really take the back seat and have all the arrangements made for you, there are plenty of travel companies like First Choice which offer all-inclusive packages for 2 weeks at a cost of approximately £1500 per person depending on the time of year you travel.
Tour Operators: for packages with or without flights contact www.sportif.travel for full ATOL protected holidays.
Info on the spot
The deep half moon shaped Cabarete Bay is enclosed by a reef situated 800m from the shore. This provides good backside and frontside riding depending on whereabouts on the reef you choose to go. The waves are predominantly shaped by open ocean swell and are quite a fat. It is not therefore that great for jumping since the wave pushes in at 45 degrees to the wind so you will find yourself heading into wind when you try to get air off the ramps.
The waves were between shoulder to logo high and really good for improving wave riding. The water is shallow here so watch your fins! This is also not a spot for beginners to venture out to or intermediates that are not confident and quick with water starting. I saw quite a few people swimming for kit!
The inside of the bay is flat with small chop and is perfect for freestyle. There are a number of locals who, like in the other Caribbean islands, specialise in freestyle and are an inspiration to watch.
There can be a small shorebreak at times but nothing to even deter a beginner.
How the wind works
The wind is a powerful trade wind, blowing from 20 knots to 35 knots from the beginning of April until the end of November and almost 100% consistency of more than 20 knots from June to October!
The stats indicate that the most consistent months for wind are from June to mid September and for the best waves and wind combined from February to April.
The regular trade winds blow cross shore from right to left (starboard tack) typically increasing from a light morning breeze to a windy Force 5-6 most afternoons as a result of a local thermal effect. As a result of this the wind is actually underestimated by both www.windguru.cz and www.magicseaweed.co.uk