Something for Everyone
Beginners: There is a relatively flat sea state (although it can get choppy if a north swell is running in the winter months). This is perfect for learning, assisted by a gentle breeze in the mornings. I also saw good beginner equipment (including kids’ equipment) and qualified instructors on hand for group and private tuition for all levels up to looping and aerial freestyle.
Intermediates: The inside of the bay is protected from the ocean swell which provides for perfect blasting conditions. The cross shore wind and the shape of the bay also allows for safe sailing. Should you encounter difficulties you will always end up on the beach! Like for beginners there is a good range of hire equipment available and instruction for improvers to include stance, harness, foot straps, etc.
Experts: For freestylers there is flat water inside the bay and regular consistent Force 4-6 wind every afternoon. To compliment the freestyle for those interested more in wave riding there are cross-on to cross-off waves depending on the section of the reef and typically from February to April the waves are 2 – 5m high.
Non Windsurfing Activities
The shape of the bay and the wind direction allows for non-windsurfers (or those on a day off) enjoying relaxing on the golden sandy beach without enduring any sort of sand blast which is often found at other windy locations. There are also numerous bars and restaurants along the beach where you can relax over your favourite drink! The mojitos are to be recommended or in fact anything with rum in!
There are other activities which are available locally and at reasonable prices including; surfing, kiteboarding, horseriding, mountain biking, canyoning, wakeboarding, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling and whale watching.
Good waves can be found at Playa Encuentro which is the most consistent break on the north coast and a 10 minute drive west of Cabarete. You will need to get up early and should aim to get to the beach for 0600 not only to beat the inevitable crowds but also the wind which usually kicked in around 0900 and blows the waves out. Encuentro is a package of reef breaks which offers a number of rights and lefts for different levels. There are numerous surf schools at the spot where surf boards and other equipment are available for hire.
The most consistent wave is a mellow, point break like right hander which starts breaking at 2ft. If you’re a beginner or need to put your feet on the ground regularly it is advisable to wear booties to avoid contact with the local urchins. You will find 100m farther west there are powerful lefts which break over shallow reef and are more affected by wind and currents.
If you don’t hire a motorbike or a car yourself you can always ask a local to give you a ride to the beach on his motorbike for 100 peso. Or you can go with Ali’s Surfcamp shuttle (ask for Antonio). They also offer trips to the more remote Playa Grande area about 50km east of Cabarete. We never had an opportunity to try Playa Grande area as it was a bit far on the scooter we hired(about 50 kilometres away) but heard some great reports from the other surfers and windsurfers who were making the trip there.
Instruction and kit hire
There is a choice of 6 centres all located directly on the beach.
This is the biggest and probably the best equipped centre stocking 2008 Neil Pryde rigs and JP and Starboard boards. Vela Cabarete also enjoys the optimum location on the bay for launching and landing being placed directly in the middle. This is a lively centre with two amusing British instructions (Neil and Searle “the pirate”) and has the benefit of its own adjoining bar /restaurant and shop. You can book direct for online discounts at www.velacabarete.com on kit and instruction and also for enquiries for a package to include accommodation, transfers equipment, rental and qualified instruction at all levels.
We hired kit here for Caspar and were altogether pleased with it and hung out a fair bit with the guys and at the bar!
This is a small rental centre at the most upwind end of the bay stocking Mistral /North kit for hire. Unfortunately it suffers from a wind shadow close to the beach.
There is reasonable kit and facilities available here and the centre has an adjoining bar /restaurant and shop.
This is a small centre with limited and well-used equipment but redeems itself with the high level of local sailors that work here and train freestyle regularly on the water. The centre attaches itself to Café Pitu which has a nice Caribbean vibe and some interesting characters who drop by!
Villa Tarina Surf
This centre sits downwind and stocks a good range of equipment.
Club Natalie Simon
You will find Neil Pryde, Taboo and Fanatic kit herein good condition. The only disadvantage is that this centre sits the most downwind and next to the kite beach on the boarder with all the kiters!