Relaxation Like Never Before!
You feel like you are in heaven! Someone is always there ready to get you what you want and need. It is so Amazing
Mike Braun is leading our group on a canyoning expedition in the mountains south of Cabarete in the Dominican Republic. For almost three hours, we’ve been humping it over boulders, climbing over fallen trees, rappeling down waterfalls, and leaping 50 feet into prehistoric pools carved by the river. This particular route is called the “Big Bastard,” and that little pool below us is a good 100 feet down. “When I first came here and saw this hole, I said, 'Wow, that’s a big bastard,’” informs Mike. So we jump down into the Bastard hurtling at breakneck speed past jagged rocks and splash hard into the chilly water. Then at the Magic Mushroom waterfall, I slip during the rappel and slide sideways along the rock face before disappearing under the waterfall torrent. When the ravine finally flattens out, we have to cross the shallow river without stepping on the slippery moss-covered rocks. “Stay off the green rocks,” Mike shouts out. Helpful. Whoosh, I slip off one of the rocks and fall on my knees. My thighs are screaming and my backpack has fallen over the front of my head. “There's no grace and dignity in canyoning,” laughs Mike. This coming from a man with the ankles of a rhino. When we stumbled out of the canyon after three hours, I'd pushed myself to the limit. It’s a real catharsis to feel so fully spent, even if you can’t feel your legs. Since then, Mike moved to Zanzibar. Iguana Mama Eco-Tours in Cabarete now leads groups into the Bastard.
Located right on Kite Beach in Cabarete, this place is home to many activities on site including a jiu jitsu dojo, yoga loft, cross fit gym, flying trapeze, pool, and beach front restaurant/bar, and best of all: a kite school. Whether you want to find your inner zen, or get in the best shape of your life, this place accommodates all aspirations. Its the greatest vacation for someone who wants to grow, learn, or develop a new skill.
The first thing you notice when you sidle up to the approximately eight foot bar (that’s pretty much all there is to Mojito Bar, besides some chairs on the beach) are the melons. The pineapples. The oranges, papaya, watermelons and more—all beautifully on display. Thankfully, all those round goodies aren’t just for show either. Nope, every drink you order is made fresh from a little squeeze of this or a pinch that. For me on my last visit, I couldn’t fathom ordering anything but the namesake drink, and with co-owner Sonia behind the bar, I knew I’d also be getting that special ingredient. Instead of just lime juice, it also has lime slices in it’s beautiful depths, but that’s not what makes it so special… I pick up my bright mojito and take a sip—all the while under the smiling gaze of Sonia. Ahhhh… There it is. Love. The not-so-secret ingredient found in every drink at Mojito Bar. Even better, in this case love comes cheap! One mojito costs just 100 pesos! That’s around $3 US! If you’re hungry (which you should be when visiting) you can get an Italian ciabatta sandwich on fresh baked bread and an equally fresh fruit juice for just 120 pesos. And as if all this inexpensive love wasn’t enough, Mojito Bar even does a two-for-one happy hour every day from 3 to 5 (except Tuesday’s when they’re closed). Two love laced mojitos made with all fresh ingredients for just $3! You simply can’t go wrong.
Cabarete is called "the action sports capital of the Caribbean" for a reason. On any given day, the bay is packed with kites towing boarders every which way. Just up the street are excellent surf breaks and in between paddleboarders chill or chase waves themselves. It's a special place that draws a special kind of traveller and few places cater to that crowd better than the Millennium Luxury Resort. From the moment you walk through the front door at its convenient location in the center of the beach, you get this place. Billowing fabrics hung around the circular welcome area let you know that this is a different kind of adventure sports hotel… The kind that pulls off the amazing trick of feeling like South Beach Delano “Simple Chic” meets the Dominican Republic. The rooms feature sharp lines contrasted by layered curves, immaculately white… well… everything, and tasteful kiteboardering photography. Somehow, in stark contrast to all that simple chic (served up DR style), the rates are actually quite affordable. Rooms begin with garden view suites as low as $100 per night and go up to around $550 per night for the Penthouse during high-season. So, whether you're a pro kiteboarder or just a guy who spends most of the time dragging himself, face first, through the surf (like me), you won’t want to pass up The Millennium Resort in Cabarete. You may go for the kiteboarding, but you’ll fall in love with the style.
Velero is a relatively small resort sporting just 60 rooms ranging in size from 50 to 200 square meters. All rooms feature direct views of the ocean, plus all the amenities you’d expect: central air, internet access, cable TV, etc. To be sure, my room was pleasant on a recent stay, but the real draw is beyond the confines of the suites. On the grounds there's a huge palm tree motif created by artfully designed walkways. Around 12:30 or 1:00, the winds pick up and the kiteboarding faithful head for the water filling the skies over Cabarete are full of billowing kites—dancing this way and that. It’s a pretty amazing sight. Plus, at night Cabarete comes alive with local flavors, expat bars, and clubs that pound out rhythms into the wee hours of the night.
Believe me, kiteboarding is as awesome as it looks, and there’s no place better to catch the fever than in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, and no better school than Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding. Courses will run you around $66 per hour, but the feelings of freedom and speed as you skim across the waves under kite power are priceless. Before opening the best kiteboarding school in the Dominican Republic, Laurel was a rider on the pro-kiteboarding circuit, even being named 2002 Woman of the Year by the Kiteriders Professional World Tour and winning the 2003 North Sea Championship! And on top of being so accomplished, she’s probably the nicest person you’re ever likely to meet. It was probably the single most awesome sporting experience I’ve ever had and I’ve already begun planning my next kiteboarding experience!
Doing yoga to the sounds of the surf on Kite Beach? Amazing! Yoga Cabarete is located almost on top of the sand at Kite Beach. You can namaste to the sunrise and sunset, as the beach faces North, and watch as kite boarders throw themselves to the wind in the wild Atlantic waves.
Even though Puerto Plata is a city set by the ocean, it only takes about 30 minutes to be completely engulfed in the jungle. At the 27 Charcos waterfall park on the banks of the Damajagua River, there are 27 different waterfalls which tumble their way down through the turquoise pools of the river valley. After a moderate trek through the sweltering jungle to the top of the series of waterfalls, you can then jump, slide, and swim your way down back to the base of the park. While there are many tour operators that offer a visit to the Damajagua waterfalls, those who are young, agile, and adventurous should consider visiting on their own. When visiting as part of a package tour you are only allowed to the 12th waterfall, and you're also dealing with a mass of humanity who crowd their way into the canyon. For those who are looking to experience the solitude and tranquility found in the forest, you're better off taking a taxi to the park to maximize your time on the river.
Perched above El Recon Beach, Kiosco is a lazy day waiting to happen. Your only lesson may be on the three B's: Brugal, Barcello, and Bermudez. All ron (rum) worth whiling away the hours with. Don't forget to order up a little pollo a la planca (grilled chicken) or other local staple while you're there before wandering down to the beach for a swim.
The Dominican Republic is home to some of the Caribbean’s best world class surf breaks. The North, East and South coasts of the Dominican Republic all experience different swell and seasonal surfing conditions. The North coast, bordering on the Atlantic Ocean, is the most consistent year-round surf, but the absolute best conditions are typically from September to the end of March. This shot was taken at Encuentro Surf Beach a little west of Cabarete and home to the best breaks in the area.
Thanks to its natural riches of the semi-precious gem, the northern coastline of the Dominican Republic has gained the moniker of "The Amber Coast." While the title has now come to reflect the sunshine, adventure, and recreation opportunities which are available along the country's northern shoreline, shopping for amber is still a favorite among those who are looking for the precious gemstones. Here, amber stones are prominently displayed by a beachfront store in Sosua.
Before you even enter the small road-side shop, you begin to get an idea that this place isn’t like your average Dunkin Donuts back home. Right up front is a huge sign with their list of “Daily Practices.” It starts with some basics of the product: "All fruits and vegetables are washed in purified water. We buy local, organic coffee." Indeed, in every cup of coffee they serve, you’ll find organic, shade-grown, hand-picked, freshly-roasted, fair-trade Dominican Republic coffee. This stuff is the real deal. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, I should let you know they also produce cocoa the same way — organically grown in the foothills of Rio San Juan by a new all women’s cooperative of cocoa growers to ensure sustainability.
OK, so there's this Italian eatery named Pomodoro Pizzeria right off the beach in Cabarete, Dominican Republic run by a couple born-and-bred Italians and it's one of the best places in the bay for mamajuana? Crazy, but true and Paolo would be happy to show you why! What's mamajuana? The native bush rum of the Dominican Republic, mamajuana’s origins stretch all the way back to the days when Taino Indians ruled Hispañola. A lot has changed since then, though. Today’s mamajuana combines rum, red wine, honey and various tree barks, herbs and other assorted sticks, roots and leaves to create a powerfully-pungent flavor experience best left to the fearless. But who wouldn't trust that face? Belly up to the bar and give it a shot. You'll be happy you did.
My travelmates and I were en route to a holistic health center in Tubagua when this Dominican family zoomed past on a motorbike. I've been to several places in the Caribbean, and I know that motorcycle helmets tend to be a faux pas, but I'd never seen someone holding a baby on the back of a motorcycle before - much less without a helmet! This image gives me great insight into what everyday life in the Dominican Republic is really like.
A motoconcho is a taxi “motorcycle” (sometimes closer to a moped) in the Dominican Republic. A quick ride across town should cost around 50 pesos or $1.50 US. Motoconchos are definitely a popular and economical way for locals to get around. Just be extra, extra careful should you hire your own.
Cabarete is one of those unique travel destinations that's extremely active during the day maintaining its title of "Action Sports Capital of the Caribbean", but somehow still manages to keep the party going beyond the wee hours and into the proper morning of the next day. Should you find yourself partying after a long day of kiteboarding, don't cut your night short! Going 'til sunup has it's rewards.
The Mundo King art museum holds an astonishingly beautiful collection of Dominican and Haitian art. It is easy to spend several hours there without even noticing. It is an expansive "palace" without equal. Pay a small tip to the local guy who keeps an eye on the place and he will show you everything. It is definitely worth the visit! I will attach additional pics as well.
In true beach town atmosphere, Cabarete trades swanky nightclubs for beach bars right on the sand. Palm trees and comfortable lounge chairs line the tropical shore, and you can sip Cuba Libres until the moon fades into the sea. Here, a full moon rises over the bars of Cabarete as the crowds prepare for the night.
Thanks to its northerly-facing location and the pattern of Caribbean weather systems, the town of Cabarete has conditions for kitesurfing almost 300 days per year. More than just the consistency, however, what makes this such a dream destination for kitesurfing is the combination of warm water, playful surf, and a protected lagoon on the inside of the reef which is shallow and perfect for learning. Even though professional kitesurfers from across the globe will visit the waters of Cabarete, there are numerous kitesurfing schools lining the beach for those looking to pick up a new hobby. At schools such as Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding School, first-timers will begin on the sand and learn to fly the kite before eventually taking to the water. The wind usually picks up during the early afternoon hours and lasts until about 5pm, leaving the morning free for surfing, paddleboaring, or recovering from a late night at the beach bars.
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