The conditions for windsurfing in Cabarete are so perfect that the whole bay could have been designed specifically with this in mind. The trade winds normally blow from the east, meaning that they sweep across the bay from right to left allowing easy passage both out to the offshore reefs and back to the beach. Downwind, the waters lap onto the amusingly named Bozo Beach, which will catch anybody unfortunate to have a mishap. The offshore reef provides plenty of surf for the experts who ride the waves, performing tricks and some spectacular jumps. The reef also shelters the inshore waters so that on all but the roughest of winter days the waters remain calm. The morning winds are little more than a gentle breeze and this, coupled with the flat water, makes the bay ideal for beginners, especially in summer when the surface can resemble a mirror. Then, as the temperature rises, the trade winds kick in big-time and the real show starts. Take some binoculars if you want to see the action out on the reef. Two kilometres west of Playa Cabarete, the white-sand Kite Beach has become a massive international hub for kiteboarding. In many ways similar to windsurfing, but using a much smaller, more manoeuvrable board and relying on a huge C-shaped kite to provide the power instead of a sail, kiteboarding requires less wind.
Schools and equipment rental
Cabarete Windsports Club t 571-0784, w www.cabaretewindsportsclub.com. A small and friendly centre just in front of the Villa Taina, with which it is affiliated. The clientele is mainly German, but English, French and Italian are spoken as well. Very personalized and good for families, they’ll even take beginners onto a lagoon to start. US$150 for three sessions windsurfing (1.5–3hr depending on group size) on the water and US$230 for the same time kiteboarding; US$50 equipment rental.
Fanatic t 571-0861, w www.fanatic-cabarete.com. Small, friendly operation that gives students a lot of personal attention and has a nice beach bar serving tasty cocktails. Lesson in surfing (3hr US$41), kiteboarding in small groups of 2–3 (2hr lesson US$83) or windsurfing (5hr over several days US$177). Spanish lessons also on offer.
Kite Club t 571-9748, w www.kiteclubcabarete.com. Well-organized IKO-affiliated club, which also runs instructors’ courses, and has a lively club (membership from US$20/week) and café on the beach. A three-day beginner’s package (9 hours) costs US$382 (in a group of two).
Kitexcite t 571-9509, w www.kitexcite.com. One of the original kiteboard schools on Kite Beach, and part of the Kite Beach Hotel. German-run but staff who can teach in English, French, Spanish, Russian or Italian. US$280 for an 8hr beginner’s course, slightly more for a course using radio helmets to give instant feedback on your performance on the waves.
Laurel Eastman Kiteboard Center Apart-Hotel Caracol t 571-0564, w www.laureleastman.com. School founded by a legendary female kitesurfer who does the best job of training newbies, with four-day private courses for US$460 and four-day group lessons for US$425.
Vela/Spinout/Dare2Fly t 571-0805, w www.velacabarete.com. German-owned and the best-stocked of Cabarete’s windsurf centres with free daily clinics and a lively social scene at the adjoining bar. US$255 for a week’s kiteboarding equipment rental. Their Dare2Fly station on Kite Beach offers equipment rental and lessons daily. US$390 for a three-day introductory course with equipment.