Kiteboarding on Kite Beach, Cabarete: Lessons, Schools, Tips & Where to Stay
Ever wonder if you could learn an extreme sport? In Cabarete, first-time kiteboarders are learning the sport in as little as nine hours, with lessons. Kiteboarding, also called kitesurfing, isn't easy by any stretch, but with enough perseverance, some skill, the right conditions, and perhaps a little luck, you could literally be getting up on your own, flying your kite, and zipping across the waves after just a few afternoons of instruction.
Cabarete is rated as one of the top destinations in the world for kiteboarding. Kite Beach, where the kiteboarding action takes places, sees consistent afternoon winds, has an offshore reef to protect from the waves, and sports an abundance of good kiting schools. Add to that a trendy town with beachside restaurants and hotels that buzz with kiters, surfers, windsurfers, backpackers, and curious tourists, and this makes a perfect destination to learn kiting.
Kiteboarding Schools in Cabarete
Lessons are offered by numerous schools along Kite Beach. If you're interested in just sampling the sport, with an introduction to the basics and learning to control the kite, you can sign up for a two-hour small group Kiteboarding Lesson. Even if you aren't interested in taking up kitesurfing, this is a good way to learn about what's going on and get a basic understanding of what kiteboarders are doing when they're out on the water.
If you are really interested in learning the sport and getting up on the board, it's best to try one of the quality kiteboarding schools. Most schools offer private or semi-private lessons, either by the hour or for a set number of hours at a better price. Rates are generally quite reasonable, especially considering the equipment is included in the price. Equipment rental, without lessons, can be pricey.
Freelance kiteboarding instructors may offer you lessons on the beach, but if they are not associated with a school, or if they offer a suspiciously low price for lessons, it probably means they are not an IKO (International Kiteboarding Organization) certified instructor and not the best option.
Big Willy's Kite School
Big Willy's Kite School, located at the Kite Beach Hotel, in the center of the action on Kite Beach, is one of the best. This school is relatively new to Cabarete, but the owner, Wilson Tavares, was Cabarete's first pro-boarder and is a bit of a legend in the Dominican Republic. He was instructing long before he opened Big Willy's. Wilson has also hired highly skilled and experienced instructors who focus on safety as well as teaching.
Introductory lesson options include private or semi-private lessons, with hourly rates or multi-hour rates. If you are committed to getting up on the board and learning the sport, sign up for a nine-hour package and do your lessons over three afternoons. If you decide after a few hours this isn't for you, the price simply reverts to the hourly rate, so you are not on the hook for the entire nine hours.
Dare2Fly Kiteboarding School
Another popular kiting school is Dare2Fly Kiteboarding School, in front of the Agualina Kite Resort, right on Kite Beach. If you are coming to Cabarete to spend a few days taking lessons, the combination of this beachfront hotel and the convenience of the on-site kiting school is hard to beat. The hotel has rooms with kitchens, and all the rooms have windows and balconies facing the ocean. This kiteboarding school has been in operation since 1999.
Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding School
Another big name in Cabarete is the Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding School, located on Cabarete Beach, just around the corner from Kite Beach. This is a convenient location if you are staying at the Millennium Resort & Spa or the nearby all-inclusive Viva Wyndham Tangerine. Laurel is an experienced kiteboarder with a good reputation. This location can see larger waves, which sometimes makes conditions more challenging for learners, but its proximity to downtown Cabaret is perfect if you are traveling with non-kiters who are not interested in staying on Kite Beach. Laurel also has a storefront with some fun and interesting items for sale.
GoKite Cabarete and Kite Club are the two other reputable kiteboarding schools on Cabarete's Kite Beach worth looking into.
Learning to Kiteboard: What to Expect from Lessons
Wilson, of Big Willy's Kite School, says first timers can pick up the basics of kiteboarding in nine to twelve hours of lessons. This is not the case for everyone, but if you have done any sailing or have some snowboarding experience, you'll be at a definite advantage. Regardless, lessons are broken down into digestible steps and move at a pace that's suited to your progress.
While different schools may have different techniques, there is usually a general progression that involves the following process. The first step is to master the kite. You're given a small training kite that does not attach to your body and some basic instructions on how to use the handle, followed by time to practice. Afterwards, you advance to a larger four-string kite that attaches to your body, and learn how to use this piece of equipment. An instructor is, or should be, with you at all times, to stabilize you and keep you on the ground. Depending on your level of experience, this step can take an entire afternoon.
The next phase of learning is in the water. With the kite attached, you will learn how to drag yourself through the water in different directions using your kite. Again, this can take quite some time to master. You need to be able to move yourself through the water with the kite before you advance to using a board.
The final step involves adding the board. This is where things can get a lot more complicated. Even if you have quickly progressed through the first two phases, you need to be patient when it comes to putting it altogether with the board and the kite. The first few tries may not be as successful as you'd hoped. However, once you can get up, stay up, and learn to get up again if you go down, you're well on your way. At this point, you may be hooked on the sport!
Once your lessons are complete, and you are able to kiteboard on your own, a certain amount of supervision may still be included with your package. This allows you a chance to practice and gain confidence, with someone nearby to help out if you run into trouble.
This is a very simplistic overview of the lessons, and you'll also learn to rig, launch, and land the kite, basic terms, and safety practices. If you already have some experience kiteboarding, you can still take advanced lessons and hone your skills.
If you are a novice kiteboarder but not interested in full instruction, you can also hire someone to monitor you while you're out on the water. These people can be hired through the schools, and they will assist in launching your kite and help out if you run into trouble.
Where to Stay on Kite Beach or near Cabarete Beach
If you are serious about coming to Cabarete to kiteboard, you should stay in the vicinity of Kite Beach, either right along Kite Beach or on the west side of downtown Cabarete, which will put you in easy walking distance of Kite Beach. This is where all the kiters hang out and there is plenty of opportunity to socialize and pick up tips from other kiters, either on the beach, in the restaurants, or around your hotel pool.
- Luxury Hotels: One of the best hotels, located between Cabarete and Kite Beach and easily walkable to the beachfront restaurants of Cabarete and to Kite Beach, is the Ultravioleta Boutique Residences. This is a luxury beachfront property, with an infinity pool, featuring one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, including penthouse suites with rooftop lounges. Another upper-end hotel is the Millennium Resort & Spa, located beachfront, immediately west of Cabarete's famous stretch of beachside dining. This resort also offers a range of suites, from studios to three-bedroom units, all of which feature modern and spacious rooms with kitchens or kitchenettes.
- Mid-Range Hotels: With a premier position on Kite Beach, Agualina Kite Resort features large rooms and suites, all of which look out over Kite Beach, and has a beachfront pool. The Viva Wyndham Tangerine is an all-inclusive resort with reasonable weekly rates. This is a mid-range property with a lovely beachfront location, just a short stroll from the lively restaurants of Cabarete and about a 20-minute walk to Kite Beach along the oceanfront. The Kite Beach Inn, located right on Kite Beach, is another good-value hotel with a pool.
- Budget Hotels: Budget-minded travelers can find some good deals in Cabarete, off the beach. Getting out to Kite Beach is quite easy. Mini buses, known as guaguas, run regularly and offer cheap transportation between all points in Cabarete and Kite Beach, which is located just a few kilometers west of downtown. The Hummingbird is a cute little budget inn with a pool, located right in the heart of Cabarete.