Cabarete, Dominican Republic – heaven on earth

If you know me at all, you’ll already know that Cabarete in the Dominican Republic is pretty much my favorite place on earth. My family spends a ton of time there and over the years I feel like its more like going home than anywhere else in the world. The weather is amazing, the people are fantastic, and the kiteboarding is some of the best in the world. I love everything about it!!!!

Since I heavily recommend going to check it out for yourself, I wanted to make sure you could check out all the best spots so that you end up loving it as much as I do! Restaurants, night life, kiting, surfing, how to get there, everything you need to know is below. 🙂


Restaurants

Kite Beach

Kite Club – My favorite lunch spot on the beach with the best fish tacos! Ask for tacos pescados picante for a little spice! What’s even better is they use all fresh ingredients so sometimes the tacos are a little different based on what they have fresh and available that day. Some days you’ll get avocado, or cucumber, other days they’ll have peppers, and always the pineapple salsa on the side! They also serve the tacos with two tortillas, a soft shell with a hard shell inside of it!!! And of course always mahi mahi or dorado which is the local fish. It’s always a fun surprise to see what my tacos look like that day. 🙂 The fish burger is also amazing and they have many other options on the menu as well and specials like the kiters special. The vibes here are amazing as well, sitting outside with the wind in your hair, watching the kite crowd come in and out of the water, huge smiles on their faces from an epic session.

Downtown Cabarete

On the beach

Pomodoro – The best Italian restaurant with my absolute favorite food in all of Cabarete (personal favs include the gnocchi cuatro queso, gnocchi salsa rosada, cuatro queso pizza and the azua salad!) they have so many different fresh pastas, pizzas and salads. We always go multiple times every trip!
La Casita de Papi – This seafood haven is known for their shrimp and prawn that are doused in a buttery garlic sauce and served in a massive pan for multiple people to share. They have a few other options like the local dorado but if you like prawn or shrimp that’s the way to go. It comes with side options but the crispy potatoes are absolutely the best. They also have a crazy banana flambé for dessert that they’ll carry out to your table completely on fire!
Tuva – This upscale restaurant has some of the best food in town with a gorgeous interior featuring trendy decor. It is not quite downtown (it’s closer to kite beach between kite beach and downtown Cabarete) but it is the fanciest restaurant in Cabarete that you can’t miss (even JoJo from the bachelorette went there when she was in Cabarete!). The food is delicious and I am always excited to start out with their Burrata and the Tuna Tartare followed by the Paccheri Toma La Luna. The risotto is also incredible and rich and they have a nice selection of seafood as well. The design of the restaurant is so edgy, decadent and beautiful all at the same time with multiple different kinds of luxurious chairs at each table and various upside down lamps hanging from the ceiling. The juxtaposition works and you feel like you’re in a fancy Alice in Wonderland inspired room with extreme class and taste. An oversized mirror leans against one wall to solidify the effect and also makes for a perfect mirror selfie. If you’re looking for a romantic date spot, this is it.

Right off the beach

Vagamundo – The perfect breakfast or brunch spot with alllll of the beach vibes (even though it isn’t technically on the beach, it is on the beachside of the road between kite beach and downtown Cabarete). It is absolutely the cutest breakfast spot in town serving amazing Belgian style waffles, smoothie bowls, and rice protein bowls. They’re also known for having really good coffee and is one of the only places in Cabarete where you can get a chai tea latte or a matcha latte! The smoothie bowl are delicious and healthy but the waffles are decadent and amazing. Just sayin, don’t skip the waffles! Or ideally you can share with a friend  to try a little bit of both. 🙂 Vagamundo has the beachy coffee shop decor down and they have an incredible mission where they employ, train and mentor kids from the DR, Venezuela & South Sudan. Definitely go check it out and support!
Le Bistro – This french restaurant is an adorable little spot in a cute cobblestone alley between the street and the beach at the very beginning of downtown Cabarete. Their appetizers are phenomenal, especially all of the ones that involve cheese, and the main courses are delicious as well. The perfect casual cool restaurant for night out downtown.
Spaghetti e Pizza – As you might imagine from the name, they serve pasta & pizza! The pizza here is really good and there is a cool outdoor patio where you can enjoy your dinner.
Gorditos – Cabarete’s version of chipotle! I always get burritos but they have many different options including tacos, etc. This is a quick and easy take out spot in the shopping center between downtown Cabarete and kite beach. They do have tables you can sit at outside (we’ve done it multiple times and always enjoyed ourselves since the weather is so amazing) but you’re basically in a parking lot so I recommend getting this to go for a day you want to just eat takeout at your place.

Callejon de la loma (if you turn off the main street that runs through Cabarete across from Ocean Dream)

Bliss – This Italian restaurant is on the fancier side with a pool in the middle of the outdoor patio. They have amazing salads, really good vegetarian lasagna and many pasta dishes with seafood. This is another perfect date night!
La Chabola – This is a super casual pizza place that has a happy hour with 2 for 1 pizzas and live music on Wednesday evenings. The perfect chill spot to grab a cerveza and chat with friends over pizza.
Pollo Luis? – I put a question mark because I’m not 100% sure that is the right name haha we always just call it the chicken man! It is a super casual place that only serves chicken, beans, rice and plantains which is typical Dominican food (they might also serve ribs or some other type of meat but everytime we go and someone orders that instead of chicken they always regret it. Since I don’t eat chicken or meat it isn’t really my favorite place but everyone else in my family loves it so it’s probably pretty awesome.

Kinda far, dope experience:

Blue Moon – At this Indian Caribbean fusion restaurant in the mountains, you sit on the ground and eat off of banana leaves! There are tons of cushions and pillows in the cool palapa where you sit in a massive circle with everyone at the restaurant that evening and eat. Go ready to make new friends or with a massive group to take up the whole place yourselves.
Castle Club – At this gorgeous villa in the mountains, you can enjoy a small intimate dinner with the owners of the villa. The “castle” or villa itself is most of the appeal but the views are great and offer an amazing photo op. It is also really interesting and fun to talk to the owners as they cook with you in their incredible kitchen, and eat with you in their home.
The Beach Club at Sea Horse Ranch – This upscale restaurant overlooking the ocean is the perfect place for a slightly earlier dinner in order to watch the sun set over the water from your dinner table.  The Beach Club has amazing salads (highly recommend the goat cheese salad), delicious pastas, and fresh seafood (family favorites include the shrimp curry and the dorado in coconut sauce). The beautiful atmosphere is perfected with the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks below. There’s also a fancy outdoor Swiss Family Robinson deck featuring string lights for a more romantic vibe.

Night Life

Going out in Cabarete is one of the most fun places to bar hop because all of the bars are along the beach! There is something for everyone so feel free to stop in any bar downtown but we typically hang out at our two favorites Voy Voy & Ojos!

Voy Voy – This chill bar is often full of expats who fell in love with Cabarete and stuck around. With surf videos playing on the wall this is the perfect bar to go meet other travelers or just hang with your crew and have a few drinks. Voy Voy also has specific activities on certain nights such as karaoke on Mondays and volleyball on Thursdays!

Ojos – This latin dance club has two floors of dancing fun! It typically is pretty empty until 10:30 pm or later but once the dance party gets going around 11/11:30 pm it can get packed and wild! Enjoy dancing to a mix of bachata, salsa, and some international top hits as it gets later in the night!

For a “to do” list so to speak of which spots to hit each night of the week, check the below which is what I typically do when I’m in Cabarete!

Monday – karaoke at Voy Voy
Tuesday – try a mojito from Mojito bar or my personal fav a frojito (frozen mojito!)
Wednesday – 2 for 1 pizza and live music at La Chabola
Thursday – Latin dancing at Ojos
Friday – “Just Dance” dance game (like DDR but better!) at Voy Voy
Saturday – anywhere and everywhere on the beach but also Ojos for dancing
Sunday – rest! You just partied all week!

Kiteboarding Lessons & Equipment Rentals on Kite Beach

There are tons of places all over Cabarete to get kiteboarding lessons even down in Cabarete bay at places like LEK (Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding), Vela, etc. but since we’ve always stayed on Kite Beach, we’ve always kited out there. I’m sure you can get great kite lessons at all of the kite schools though!
Kite Club – has great instructors, most of whom I’m actually really good friends with, are local and are all insanely good kiters. Also there are plenty of tables and chairs to just chill, watch the kiters, and enjoy the good vibes!
Dare2fly – has amazing equipment and is always using new Cabrinha gear! So if you’re the kind of person that thinks the only way to kite well is to use the best equipment, this is the spot for you!

Surfing

Encuentro – The surf beach in Cabarete called Encuentro is where every surfer in town can be found first thing in the morning. With multiple different surf schools spread out along the beach for any beginners needing lessons or intermediates needing to rent a board you can get set up quickly and head off into the water. Beginners I would highly recommend getting water shoes as well (they’ll rent them to you) because there are a ton of sea urchins in every nook and cranny of the reef and you’re bound to step on one! If you’re wearing your water shoes, you’ll be totally fine! The waves are always the best first thing in the morning because when the wind starts to pick up around noon for us kiters, the waves usually get blown out. If you’re not a surfer, just pop on over to Encuentro one morning anyways to watch the surfers play!

How to get to Cabarete!

Now that you’re sold on going to the best place ever, how do you get there?! The best airport is definitely Puerto Plata or POP. It’s the nicest, newest airport and the shortest ride to get to Cabarete taking you only 30 mins. It costs $40 for a ride from the airport to Cabarete. You even pass Playero which is our favorite supermarket on the way so you can stop and pick up groceries and food! If you’re going for a week or more, this is definitely the way to go. You can of course just grab a taxi from the airport but we always set up our pick ups ahead of time, that’s totally up to you!
Next best option if you’re looking for cheaper flights or more time options to maximize beach time (lookin at you New Yorkers trying to go for a long weekend) is Santiago or STI. This airport is definitely a bit older but does the trick! It’s further with an hour and a half drive on a windy road through the mountains to get to Cabarete. If you’re driving at night (which those long weekenders often are) there are minimal to no lights also so it can be a bit dangerous/scary driving. I recommend getting a local taxi driver to pick you up from the airport rather than renting a car to drive it yourself, but keep in mind it’ll cost you $100 for the ride so factor that in when you’re looking at how much cheaper the flights are. Also, highly recommend setting up your taxi ride before you land if you’re taking this route.

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