What to do in Cabarete, DR
December 18, 2007 8:11 AM   Subscribe

We are going to the Dominican Republic for Christmas. What should we do/see/explore/not miss while we're there?

Thanks in large part to answers found in an earlier thread on AskMeFi, we decided to head to the Dominican Republic for the holiday. We are flying in Christmas night, returning New Year's Eve. We will be staying in Cabarete, on the North coast, and don't have any plans to rent a car so we'll be dependent on public transportation to get around.

I'm looking for advice on things to do and see, and any information people who have been there before have to offer would be great. We're staying at the Hotel Alegria, and will have a small kitchen to cook meals as needed.

Your advice helped us choose our destination - now help us choose what to do!

p.s. - We don't currently windsurf (the #1 thing to do in Cabarete), but we do enjoy all water sports and are hoping to scuba dive and snorkel while there. We are both active and healthy young adults, so most outdoor activities would be suitable.
posted by DuckGirl to Travel & Transportation around Cabarete, Dominican Republic (10 answers total)
Oooo. I know a bunch of hospitality people in Cabarete. There's a great pizza place in Cabarete run by an Italian Ex-pat. Also, there is great fried chicken that can be bought at the Esso station if you want snacks. Dining can be hit or miss as I had the worst club sandwich in the history of Man there at the HexenKessel, made with roast beef and ketchup among other things.

There is at least one school giving windsurfing, kiteboarding and maybe parasailing lessons, so you always have the option to learn while you're there. There is also a massage therapist to treat your ills if you overdo it physically.

There is a supermarket at the west end of town; I don't recall where Alegria is, whether it's right by the supermarket or on the other side of town.

There are lots of dance clubs on the beach in Cabarete, as well as a few bars. EZE Bar (run by a Bulgarian of questionable morals but impeccable hospitality) is good for a nice sandwich and a drink while you watch the beach. There is also a surf-gear shop out back with good prices. Jose O'Shay's is a weird fusion of Irish pub and latin bar that must be experienced first-hand, but don't order any of their "hundreds of available beers" as they are generally cans that are well past their expiry date. Stick to Presidente.

Your hotel will probably have brochures in the lobby for tours, though you need to be careful as there can be wide variations in consistency between organizers, as well as all sorts of hidden fees and gratuities not mentioned in the upfront price.

To go long distances there are cabs which are comfortable, and minibusses which are cheap but ridiculously crowded.
posted by cardboard at 8:35 AM on December 18, 2007

I spent about two weeks in DR, so I can throw some advice your way.

Do either of you speak Spanish?
posted by waylaid at 8:40 AM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: I speak Spanish, he does not. We probably want to avoid situations where we'd have to depend entirely on my Spanish-speaking skills, as they are of the "college & high school and not much since" variety....
posted by DuckGirl at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2007

Sosua is interesting and should be fairly close. IIRC it is like a half hour via hire taxi. During WWII, Trujillo invited Jewish refugees from Hitler there so you might see addresses like Avenida Bernstein or something similar. There are still some holdouts. Great combination of cultures.

If you are adventurous, you can hike up Pico Duarte, the highest point in the Caribbean - they actually get frost in the winter - and search for rare parrots. That is a bit far from Cabarete via public transportation. Plus the time it takes to hike up and down might cost three days.

FYI - Domincan Spanish, similar to Puerto Rican and Cuban Spanish takes a bit of getting used to. Similar to New Yorkers' (or Down Easters) dropping R's, Dominicans tend to drop S's. If you can get by in a bodega in Boston, then you are well on your way.
posted by xetere at 9:57 AM on December 18, 2007

I expect you've already checked out Active Cabarete?

We've been 3 times to Cabarete in the last 11 years because I'm a perpetually-struggling windsurfer, but there's tons of other things to do.

Mama Iguana organises mtn bike tours and hikes, etc, from easy to gnarly. We've done two easy bike tours and loved them.

No Work Team organises surf lessons. I don't know where there's snorkelling... Sosua maybe.

We found Cabarete to be laid back, friendly and safe, but we're not the clubbing-til-4am-types.

We liked El Magnifico the best, but we also liked Hotel Caracol.

I'm jealous... have a great time.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:30 AM on December 18, 2007

The Samana pennisula is gorgeous, and the beaches there (Playa Rincon) are exceptional. Amazing, in fact. Not really touristy at all yet, but it's probably next on the list.

I went there with the Lonely Planet Guidebook (not recommended) and the Rough Guide book (recommended), as well as a Dominican.

Puerto Plata might be worth checking out for the museum or two, old Spanish fort, and

Dominican spanish is like PR/Cuban Spanish, yes. Very fast and drops a lot of letters. A lot of regional slang that is not apparent immediately, but you probably can puzzle it out.

Taxis might be pricey, but if you are aventurous and want to try guagua (minibuses), these are cheap and interesting.
posted by waylaid at 12:31 PM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: This is great, thanks for all the information. Does anyone have recommendations about the local food? Will it be safe for us to buy fresh produce and cook for ourselves, or do you think eating out for most meals is better?
posted by DuckGirl at 1:07 PM on December 18, 2007

Eating out is fine. In fact, it's very cheap. Simple fare at a comedor or something would be a buck or two. We ate at an Italian restaruant on the Samana waterfront for like $5-6 an entree.
posted by waylaid at 1:13 PM on December 18, 2007

On the other hand, I don't know how expensive Cabarete is, given that it's a surfer (gringo) haven. Stay away from more touristy parts and you won't pay nearly nearly as much.
posted by waylaid at 1:13 PM on December 18, 2007

I didn't go to the supermarket in Cabarete, but the one in Sosua looked fine, although prices were high (to be expected on an island).
posted by cardboard at 1:33 PM on December 18, 2007

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