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Trip Report Cabarete trip report

I just returned from my 4th trip to Cabarete and thought I'd share a few of my recommendations.

First trip I stayed at Villa Taina. This hotel has a great location and wonderful staff. They are right on the beach two doors down from bars and restaurants. They also have a great restaurant in front and provide windsurfing and kite surfing lessons. Franz and Torsten are wonderful instructors. Also try the hot chocolate at the bar - I know it's crazy in the caribean but a local introduced me to it and it's some of the best I've had.

Second trip, stayed at a condo at Bahia Arena. It's a nice little subdivision on the beach but quite a long walk to bars and restaurants. We usually took a motoconcho.

Third trip, stayed at Sans Souci - near Janet's supermarket. It's a good budget option. Right on the beach, great location, easy walk from the bars but in a quiet area. Rooms are definitely NOT fancy. There's another Sans Souci right near the bars and restaurants. I've heard that one is way too loud.

Fourth trip, stayed at Hotel Alegria. Also near Janet's supermarket. Great location. More charm and character than Sans Souci. Good budget option.

LAX on the beach has great pizza. Onno's has good lunch. both are great night spots. Really all the restaurants are good. Papi's and El Pescador are known for great seafood. Go to Janet's or one of the other grocery stores for coffee as a souvenir. Same stuff as the tourist shops for 1/2 the price. 80 pesos a pound. Really good coffee!

Activities: Check out Iguana Mama. They have a really great friendly multi-lingual staff. We did a short day hike in Choco National Park. It was very muddy, and a bit slippery but not strenuous - a nice activity on a cloudy date. It's in Cabarete.

Horse back riding on the beach - this was a blast as the horses seemed to be racing each other at full gallop some of the time. Not for the faint of heart.

White water rafting at Rancho Baguite (sp) - we booked thru Iguana mama and wound up on a bus that picked up people at a bunch of AI's and made some tourist trap stops. We spent way too much time on the bus (9 hours) for a 2 hour trip on the river. The rafting was fun - pretty much all Class III's. Not much paddling. I would recommend driving to Rancho Baguite yourself or booking the more expensive private transport with Iguana Mama. Do not go the bus route! This spot is probably about a 2 1/2 hour drive if you go direct. The mountains are much cooler. Wear jeans and a sweatshirt. Bring tennis shoes or water shoes that will protect your toes or you'll wind up buying them when you get there. It is beautiful in the mountains and a good place to go on a cloudy day if you like a little exercise.

Windsurfing - lessons thru Villa Tainia. We didn't try kite surfing - it requires a 3 day commitment as I think you spend most of the first day learning about the wind and the kite on the beach.

Isabel de Torres - this is a mountain near Puerto Plata. There's a cable car up the mountain and then you can walk around. It's near Ocean World. The cable car is $6.00. You can drive yourself or book thru Iguana Mama. Only go on a clear day - the clouds overtake the mountain quickly and obscure the views.

Waterfallls and Canyoning - we didn't do this because it was too rainy on the days we planned to go. It looks like a lot of fun and more for the adventurous.

Mountain Biking - I think there are some great rides in Choco National Park.

Playa Grande - this is a great beach a couple hours to the East of Cabarete. Great waves for swimming, sandy bottom some surfing but I didn't see any shacks renting boards. Really beautiful. You can order fish or chicken and eat at plastic tables on the beach. More of a locals beach.

Sousua Beach - about 30 minutes from Cabarete. More of a tourist beach, but very pretty. We had coconut drinks brought to us as we lounged. You need to drive/take a taxi.

Encuentro Beach - about 2 miles from Cabarete. Known for surfing. There are a bunch of surf shacks providing lessons. Bring or rent water shoes - it's rocky with sea urchins. Not really a good place for swimming. You can get there by taxi or motoconcho.

It does rain a fair amount in Cabarete, so plan accordingly. Maybe brush up on the rules for dominoes and buy a set when your there. It seems to be the national past time next to baseball and politics. Dominoes and Presidentes. Or you could get a massage, check out the shops or get a manicure.

Clocks and Umbrellas: Janet's supermarket sells umbrellas in the back of the store. I didn't notice many other places selling them. There don't seem to be clocks anywhere in Cabarete. If you're used to relying on your cell phone and won't be carrying it, bring a watch! (preferably water resistant/proof)

Cell phones - roaming charges were outrageous. If you have a blackberry, turn off the data so you don't get incoming email and nailed with exorbitant roaming charges. don't answer the phone or make calls if you don't need to. You can probably buy a sim card at the orange store (there's one next to Janet's). Then incoming calls are free and you can buy calling cards and make calls for about 7 cents a minute I'm told.

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