The North Coast Places



Wind and Kite Surfing

Between June and October, Cabarete Beach has what many consider to be optimal windsurfing conditions: wind speeds at 20 to 25 knots (they come from the side shore) and 3- to-10-foot Atlantic waves. This also makes Cabarete a safer alternative, since the wind always blows toward the shore here, a plus for both novices and the weary, who will always drift back toward the beach rather than out to sea. The Professional Boardsurfers Association has included Cabarete in its international windsurfing slalom competition. The novice is also welcome to learn and train on wider boards with light sails.

In kite surfing, the board—smaller than a traditional windsurfing board—is attached to a parachute-like "kite." Those who are proficient can literally fly through the air. It's a heady, adrenaline-spiked ocean adventure. One fortysomething novice explained that if you have surfed, it should only take about three hours to get the hang of it. As for the fear factor, it's there, but you will learn to control your kite. Novices can learn and train on wider boards with lighter sails.

Although one place offers an initial come-on for $20, which is just a trial run on the sand, real lessons in kite surfing don't come cheap. For private lessons, you should expect to pay $459 for 3 days (9 hours) or less; $612 or 4 days (12 hours). Group lessons can be cheaper; if you have a friend, you can take 3 days (9 hours) for $382 each, 4 days (12 hours) for $510 each.

Carib Wind Center. Windsurfing equipment and instruction are offered here, and lessons are generally $30 to $35 an hour; boards rent for $20 an hour. A gem of a club, this family-owned business has many repeat clients and is open year-round. In the complex is its beach bar, EZE, as well as a retail shop. It has all the paraphernalia for surfing and a good variety of sunglasses, including Maui Jim's, and some of the best bikinis, cute miniskirts, and dresses in town. Cabarete. 809/571–0640.

Kite Club. Kite Club, an International Kitesurfing Organization (IKO) Certification Center, is a fraternal sports club that has multilingual lessons, from beginner to instructor certification. Prospective students generally book in advance online. Those kiters (and part-time residents) who have their own gear pay inexpensive, weekly dues to belong. This covers the use of the beach furniture and the rescue boat if needed. Equipment can be rented, too, and the adjacent snack shop is open to all. Credit cards are accepted. Kite Beach, next to Ocean Point, Cabarete, 57000. 809/571–9748 or 829/650–0448.

Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding. Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding School (LEK) is one of the best-known and respected schools, offering a free lesson with certified instructors from 10:30 to 11 am daily. In four days, beginners can learn the theory of the wind and start using the smaller kite trainers. It may be exhilarating, but it isn't cheap. Four days of lessons (the amount of time it takes to be able to kiteboard on your own) costs $460. Millennium Resort & Spa, Cabarete, 57000. 809/571–0564.

Club Nathalie Simon. If you come to this sports club, don't ask to see Nathalie! (Yes, it's named after the French windboarder, but she is otherwise occupied. When Alain and Caroline Ponti bought the land here, they bought the franchise.) There are now six CNS outposts around the world. CNS is primarily a windboarding and kiteboarding school that also offers a wide range of on- and off-water activities, including standup paddling, surfing, kayaking, and horseback riding. Located directly at the entrance of both the windboard and kiteboard zones of Cabarete Bay, it also has on-site storage for equipment. On Cabarete Beach, next to The Palms condo, Cabarete, 57000. 809/571–0848.

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