A week in the Dominican Republic, learning kiteboarding

Earlier in February, Alli and I took a week off from work to travel to the Dominican Republic, in order to learn kiteboarding.  Apparently many folks don’t know what kiteboarding is, so you might want to watch the video below.

We learned about a small town in the Dominican Republic called Cabarete, which has excellent beaches and schools for the purpose of kiteboarding in particular.  It’s not a big town and not a huge tourist attraction, although we were not the only ones there.  It’s a fairly simple, cheap place: no big luxury resorts.

We stayed at the Kite Beach Hotel, which was great.  From our initial emails all the way through our stay, the hotel was awesome.  Janina, the guest relations manager, as well as all the staff, were very courteous, friendly, and helpful.  The price is right, and the hotel is literally right on the beach: you can easily stumble to the beach once you wake up, no need for shoes or anything else.

We took kiteboarding lessons at Kitexcite, the school attached to our hotel.  Our instructor, Jonathan, was patient and friendly as we struggled.  Although we didn’t get up on the board by ourselves, we made progress through the learning stages: flying the kite on the beach, controlling it in the water, body dragging, and other exercises.

I vastly under-estimated how much power these kites produced.  I got bounced and dragged around several times, including a nice one on the beach in front of a bunch of folks, losing some good patches of skin in the process.  Those injuries are still healing.

The kites, and the sport, are impressive and addictive.  It’s much harder than it looks on TV or in videos such as the above.   But both Alli and I are hooked and are purchasing our own gear.  We’re also planning future trips to Cabarete and other kiteboarding sites.

One cool thing about the hotel is that it’s small and has one (good) bear restaurant / bar, so all the guests hang out there.  You meet everyone, from all over the world, sharing stories and hanging out.  Everyone was more experienced than us, naturally.  Many people come back there regularly, and some had even bought condos / apartments / houses in the area.

The town itself is nice and small.  There’s a beach-front area with a few restaurants, a couple of which also have dancing / club areas.  There’s one main street with a few shops on it, nothing fancy.  There are also a couple of local restaurants which are very cheap and simple, which we really enjoyed: Sandro’s and Padarilla Luis in particular.

Overall, it was one of our best vacations ever.  We were there a week and felt like it was short.  We are already planning a return trip in the future, and anxiously monitoring weather (wind) conditions for good timing.  Both the hotel and the kiteboarding school are recommended.

Our pictures are up on Flickr, but you need to be friends with me on Flickr to see them.