The water sports town of Cabarete is a hidden gem in the Dominican Republic. It’s easy to spend days, months, or even become an expat here due to the warm community vibes and inspirational access to fitness and healthy lifestyles in this cozy beach town. But what makes Cabarete so special is that prioritizing your wellness is a value many in the community share. Here, wellness lifestyle habits can come more naturally with its healthier restaurant options, abundant outdoor/water activities, and contagiously relaxing vibes. So if you’re debating whether to head over to visit Cabarete on the Dominican northern shores but want to know more about the area… Here is a travel guide to the amazing things to do in Cabarete!
Transportation in Cabarete & How to Get Around
Cabarete is one of the easiest beach towns in the Dominican Republic for independent travel. Here are the many ways you can get around in Cabarete:
- Walking: Cabarete is a walkable town. I love walking along the beach (to avoid the narrow sidewalks). But you can also walk around from the beach to the many restaurants and shops in town. Especially if you are located in the downtown area.
- Private taxi: This is the most convenient way of getting around, especially if your time is more limited than your budget. You can hire a private taxi driver to take you to different places around the region for the day. This is perfect for the many Cabarete day trips listed below. Here are some numbers that I recommend:
- Wilton – he rides an 80s car, but his prices are affordable. From Cabarete downtown to Ruguma’s he charged us 700 pesos, whereas the other more modern taxis wanted to charge us over 1,000 pesos. This is a good alternative if you’re solo traveling and looking to cut costs. Call him at: (809)979-2966
- Rafa – Rafa is one of the most reliable taxistas in Cabarete. He is always on time, respectful, never tries to hit on me, detail-oriented, and will communicate things clearly. He’s more expensive by like 30%. But he’s worth the extra cost because of the quality of his service. This is his Whatsapp number: (809)912-5084. Highly recommend him for airport pick up too.
- Edinso – Edinso is younger and was interested in socializing with us about clubs and nightlife. We’re not about that life, so we had to set boundaries soon with him. After that, he was totally professional and easygoing. We met him through Rafa, here is his Whatsapp number: (829)644-9150.
- Concho: Motorcycle taxi services are one of the most popular ways for Dominican men to make money in Cabarete. It’s not an easy job, but there is always consistent demand. You’ll see them all over town, especially in the busy intersections. For about 50-100 pesos, you can ride a concho from one part of town to another. The price goes up the farther you go and at night.
- Carritos: I don’t recommend this unless you’re out of options. You’re basically squished into a tiny 80s carpool with 5 other people + the driver. The roof of the car is so low you can’t even sit on anyone’s lap, so you really have to squeeze in. And if you’re a woman alone, you miiiight risk getting hit on. Definitely hold on tight to your belongings. Cost is about 25 pesos, but it’s up to the driver’s mood/assessment of you. But also, don’t fight over a nickel.
- Vans/guaguas: Same concept as carritos but more spacious. Just like carritos, they go up and down the main streets, so you have to look outside and yell frantically when it’s your stop.
Where to Stay in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
There are three main areas to stay in the Cabarete region: Cabarete downtown, Playa Encuentro, and Kite Beach. You can also stay in special hotels/home rentals along the road between Playa Encuentro and Sosua. Here are the best hotel and home rentals I recommend depending on your budget.
- Hostel Laguna Park ($): Full disclosure: I’ve never stayed here. But if you’re truly on a tight budget, this dorm/hostel stay is an option.
- El Encuentro Surf Lodge ($$): A lovely place to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate by the pool (pictured above). You can rent a studio or an entire luxury villa. Perfect if you want to dedicate some time to learning how to surf. The Encuentro Beach with the beginnner surf schools is just a 10 minute walk away. Please note – this accomodation is 70 minutes walking from the Cabarete downtown area, so plan your transportation accordingly.
- Ultravioleta Boutique Residences ($$$): Everytime I try to spend some time here, it is full booked! This is by far one of the nicest-looking condos to stay right on the beach. Perfect for travelers who want more modern comfort and have higher budgets.
- Seahorse Ranch ($$$$$): These luxury villas are located within a gated residence. They are perfect for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle but be on the beach with a horse ranch and many other activites. Some of these villas are so big they can host up to 14 guests. There are different ones rented out by different owners. For example, this is one of the most luxurious ones, but you can also check out this villa and this one other.
Testing Centers in Cabarete
If you’re from one of the many countries that require a negative test before boarding your plane, Diagnostico Medico is the best testing center in Cabarete. It is located right in the downtown area, near Gorditos. Make sure to stop by the center to confirm their hours on the day you need to get tested. If it’s a holiday, arrive early. Prices start at around $50 U.S. dollars. They take credit cards. You’ll get your results through email or you can pick up the printed results in person.
More Dominican Republic Blog Posts:
- 48 Gorgeous Things to Do in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
- Understanding Dominican Culture & Traditions Before You Go
- 51 Things to Know Before You Travel to the Dominican Republic for the First Time
- The Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the Dominican Republic to Visit
- Why You Should Visit Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic’s Capital
- Traditional Dominican Foods You Have to Try & Their History
FUN & BEAUTIFUL THINGS TO DO IN CABARETE, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
1. Take Kitesurfing Lessons at Kite Beach
Cabarete is one of the best places, not just in the country, but in the world for kitesurfing. About a mile from Cabarete downtown is the popular Kite Beach where you can either sign up for kite surfing lessons or watch in awe as the local kite surfers leap high into the air with moves that almost defy gratify. Other options for kite surfing include La Boca and Bozo Beach.
2. Go Surfing or Take Surfing Lessons in Playa Encuentro
The northern shores of the Dominican Republic are home to some of the most popular surfing communities in the country. Playa Encuentro, less than 5 miles from Cabarete downtown, is one of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic for surfing, especially if you’re a beginner. Surfing lessons average to about $50 for a 2-3 hour lesson. Prices depend on the business and lesson package. You are free to rent surfboards without lessons if you wish.
I once stayed at El Encuentro Surf Lodge, which is a few minutes’ walk to Encuentro Beach where I took a morning surf class for beginners. My lesson was with Pau Hana Surf Camp. And I couldn’t believe they actually got me to stand and surf on baby waves not once or twice, but THREE times! Another Dominican-owned surf school in Playa Encuentro is Ocean Academy DR. And lastly, the Dominican Surf School allows you to book your experience online on Airbnb. Just shoot them a message through Airbnb to set it up. [BOOK YOUR LESSON HERE]
3. Waterfall Hike in the Dominican Countryside
For outdoor lovers, this waterfall hiking tour experience is a must-do! It was one of the highlights of our Cabarete trip. We drove deep into the Dominican countryside with our local guide, Jorge, to a lush and verdant jungle. From there, we hiked through the wilderness, past rivers, and richly forested trails.
I felt refreshed and rejuvenated before we even got to the prize gem: a lone waterfall waiting for us, pristinely tucked away, all to ourselves. Around this area is also a uniquely blue clay which we got to soothe our skins with. Bonus! Moreover, you’ll pass all sorts of fruit trees and medicinal plants that Jorge has a deep knowledge of.
By the end of the experience, I had a full-body workout, improved circulation, and felt my soul was nourished inside out. Well worth it and a must-bucket list experience in the Puerto Plata/Cabarete region.
4. Half-Day Trip to Wilson’s in La Boca
This Dominican-owned restaurant sits at the foot of the Yasica River just before it meets the ocean. So the views are uniquely beautiful: part beach and part river with a few local kite surfers enjoying the perfect combo in a relatively remote and low-key area. The cooks take you back into their kitchen where you choose your fish and weigh it. For about $8-10 USD you can enjoy an entire fish cooked over a wood fire with tostones, rice, and salad. It is one of the best and tastiest meals you can have in the Dominican Republic.
Getting to La Boca (about 15 minutes from Cabarete downtown) is a little adventure within itself and requires either an SUV or a proper motorcycle since you’ll be driving over/around streams of water, puddles, rocks, and sand. When you reach the end of the road, you will take a free boat over the river to this special restaurant! In my humble opinion, this is one of the best things to do in Cabarete! And I can’t wait to go back. 🙂 Here is Wilson’s La Boca Facebook page.
5. Rugama for Paddleboarding, River Boat Tours & Seafood
Rugama is an “eco-village” located along the Rio Yasica just before the river pours onto the ocean (pictured above). The space offers a treehouse-style restaurant, some pools, bungalows, and a tiny zoo area. Here, you can rent paddleboards or go on a short guided boat tour around the region. The tours may include transportation and a delicious seafood platter. Book ahead of time to ensure that there is availability for whatever type of tour you’re interested in.
Rugama is located just a stone’s throw away from Wilson’s (listed above) but offers more to do and is easier to get to by road. However, Wilson’s offers a particularly unique taste in the food (especially Wilson’s green sauce) and is a more humble/local experience. I suggest trying both! They are both unique experiences and Dominican-owned.
6. Volunteer with Cabarete Sostenible & Learn Permaculture
Created during the COVID-19 pandemic to confront food insecurity, Cabarete Sostenible provides food aid to vulnerable homes throughout town and opened the first and only community garden and community farm on the north coast. At the gardening spaces, volunteers can learn permaculture, urban gardening, and organic agriculture techniques, all while giving back to those in need in an open and safe location. Gardening is hands-on so remember to wear comfortable clothing, closed-toed shoes, and headwear!
Cabarete Sostenible frequently hosts art and cultural events and plant-based gastronomic experiences with a focus on sustainable development for and by the people. Sign up to volunteer via their website.
7. Day Trip to 27 Waterfalls
Leaving from Puerto Plata, this tour to the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua takes you through a natural park full of limestone slides and river pools. You can go on your own or join a guided tour like this one or this one. The hiking level is easy to intermediate, depending on how far you want to go. But it’s worth it once you get to dip into those crystalline currents.
8. Go on a Horseback Riding Tour
If you’re visiting Cabarete, you can take a tour by horseback or even sign up for some lessons. There are a few cool places to try this out, the first is at the luxurious Sea Horse Ranch‘s equestrian center. Here you can take professional lessons and/or go on a tour through the beach and the woods. The property is stunning and offers gorgeous villas for rent. This could be the perfect package for a group or family trip.
Another cool, more affordable and local option is at Rancho Luisa & Tommy. Here you can do horseback riding tours through the mountains and rivers with a local family. Full day or afternoon rides are offered. No website. Call: 809-986-1984.
10. El Choco National Park & Cabarete Caves
Just a 15 walk from the center of town, you can visit El Choco National Park. Of all the cool things there are to do in this park, the most popular/easy is visiting one of the many privately managed caves with opportunities for swimming. There’s also a lagoon, trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and bird/ lizard watching.
There’s also an option for guided tours of local plants, trees, and fruits (including cacao). When you reach this park entrance, you will be greeted by guides whom you can hire to take you around. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes for the walk to/down the caves.
Prices vary depending on which caves/entrances you choose.
11. Stand Up Paddle Boarding
If surfing or kitesurfing feel way too extreme for you, then maybe consider something a bit calmer: paddleboarding. You can go paddleboarding in lagoons or calmer rivers (such as Rio Yasica). The different businesses in the area can rent you a board and possibly offer a lesson + ride!
12. Tubing at La Boca de Yasica
Tubing is a very fun way to relax and cool down as you float down the Rio Yasica between the green rolling hills. Dominican local, Frank organizes two-hour tubing tours with different stops along the river. The cost is $55 for adults and $40 for children under 13. This includes transport to and from downtown Cabarete, the tubes, a floating fridge of water, juice, beers, and rum, and a typical Dominican lunch at the end with fresh coconuts! Call him via Whatsapp at 829-370-7715 to arrange a tour.
13. Get Pampered with a Massage or a Trip to the Spa
There are several places in town where you can get a massage, check into a spa, get a pedicure or manicure, and pamper yourself. Just take a stroll through the town or check out the local businesses including hotel spa services. Prices range from $20 USD to over $150 USD.
I personally LOVED the massage by the Esthefany Sisters (pictured above). They come to your place with their tables to give you a professional massage for $25/hour. They are based out of Sosua, so be sure to pay them a good tip if they’re schlepping all their equipment to you in Cabarete.
PLEASE NOTE: Do not solicit Dominican women! It’s disgusting and beyond inappropriate. We’ve heard horror stories from local masseuse women who have experienced issues of harassment from foreign men.
14. Day Trip to Cayo Arena
Cayo Arena is one of our favorite beaches in Puerto Plata! To visit this special island, you can book this tour leaving from Puerto Plata. Or go on your own. First, drive on over to beautiful Playa Punta Rucia to take the boats. Afterward, head to nearby Playa Ensenada for lunch! Make sure your boat driver provides snorkeling equipment. Cayo Arena AKA Paradise Island is an absolutely gorgeous experience for beach, swimming, and sunshine. [BOOK A TOUR HERE].
15. Explore the Cabarete Nightlife
The nightlife in Cabarete is relatively more chill, but you can still find bars and places to go out at night. Below, are just a few places where you can go out at night:
- La Chabola — For live music
- Mojito Bar — drinks on the beach in the downtown area
- Voy Voy — live music on Sunday’s
- Lax Ojo Cabarete — for dancing
- Ula — very cute space for a cocktail and DJ music. They also have some food.
16. Half-Day Trip to Playa Caleton & Playa Grande
Playa Caleton: If you’re looking for a calmer beach to visit on the northern coast check out Playa Caleton just an hour east of Cabarete town. Playa Caleton boasts calm emerald-green waters and an interesting decor of sculpture heads at the very end of the beach. Here, you can also sit down and order seafood with an array of side dishes. This is well worth the trip for the food + beach!
Playa Grande: Just 10 minutes driving from Playa Caleton is Playa Grande. Here you can grab delicious food, shop for artisan goods, and swim on a larger beach. As of December 2021, I think Playa Grande is the best spot for food. Go to Luis’ stand and order the lobster at $12/pound!
17. Explore the Local Gastronomy
Cabarete while smaller than other Dominican cities and towns offers an array of unique restaurants and delicious cuisines to try. Most of these are all within walking distance of each other so you can create your own foodie tasting tour! Here are some of our favorite places to eat in Cabarete:
- ★ Wilson’s La Boca: Mentioned above
- Ruguma’s: Mentioned above
- ★ Hotel Alegria: Try EVERY single soup on their menu! This place is a hidden gem. Spanish-Dominican fusion since that’s what the owners are. Also, the prices are very affordable like in Spain. Win, win!
- ★ Woke Foods: Plant-based restaurant that highlights organic foods and local Afro-Carribean flavor. They also seek to empower BIPOC communities in food justice and sovereignty.
- La Cabana: Breakfast and brunch restaurant
- ★ Vagamundo: Really cute and spacious interior. Try the waffles and smoothie bowls!
- El Cocotazo Cafe: An outdoor relaxing restaurant with stunning views of the ocean. Food varies from burgers to fish tacos to mangu.
- ★ Gorditos: Low key, tex mex restaurant located in the center of town. Try the California salad.
- ★ Fresh Fresh: Popular Dominican chain around the island. Known for their cute interiors and healthier food options. You can try their wraps, smoothie bowls, salads and much more!
- Local vendors on the beach in Playa Caleton and Playa Grande: Nothing beats a whole fried fish with tostones on the beach!
- Beach Club at Sea Horse Ranch: Delicious meals with lots of flavor and good views. The prices are in US dollars.
- Drifters: The food here feels fresh and not heavy. Which is great balance from the fried platanos you’ll probably be enjoying throughout your trip. Order a side of salt, lemon, and pesto sauce if you want more flavor. I loved the healthy and light but filling options here!
- Casita de Papi: This restaurant is on the beach and their most popular dish is the coconut curry langoustine. When I first came here four years ago, the food was so tasty and the service was excellent. But recently… I did not have the same experience here. We waited 90 minutes to get dishes that had no flavor. Go at your own discretion.
18. Take Spanish Lessons
If you’re staying in town a bit longer, for a few weeks or even a couple of months in Cabarete consider Spanish lessons! You can arrange a weekly schedule with a local Dominican to learn one of the most useful languages in the world today. Check out unavainabienspanish.com where you can also combine Spanish lessons with a guided cultural activity package including cooking lessons, dominos, walking tours, and more.
19. Hang out at the Local Beaches
The most popular thing to do in Cabarete? Go to the beach that’s just in town. You can walk along the coastline and hit the different local beaches: Cabarete, Kite Beach, Playa Encuentro, etc. They are super easy and accessible to reach on foot. Once you’re on the beach you can either go for a long walk, relax, get a tan, go for a swim, snorkel, grab a drink, and much more. If it’s too windy remember to take caution and also to avoid crashing into a kitesurfer.
20. Enroll in a Fitness Group Class or Private Lesson
It’s very likely that after a few days in Cabarete, you’ll feel inspired to embrace more fitness into your lifestyle. And that’s totally normal here! You can check out the many group fitness lessons all around town at the various gyms in Cabarete. This includes private training, group training, yoga, pilates, and so much more.
I did the group lessons at eXtreme Cabarete which also offers various other fitness classes including trapeze lessons! (Pictured above)
21. Get an Herbal & Holistic Consultation
Since Cabarete is known for its wellness culture, it’s no surprise that you can also find herbal spaces for those seeking more natural supplements/remedies. Pictured above is Herbalista with whom you can have a 1:1 consultation. Or just stop by for whatever you may need. I was happy to find some vegan probiotics here!
For an herbal consultation with a local Cabarete Dominican healer, you can set up a 1:1 meeting by phone here: [his number being published here is currently pending his permission]. Please note that he does not speak English.
22. Go Shopping in Cabarete
There are tons of boutique shops in downtown Cabarete offering cute clothes, artisan crafts, jewelry, souvenirs, and more. I loved shopping for new bathing suits and cute beach accessories. You can also stop by the various stands for some fresh coconuts and/or fruits.
Am I missing something you love to do in Cabarete? List it below in the comments for others to see!
Interested in reading more of our Dominican Republic blog posts & stories?
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