If you’re planning a trip to the Dominican Republic and in addition to a good dose of kiting, you’re hoping for a good bit of culture — be sure to make note of the following 9 Travel Tips compiled by kiteboarder and traveller, Lindsay McClure.
1. Say “yes” to a beach vendor. I’m definitely not recommending saying yes to every beach vendor. The local ladies who are offering to braid your hair, however, are offering a unique and refined service that you aren’t going to want to pass up.
2. Get out of town in a Guagua. In the Dominican Republic, they pay no attention to the fact that these vans were designed to seat eight. The Guagua’s are inexpensive buses that run along the Northern coast. The awesome thing about the Guagua transport system is the way they think of bus seating in a three dimensional manner. Not only do they seat the bus front to back – they also pack the house in layers from the floor to the roof.
3. Cast your vote in the La Boca restaurant war. Two feuding restaurants occupy one small stretch of beach in Cabarete. They have the same sales pitch, the same menu, and the same view. Where are you going to eat? Who is going to cook your parrot fish? Whose side are you on? Whose heart are you going to break?
4. Buy a machete. The going rate for a fresh coconut on the beach of Cabarete is $100 Dominican Pesos. The price tag on a brand spanking new machete is $250. I’m no math whiz, but I think the question is whether you would rather have 2.5 coconuts or one machete and unlimited coconuts. At 40 pesos to 1 dollar, to me the choice seems fairly obvious. (And, as a side note, I had no problem bringing a machete home in my checked bag).
5. Brace yourself for Semana Santa. Apparently Easter is synonymous with huge party in Cabarete. Leave your dancing shoes at home, roam the beach barefoot, and don’t expect to sleep until the sun comes up.
6. Drink mojitos. Find a solid happy hour and enjoy a Brugal Mojito. Or two.
7. Visit the 27 Falls of Damajagua. As a general rule, if you’re required to wear a helmet, you are probably going to have a good time. The 27 Falls of Damajagua is a short hike followed by a fun descent: jumping off cliffs, sliding down rocks, puddle jumping, and floating down a little creek winding through the Dominican jungle. Helmet, life jacket, and tour guide is included with the park entry fee.
8. Squeeze onto a moto. See how many people you can fit! Just be sure to avoid a Dominican tattoo (otherwise known as a nasty burn you’ll get from a smoking hot muffler if you make the mistake of debarking on a moto’s right side).
9. Surf the Reef. Whether you enjoy traditional surfing, paddle surfing, or kite surfing, the reef that protects Cabarete bay is your playground. Don’t be intimidated by the distance you have to cover to get there.
Lindsay McClure is a freelance writer, kiteboarding instructor, and Cabrinha regional team rider who rarely spends more than four months in any one place. This past winter, she spent three months in Cabarete teaching kiteboarding lessons for Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding, and this summer she’ll be working with Cascade Kiteboarding in beautiful Hood River, Oregon. Stay up to date on Lindsay’s adventures by following her blog at www.lindsaymcclure.com. All photos courtesy of Lindsay McClure.