ARE YOU READY FOR A VACATION IN CABARETE?
Below are loads of details that you'll want to know in order to help make for a smooth vacation experience. main topics include:
It's always nice to pack light, but there are a few things we don't want you to forget. To avoid the possibility of lost luggage, we recommend that you carry-on your luggage whenever possible, particularly important items. Here is our list of things to bring:
- Current Passport REQUIRED for all guests from the US and Canada (guests from other countries should check with their airline or consulate).
- A printout of your email invoice confirming full payment and this Tips & Facts webpage.
- Harness, lycra, vest or shorty wetsuit, booties, gloves.
- Sunglasses and chums, a visor or hat.
- High SPF (25+) waterproof sunscreen lotion (oil makes board slippery).
- PFD and/or helmet (if desired).
- Light jacket/windbreaker.
- $20 cash per person for Tourist Card: this be purchased upon arrival at the airport. Current prices are $20 when arriving and $10 when departing. Keep the copy with your passport as it must be presented to officials upon departure.
- Extra spending money (see "Currency/credit cards" below).
- Paperback books for flights and evenings (Our staff appreciates current newspapers + /men's (sports & news) and women's (gossip and entertainment) magazines)
- Ball-point pen, helpful for any airport forms, customs declarations, etc.).
- Ear Plugs, a good idea if you are a light sleeper and if you're practicing those forward loops!
- Mosquito repellent, to be applied to your arms and legs especially when going out at night. Try to always have some with you just in case.
What We Have:
Limited selection of rental harnesses and floating vests. Available for sale are lycras, harnesses, gloves, booties, and lots of clothing (both with and without the Vela logo) at our surf shop. Vela Cabarete also has a variety of water toys for your non-sailing friends and family members, or to try out for yourself in the morning or on a light-wind day. For each pre-booked rental you and one guest are invited to use our boogie boards, kayaks, surf boards, and stand-up paddle boards FOR FREE during open hours.
The Dominican Republic occupies two-thirds of the large Caribbean island of Hispaniola, located about 1500 miles due south of Cape Cod, between the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Make sure to fly into Puerto Plata (POP) or Santiago (STI) airport. (DO NOT fly into Santo Domingo (SDQ) or Punta Cana (PUJ) as each are on the other side of the country!)
The Dominican Republic is a lush tropical destination. The rain that produces the lush vegetation is more frequent in the winter months. So expect it to be a little wetter and somewhat cooler in the winter. Generally it will be in the mid-80's during the day and a bit cooler at night. The water temp is between 70-78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most local people speak Spanish as well as some English tourist lingo. The hotels all have some staff that are fluent in English. The Vela Center staff speaks English, Spanish, German, French and Dutch.
Currency / Credit Cards:
It is not easy to convert US currency to Dominican pesos before you leave home. The best place to convert your dollars is at a "Casa de Cambio" in Cabarete (a designated money exchange place). The Vela Cabarete windsurf center does take credit cards (Amex, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover) for any additional services or goods you may want to purchase on-site. Major credit cards are accepted only by some establishments in the tourist areas, including our hotels and condos. Note that by law, businesses charge a 16% sales tax on every credit card payment. We therefore encourage you to pay in cash or traveler’s checks whenever possible in order to save money. There are banks and cash machines in Cabarete. However, it is recommended to bring extra cash or traveler's checks worth at least $40 per person per day of stay and a few personal checks (if you plan on purchasing any gear bring extra traveler's checks). You may go home with most of it, but if you want it, you'll have it. We suggest you arrive with about $70 in small bills including three $10 bills per person to purchase your tourist cards upon arrival and pay airport departure tax when leaving the country.
110 volt, same outlets as U.S.
Email / Phone Service:
There are still some phone centers and internet cafés in Cabarete where you may pay in pesos for your call or call collect. Most bars now have wireless internet that can be used free of charge, provided that one consumes more than just the free internet. Most US cell phones work in the Dominican Republic. If not, the local Orange shop sells cell phones and SIM cards for 20 to 30 USD.
Water & Health:
We recommend that you only drink bottled water in the Dominican Republic. Even though the hotels typically wash foods in purified water, be as cautious as you would be in any third world country. To allow yourself to adjust to the different food and water and to avoid getting sick, don't further tax your system by exhausting yourself the first day or by drinking too much alcohol! Make sure that you drink plenty of water every day. If concerned, consult your physician before leaving home.
There are a number of interesting restaurants along the beach in Cabarete. Be adventurous with common sense; ask our staff for recommendations and locations. Here's a list of restaurants we've personally tried and found to be very good...
Vela's very own bar. Tacos, wraps, quesadillas, sandwiches, panini, burgers and salads as well as Dominican food. Famous for our mojitos and caipirinhas (can't ever drink just one!), ladies' night and yes indeed, we are the Cabarete Karaoke bar. Come see, come do! In high season don't miss our buffets and our world famous all you can eat Barbecue. Wanna celebrate your birthday? Come talk to us!
La Casa del Pescador: A favorite for seafood and local dishes. One of Cabarete's oldest establishments.
La Casita: The best place to eat fresh shrimp with garlic sauce (your partner better share!) It all comes in one big pan and smells and looks wonderful!
Ali's: Churrasco, ribs, schnitzel, filet, grill plates etc. Large portions for the hungry sailor.
Pomodoro: pizza, pasta, lasagna and other Italian specialties. The best known Italian restaurant in Cabarete. Don't miss out on the live jazz on Thursday.
Onno's: burgers, chicken wings, meat, tapas etc. After dinner – party until the wee hours of the night. Lax and Casanova: Trendy restaurants/ bars where people meet for dinner. From pizza to pasta, calamares and nachos you basically get everything you like.
Otra Cosa: Staff's favorite French Restaurant. Most romantic and finest restaurant in Cabarete.
Gratuities given to the local hotel staff are appreciated and represent a significant portion of their livelihood. At restaurants a 10% service charge that is given to the staff and a 12% tax (16% when paying by credit card) are added to your bill. An additional 10%+ tip is appreciated for good service.
Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff.
You should be flying into the Puerto Plata (POP) airport When you arrive you will go through immigration and pick up any checked luggage in baggage claim. Once outside the airport you will find many young Dominican men eager to help you with your baggage. They expect a tip: $2 or equivalent in pesos is a good tip. If you don't want to feel pressured to tip, you should insist that they not pick up your bags. Do not pay any money at customs. All accommodations are about a 20 minute drive from the Puerto Plata (POP) airport.
We suggest that you use the our transfer service, likely already including in your package. If you have pre-booked transfers with Vela, please make sure that we have your flight information (airline name, flight numbers, and arrival time) so that we can meet you at the airport. Once we have received your flight details, we will schedule your transfers accordingly. The driver will be awaiting your arrival. Simply look for a driver with a VELA sign with your LAST NAME on it when you walk through the doors of the main airport exit.
If you have NOT pre-booked transfers, the local taxi drivers at the airport can assist you as well. Substitute the correct hotel name in the following Spanish phrase to provide directions to the taxi driver: "Favor de llevarme al hotel _______ en Cabarete."(This translates to "Please take me to the _________ hotel in Cabarete.") Read it to the taxi driver or show it to him on a piece of paper. He probably speaks some English anyway.
Transportation During Your Vacation:
If you're staying at El Magnifico, La Punta Cabarete, Velero Beach Resort Palm Beach Condos, or Ocean Dream the Vela center is just a short walk away. Windsurfing guests at the Agualina are about 30 minutes walk from Vela, or (recommended) a 5-10 minute motorcycle, "moto-concho" taxi ride, which is the easiest way to get around the nearby area. If you'd like to explore the island further, the hotel staff can assist you in renting cars and motor scooters or setting up guided tours of the local area. Americans who have lived and worked for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic recommend that you stay along the coastline and not drive into the interior where decent roads, communication facilities and medical rescue services are virtually non-existent.
The normal check-in time is at 3:00PM for all properties, although we can request early check-in if available. Vouchers are not required for check-in. Simply arrive at the front desk and give the agent the last name of the person who made the reservation. If there are any questions, please show them the email invoice that you should print and take with you. NOTE: If you are arriving after 9:00 PM, you must call us with your arrival information immediately and no later than one week prior to arrival at 800-223-5443 (unless you have already given us this information). The hotel's front desk may be closed after 9:00 pm unless Vela is able to notify them of your late arrival.
Check out time is 12 noon for all properties. Make certain to go over your final bill carefully. Personal charges such as bar tabs, laundry, telephone calls, and such are your responsibility. DO NOT let the hotel charge you any tax or service fees on accommodations prepaid by Vela. We always prepay tax and service charges for you. Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff.
If you have an early flight, make arrangements for a taxi to the airport the day before your departure and leave plenty of time to get to the airport. If you are leaving on a late flight, sometimes there is a courtesy room available for storing luggage and taking a shower.
Getting To Vela Cabarete:
The Vela Kitesurf Cabarete Center (also known as Dare2Fly Cabarete) is located at the Agualina Kite Resort, on the beachfront at Kitebeach, which is just outside the West point of Cabarete Bay. If staying on-site at the Agualina, simply walk out your door and past the pool and you are there! From all other hotels inside Cabarete Bay you can either take the long walk (about 30 minutes) west along the beach or take a quick "moto-concho" taxi directly to the Agualina. Our facilities includes equipment for rent with over 60 school kites, 30 boards, helmets, harnesses, and impact vests in all sizes, private lockers for guests’ kite equipment storage (free for guests at the Agualina Kite Resort), a huge lawn area to set up and pack away kites, air compressor to inflate kites, kite washing area, rescue boat, fresh water showers and toilets, free WiFi, bar/restaurant with a terrace providing a spectacular view of Kitebeach serving breakfast, lunch, snacks, cocktails, happy hour and more, plus a surf shop where you can find super deals on kites, boards, kite accessories and various clothing brands.
Checking In To Get Started:
Our staff knows you will be arriving and will wait for you at the beachfront Cabarete center. Introduce yourself to any staff member and they will set you up with an orientation to the sailing program. Other activities available include paddleboarding: snorkeling, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, horseback riding, mountain biking, canyoning, kayaking and other activities in town. Ask our local staff for more information when you check in.
Vela Cabarete is stocked with the latest kites and boards from Cabrinha. Our friendly staff is always on hand to help you select a kite, give quick tips, and make your vacation thoroughly enjoyable. Please help us maintain the high quality of our fleet by handling with care.
Getting On The Water:
You will be given an orientation session before checking out your equipment. All guests must use the equipment sign-out / sign-in sheet located at the equipment area to check out equipment. If you want to change your kite or board during the day, simply return to the center and our staff will help you get back on the water fast. All this will be covered in your "Center Orientation" on your first day with us.
Sailing Conditions / Safety:
Kite Beach is situated just outside of Cabarete Bay with a protective reef outside. It is an exciting place to sail with sideshore winds averaging 15-25 knots during the afternoon hours. Check with our staff upon arrival for a full rundown of the various kiting zones and what to watch out for when you are out there. You will also be briefed on the local sailing conditions and safety measures when you arrive at the center. We have a boat for emergency rescues only.
Make sure to ask our staff any questions you may have regarding adjustments to your gear. They will be pleased to show demonstrate anything for you, as you will ultimately need to make these adjustments yourself at the beach. You will be responsible for any incorrect handling of the gear that results in damages to the gear, so make sure that you understand the steps for any changes you plan to make.
Damage to equipment:
You will be asked to leave a credit card as deposit when you take out equipment. Once you sign out your rentals, it is your responsibility to return it in the same condition! To minimize the possibility of damage, please choose equipment that suits your ability level and conditions, and handle equipment carefully when launching and coming in to shore. Items that need replacing such as fins, lines, bladders, or straps will be charged at cost plus 10% for parts and labor. For items that can be repaired, standard charges will apply. This must be paid directly to the center in full upon return of the damaged equipment. An optional / additional $40 insurance plan is available through the center directly ($600 total coverage with no deductible) and many guests chose both plans to have maximum coverage.
Vela Wind Warranty:
In the event that there are 4 or more days of non-sailable wind using any of our equipment, you may request a NO-WIND CLAIM FORM that will allow you credit towards a future trip to any Vela destination. Note that you may receive higher credits if you return to the same center. You must get this form before you leave the center.
On-Site / Walk-Up Equipment Rental:
If you have not paid for equipment use as part of your vacation, the on-site rental rate for a complete rig is currently US $85 per day. This rate is subject to change. Daily rentals will only be available after the staff is satisfied that all pre-paid guests have had their first choice.
Bringing Your Own Gear:
We offer storage at the center as well as plenty of beach assistance with help from our team. Make certain to talk with our staff about the many possibilities to explore the coastline through downwinders and kitesurfaris arranged on-site. For guests staying at the Agualina Kite Resort, storage lockers are available for you to use free of charge. Any guests staying at other hotels in the area will be charged $35 per week and subject to available space.
Although we have a large team of instructors we always recommend booking lessons in advance to ensure your spot on the schedule. Contact us if you need to reserve some time. If you have already booked lessons please make sure to check-in the day before or no later than 10:45 the morning of the lesson. Lesson start-times are dependent on the wind and may be delayed while waiting for optimal conditions.
BEGINNER PACKAGE (9 HOURS)
Basics of controlling the kite - 3 Hours Per Session
This is the basics of kite control and handling. You will be flying a latest Cabrinha model and you will go through the equipment terminology and setup, the wind effects and wind window theory. You will learn how to fly your kite hooked into the harness using the power of the kite in a safe environment, how to use your safety system, launch and land and fly the kite with the de-power loop.
Water control : Body drag - 3 Hours Per Session
The next step brings you into the water. You will learn how to change direction with your kite in the water, how to water re-launching a crashed kite from the water and the self rescue. You will also learn some additional body drag techniques such as Upwind body dragging (you will need this skill to retrieve the board after a crash).
Board control : waterstart - 3 Hours Per Session
We set you up on a board and teach you the water start theory: board and body positioning while piloting the kite, diving the kite to enable standing up on the board and controlling the speed and the direction. This final level covers the remaining topics to make you a totally independent. You should be able to rent some equipment and be an independent kiteboarder after completion of this 9 hours program. You will know how to choose a spot, rig your gear, and know everything about the safety to ride back and forth from the beach.
Upon completion of the beginner lesson Rider Package and demonstration of all the new skills your acquired, you will receive and IKO card certification that allows you to rent gear at any IKO certified Kiteboarding School in the world. We also can set you up with some brand new Cabrinha gear from our shop. Plan ahead to include lessons and rentals to ensure the best rates.
ADVANCED LESSONS (HOURLY)
Need help to nail the tricks you are working on, or just to help you polish up your riding in general. We are able to help with things as easy as body dragging upwind, back rolls, all the way up to and including handle passes and backroll kiteloops (F16’s). We also do coaching for surf riding and handling waves for the first time. Lesson rates vary depending on if you need to use school equipment or if you are traveling with your own gear.
From one convenient launch directly in front of the Vela center, you'll find everything from flat water cruising to down-the-line wave sailing, depending both on the season and the time of day. We currently have over 100 windsurf boards from JP and Starboard as well as a full line of NeilPryde sails, all rigged on carbon masts and ready to go. All equipment is kept in top condition and is replaced each year as soon as the new line is available. So come on down and get on the water! For more information about our windsurf services please see this link.
Private lessons are available to cover any topics desired from beach starting to back-looping. The purpose of the private lesson option is to give you more individualized instruction. Below is a list of common private lesson topics. Private lessons cost $45 per hour. Typically scheduled in the afternoon. Dialing in your gear, Pivot Jibe, Hook and foot / how to get on a plane, Carving Jibe; Sailing fast when underpowered, Freestyle, Wave Riding ... ANYTHING we can do we can try to teach!
Free Windsurf Clinics:
These clinics are included in your vacation and are given 6 days per week, Monday through Friday, at 12:30 pm. The topics covered vary according to guest needs and requests can range from rigging to jibing to looping. At least one day per week instructors will also set up a video camera in a designated area and tape students sailing, followed by a critique that afternoon. Footage will be shown at the Saturday night BBQ.
READY TO GO? ARE YOU SURE? PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU DEPART. HAVE A GREAT TRIP AND DON'T FORGET TO WRITE!