I’m noticing a SAIS theme with our fist visitors here so far. Though it should come as no surprise that students of an International Relations program would travel. Adding to our collection are Emre and Adea, two more classmates from our time in Italy and Washington, DC. And an extended Memorial Day weekend in the small town of Cabarete is exactly what all of us needed.
Cabarete is a slightly sleepy beach town on the norther coast of the island. It is developed enough to support a handful of modern hotels and gated communities comprising small- to medium-sized villas and beach houses. It is also home to some of the planet’s best kite surfing. The extended shelf running north of Hispaniola provides slightly shallower water that, when mixed with strong air currents, provide ideal waves for the sport. On a busy weekend, the landscape is saturated with large kites and punctuated with enthusiasts flying through the air.
One particular complex has a long-standing relationship with the embassy, and we used that to secure a small house for the four of us. No sooner had our guests arrived that we packed up Green Monster (our affectionate name the car) and hit the road. The nearly 4-hour drive takes you north through a small mountain range that exits to a broad tropical savannah bordering the Atlantic Ocean. For long stretches, the east-west coastal road winds across the island’s edge, less than 100 feet from the beach. It’s exactly what you imagine a remote corner of a tropical island looks like.
Though small, Cabarete is densely packed and always bustling. Traffic on the main thoroughfare crawls as drivers navigate pedestrians, parallel parkers, and other cars entering and existing from small shops and plazas. Cabarete is a much smaller version of Puerto Plata, a bigger town further west with a longer beach line and that is much more developed, though not quite the beach resort haven of Punta Cana. Like any Dominican town, Cabarete is loud. Sometimes that noise is the beach. Other times is an impressive speaker stack. Caribbean life is not often quiet.
Cabarete’s food scene is also a reason to visit. Bars and restaurants are clustered at one point on the extensive beach and you can easily roam among them. For us, getting there included a 20 minute walk down the beach, not a bad way to work up an appetite. Unsurprising, sea food is readily available and astonishingly good. One restaurant, La Casita de Papi, has a lobster dish that came highly recommended. It is served with an alfredo sauce that, eaten alone, could almost be a meal. A smart strategy is to save the bread for mopping up the sauce toward the end of the meal. Served with a Presidente beer that is just above freezing, and with waves crashing mere feet from you, it’s heavenly.
And we can’t wait to show you when you come visit.