My next port of call was Cabarete, a small town approximately an hour's drive west of Puerto Plata and close to the airport. The town's length is 800 metres - which is pretty tiny, especially when you realize that most of the restaurants and stores were primarily along the road and the beach, which was the same length. There are around 4,000 Cabarete residents.
My driver in Puerto Plata arranged for his wife to drive me to my Airbnb. When we turned off the main Highway, my drivers were puzzled by where we were going. We made two or three turns and ended up in a residential area where the road dead-ended. Amid this street was a three-storey new apartment building.
The host, Ubaldo, showed me to my apartment on the first floor. After looking at the place I had selected, I asked if he had a room that had slightly more light. He showed me a brand new apartment on the 2nd floor. Ubaldo is working hard to get his Airbnb in tip-top shape. Eventually, the roof will have an outdoor gym and a good washer/dryer room.
After arriving somewhere new, there is always housekeeping- getting money, laundry, and grocery shopping. I headed out for the bank and the gringo grocery store, Janet's, at the other end of town.
Across from the apartment building, the neighbours allow everyone to cut through their property. This way, you can skip a few blocks to get to the Highway. Walking through this yard felt bizarre as there were three residences on the property, and people were always outside when I wandered through.
However, I was encouraged to use my Spanish, as one of the older gentlemen asked me daily how I was. It became a highlight of my day as a big smile was attached to the question and my answer in Spanish! It's one of the few things I can say in Spanish.
After heading to the Highway, I headed east to the Scotiabank. I decided to go to the teller to get money out on my debit card. So I took a number and waited to approach the teller. However, they told me I needed to take money out of my credit card at the ATM.
After getting money, I continued east to Janet's. If you have been in an expatriate grocery anywhere in the world, you have seen Janet's. I tried to take a video, but security stopped me.
John and I usually did all of these things and were able to work out how to handle situations together. The bank was a challenge, and Janet's also was.
I was under the impression that I could have groceries delivered. However, that only happens if you spend over $100 USD. The apartment had no water, so I had some cumbersome heavy items. I realized that I was going to have to get a taxi home. On exiting the store, I was laden with bags of groceries. Across the street was where the motoconchos, the motorcycle taxis, hung out.
One dashed over, grabbed bags from me, and draped them over his handlebars. At the same time, as I was saying no, a car taxi driver came running toward me - also saying no! I was very grateful for his arrival. By this time, I was feeling stressed.
The taxi driver assumed I was staying in a particular ex-pat area and headed that way. As described above, I was staying outside the usual ex-pat area. I tried to show him where the apartment was, but he was confused, as was I. We eventually got there! It was a stressful day for me. Would it have been so stressful if there were two of us?
Why did I decide to go to Cabarete? That's an excellent question! I had considered touring the Dominican Republic. Safety was a concern, and I was discouraged from trying to do that. The only place I had heard anything about was Cabarete, which was on YouTube, with a Canadian couple's travel channel. They love Cabarete. So....... it's a crazy reason to go somewhere!
Cabarete is a beach town. It hosts many water sports competitions as they have over 280 days of wind. The top sports are windsurfing, kite surfing, standup paddle boarding and wing foiling. I can vouch for the wind! I spent many days at the beach, all of which were windy. The advantage is that it doesn't get too hot, and the wind keeps you cool. However, the sound of the wind never stops. NEVER. And the waves pound the shore.
I spent twenty-six days in Cabarete. There were several heavy rainfalls while I was there, mainly through the night. Otherwise, it was lovely, warm beach weather. The YouTube couple I mentioned, the Delightful Travellers - Travor and Anna, and I crossed paths several times. I spoke with them the first day I saw them at the beach, but I respected their privacy after that.
There are only a few activities in the area outside of watersports, which I needed to do. There are caves in a National Park within walking distance of town. However, I never got around to doing that. I spent lots of lazy time.
Of course, I also spent time eating and drinking! There were restaurants on the main road and many more along the beachside. I tried several of them. I had to, as my go-to home-cooked meal was a quesadilla, and I managed to burn those on occasion.
On the beachside were:
Mojitos - named for the drink they were famous for. Mojitos was at the far east end of the beach. The majority of the beachside restaurants had tables directly in the sand. On one of my first nights, I visited Mojitios and had the special for a Wednesday called a Preston. The meal was a chicken burger with cheese and bacon and a mojito for 480RD ($11.03 CAD - $8.19 USD). The sandwich was okay, and the drink was delicious. The restaurant got bustling, and as I was one person taking up a table for four, I had four Quebecois tourists ask to pull up chairs to my table. We had a lovely discussion through another drink, and then I left them to it.
Watch what your menu states in Cabarete. Some restaurants' prices reflect what you will pay, but look carefully at the small print as some add an 18% tax on top as well as a gratuity of 10%. There was a restaurant that I wanted to try, but after looking at the menu, I realized that I would be paying an additional 28% over and above what was already expensive. I didn't find that Cabarete was all that inexpensive.
I tried going out during Happy Hour to get food and a drink, usually between 4 - 6 pm.
OJO Club - is more like a club and has music. I had calamari here and ran into the same additional 28%. I got smarter after that.
Froot Loop - was further to the west on the beach. I enjoyed their happy Hour 2-3 times. Their wings were okay, and the price was right. Lovely staff.
Mar y Brassa - I remember going here and that there was a tax on the bill, but I need a picture of the food and a memory of it, which I don't have.
Pomodoro Pizza was a good pizza and gave me leftovers.
COPPA - I ate inside this restaurant, although it also fronts the beach. I had wandered in on an Ex-Pat night, and they had spaghetti bolognese as a special. Guests told me it was good, and it was. It was a huge meal that I wanted to take home with me! But sometimes you need to speak the language to be understood, so that's on me. It cost me 150rd ($3.45 CAD, $2.56 USD) for a heaping bowl of spaghetti and a glass of red wine.
There were more than 20 restaurants along that section of beach, and most had some form of special or Happy Hour.
On the roadside were more restaurants!
My favourite was a toss-up between three.
Fresh, Fresh - this was more of a breakfast/cafe place. I loved their buckwheat pancakes and spiced coffee and indulged more than once. And their brownies - well, what can I say? Anything chocolate!
Pho King Noodle House and Cafe has the lunch special, chicken bánh mi - a Vietnamese sandwich in a baguette. Although I wanted to try other menu items, I had the Bahn mi again because it was the most flavourful meal I had in Cabarete.
Island Smash Burger was a delicious hamburger just off the main Highway. It was hard to find, as the owner said someone had torn down his sign the night before, and he hadn't had a chance to put it back up.
Others on the Highway were Friends, always busy. Belgium Bakery, where I would come onto the road - I found their coffee very expensive. Cabarete Coffee Company - a walk west on the Highway, and the food was good. La Kazba - about mid-town - is also good.
There you have it food-wise.
Watching the water sports was amazing, and the number of kites in the air was astounding - especially on the weekend. How they didn't get wildly tangled up, I will never know.
So I hope that helps you decide if Cabarete is a place you want to check out. It's an option for somewhere different than Puerto Plata and Punta Cana's all-inclusive resorts.
Until next time.......
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