Hispaniola : Dominican Republic : Western Cibao : Cabarete
Cabarete is a city in the Dominican Republic. It is a city dominated by tourism, particularly for kitesurfing and windsurfing. On a good year, it is considered one of the best places to practice these sports in the Caribbean. As the tourism industry has been developing, prices have increased rapidly in the 2010s. Prices should be current as of summer 2016 unless otherwise noted.
There is a US $10 tourist fee upon arrival.
The closest airport to Cabarete is Puerto Plata Airport (IATA: POP). Taxis to Cabarete cost US $35. Taxi rates are union negotiated and fixed, but if you arrive at the airport without pre-booking your trip, the taxi drivers will request more. A common scam is that taxi drivers will request $35 per person. All taxi prices are per trip, not per person. For pre-bookings, hotels can help or Airport Transfers Services  has the standard posted rates. Departure is fast and easy, as Puerto Plata airport is very small, but make sure you are there 2 hours before your flight.
Puerto Plata is an expensive airport to fly to. Alternatively, fly to Santiago airport (IATA: STI). The taxi ride to Cabarete is about 1.5 hours, and the cost should be US $100 (see info on pre-booking above). If coming at night, the mountain road to Cabarete is dark, steep, narrow, and poorly maintained, so if you're concerned, ask for a trip avoiding the mountain road (2 hours, US $160). A cheaper transport option is the Caribe Tours bus station in the Jardines neighborhood in Santiago (see here  for how to get to Santiago city from the airport). Take a bus (RD$160) to Sosua (leaves 20 past every hour from early morning till evening, takes 2 hours). From Sosua, if you have minimal luggage, flag any gua gua heading in the direction of Cabarete (frequent during the day, about 20-25 mins). A taxi from Sosua to Cabarete should cost about US $5-$10.
A taxi cab from Santo Domingo airport (IATA: SDQ) takes about 3.5 hours and costs about $200, but flights into Santo Domingo can be substantially cheaper. Again it's best to book your taxi in advance. Many people who fly into Santo Domingo will rent a car, but be careful. Traffic rules are not enforced, streets are poorly maintained, and the foreigner will always be blamed for any accidents. Be sure to buy full insurance for your car including "casa de conductor", as odds are your credit card will not help you here. If you are in an accident, you can be jailed for days until the authorities sort out the accident, and the extra coverage will ensure that at least you are placed on house arrest in a hotel in case of an accident.
The center of Cabarete consists of a main road of about 800 meters (0.5 mile). Be careful walking. There are no sidewalks and motorbikes ride along the edges of the road. You can walk on the beach. However, be mindful of your route, as the increasing beach construction blocks road to beach access and some of the newer constructions are built right up to the water, making navigation difficult at the edges of town.
Motoconchos (motorcycle taxis) are everywhere and will call to you constantly as you walk. If you don't look and talk like a local, the fee is per person RD$50 around town during the day and RD$100 at night. You have to negotiate in advance. Their safety is questionable. There are no helmets and drunk driving is rampant at night. Be careful of the tail pipes climbing on and off--they are hot and can burn your legs.
Public transportation comes in two forms: Sedans called "Publicos" and mini-vans called "Guaguas". Guaguas stop running at 6PM. You can flag down either from anywhere on the side of the road, pile in together with the locals, and hop out wherever you like. The official price is RD$25 during the day (or maybe RD$50 as far as Puerto Plata), but good luck getting anyone to honor those prices as a tourist. Your best bet is to hand the conductors exact change and hope they don't start arguing with you, but be prepared to pay RD$50 to RD$100 depending on your desire and ability to argue.
Taxis are everywhere. Rates can be exorbitant by local standards, and will almost certainly require negotiation.
This town is renowned for kite surfing and wind surfing, and numerous schools offer lessons and services geared to wind sports. If you're a beginner kitesurfer, budget for 5+ hours of lessons (US $50-$80/hour or packages available for several hundred) followed by gear purchase (on the order of $1500) or rental ($70-$100/day).
Kite Beach is arguably the best area for beginner kite surfing with flatter water and waves. It extends about 2 km north of town along the road, with a number of hotels along the beach. For surfing, the break becomes better about 4 km down the beach at Playa Encuentro.
There are many kitesurfing locals on the beach who in exchange for tips will help set up your gear, give pointers, or assist if you get into trouble. Conversely, if you are a competent kiteboarder, be firm in asserting that you don't need help. If the beach locals (except those who work for the shops) help you in any way, even if you didn't ask, they will expect a tip (usually ~$5-$10 US). If you oblige, they will likely be there to hussle tips and/or use your gear (recklessly, and without repairing any damage they cause) for the rest of your trip.
Scuba diving is usually done from nearby Sosua, a 10 minute drive away.
For the less adventurous one can stand up paddle board at the lagoon or at Bozo beach. A number of hotels also offer Yoga and other fitness activities (such as CrossFit or even circus acrobatics) as well as Spanish lessons.
The common gift is Mamajuana, a bottle of herbs and sticks that you fill with red wine, empty, then fill with rum and honey. Cabarete is known world wide as a testing ground for kite manufacturers, so you can often find slightly used kites at discounted prices. Gear rental runs $70-$100/day. Airline charges for kite gear range from $0 to about $200 round-trip. Depending on the length of your stay, it may make more sense to rent or bring your own gear.
As Cabarete is primarily a tourist town, there are many international food options geared towards tourists.
Local joints are the best budget options, serving rice, beans, chicken, and sometimes other options to a Spanish speaking clientele. They are generally vanishing with the development of the area and will take some searching and asking around. One example is a small blue eating area across the street from Agualina Kite Resort at Kite Beach. Fill up a plate or a takeaway box with as much food as you like from their buffet for RD$150. In addition, there is Janet's Supermarket on the east side of Cabarete where you can buy food staples. An alternative for those staying on the west/kite beach side of Cabarete is the large, modern SuperPola on the east side of Sosua. You can take a gua gua to either of those and carry as many groceries back as you can fit on your lap.
For western style budget food, Gordito's serves Mexican food (comparable to Chipotle in the USA). Burritos and burrito bowls range from RD$200-$400 (summer 2016). Next door Fcuk Wok serves American style Chinese food with cheap small options (~200RD) or up to ~400RD for a large portion. The Belgian Bakery has great pastries (RD ~$100 each) and breads near the center of town.
Almost all of the hotels have a restaurant option and there are many restaurants on the beach. The cheaper places like Ali's Surf Camp or Kite Beach Hotel have simple dishes on the order of RD$300. Expect to pay at least RD$450 for seafood or steak or just as a baseline price at many of the beach restaurants. A 10% tip is expected.
There is a rapidly expanding list of options where you can easily spend US$20 per person or more. One example is La Casita de Papi, which has been around a long time.
Walking along the beach or the main road there is at least one bar every block.
Because much of the beach is developed with condos, the best deals (especially for longer stays) are often found on room sharing sites like Airbnb.
This is touristville, so most ATMs charge a fee up to RD$200 to withdraw, while many also have a cap of RD$4000. ATMs in other Dominican cities often have no fees, so it may be best to withdraw in advance if you're visiting other places in the DR. To minimize withdrawal fees, you can get large withdrawals (at least RD$10000, possibly more) at The Banco Popular ATMs next to the Belgian Bakery (towards the west end of town) or at the SuperPolo market in Sosua.
For the best cash exchange rates, there is one completely (and inexplicably) unadvertised place in the town centre, or Caribe Tours near the west end of Cabarete (both offered 38.9 pesos/USD as of March 14th 2012); most of the other places near the town centre offer either 37.5 or 38 pesos/USD.