Family beach vacations are difficult to put together. Mom, Dad and the kids each have different passions, and it can be hard to find a place that caters to everyone, especially without breaking the bank. There’s one small town on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, however, that actually checks all of your family vacation boxes. Discover one tiny town that’s the ultimate destination for affordable family vacations in the Caribbean: Cabarete.
Cabarete was once known as a surf and party town, but it has since evolved into one of the most affordable, family-friendly vacation spots in the Caribbean.
A Vacation For Everyone in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Cabarete is a micro-chasm of expat life, adventure sports and breathtaking natural surroundings. It’s not only got all the sunshine, white sand and crystal-clear water that attracts vacationers to any Caribbean island, but there’s also a full roster of activities to keep smiles on the faces of both parents and kids alike.
Cabarete town is centered around its main beach, which is famous for its 300-days-a-year kite and windsurfing conditions. Cabarete may have gotten its start as a surf-party town, but it has since evolved into a dynamic holiday spot for the whole family.
Day 1: Spa Treatments, Surf & Sunsets
Start off by unwinding. Moms and Dads alike can bliss out at the luxury Andari Spa, where massages, treatments and even fitness classes aim to pamper and calm even the most stressed-out parent. Enjoy a dip in the oceanfront pool or private jacuzzi in between treatments while you’re kids play on the beach out front.
After you’ve blissed out, take the entire family out for surf lessons at Encuentros Beach, where waves await all levels of surfers. This gorgeous stretch of sand has surf lessons for beginners and children (as long as they can swim), as well as intermediate waves and even some advanced reef breaks, so there’s something for everyone.
Daytime Dining & Activities in Cabarete
Post surf, head over to Vagamundo Coffee & Waffles to refuel. There’s a host of decadent Belgian waffles and smoothie bowls to satisfy everyone’s hunger, and even a fun roster of activities from painting classes to live music sessions. The team at Vagamundo is dedicated to waffles, as their profits give back the community by supporting Niños de la Luz, a nonprofit that helps house and educate street children in the DR and Venezuela. In fact, several staff members at the café grew up in the program.
After lunch, drop the kids off at the Cabarete Circus for a lesson in gymnastics, trampoline, aerials and even on the flying trapeze. Children as young as three are welcome to the 90-minute classes.
Later, get the whole family together for a stand-up paddleboard adventure through the mangroves. The windsports school at Villa Taina offers a two-hour tour that takes you away from the tourist crowds and through pristine natural surroundings.
Once you’re back, grab a power smoothie and a yummy wrap from the healthy-food eatery Fresh Fresh Café. Fresh Fresh has locations in Cabarete, the nearby town of Sosua and even in Santo Domingo, the island’s capital. It’s not surprising that Fresh Fresh is so popular as this family-friendly joint serves food that is as healthy as it is delicious—it’s sure to keep everyone in your clan nourished and in good spirits.
Cabarete Dinner & Sunset
It’s time to head to the beach for a perfect Cabarete sunset. Grab a drink at one of the beach cafes and dig your toes into the sand as you watch the kite-filled sky light up, or if you’ve still got energy left, join the locals for a soccer or volleyball game on the sand.
Then, after a quick shower and change back at your hotel room, head over to Pizza & Spaghetti House, a family favorite with classic Italian offerings and mouth-watering pizza that’s seriously kid-and-parent-approved.
Day 2: Kiteboarding, Horseback Riding & More in Cabarete
The next morning, wake up for a yoga class with Mira Yoga, followed by breakfast at Vitamin D Cafe on Kite Beach to check out the wind conditions before your kiteboarding class. There are a host of excellent kite schools in Cabarete, but we recommend Dare2Fly or Big Willy’s. However, if English isn’t your first language, search around for an instructor who speaks your native tongue.
Horseback Riding in Cabarete
Non-kiters can opt instead for a horseback ride along one of the many magical beach trails. The Sea Horse Ranch Equestrian Centre on the road to Sosua has carved out more than seven miles of riding trails along both beach and inland paths and also offers lessons in indoor and outdoor riding arenas for serious riders and their mini-equestrians.
For a longer horseback adventure, drive inland to Rancho Luisa y Tommy for incredible half and full-day horse excursions through verdant mountains and along scenic rivers. This locally-run ranch has 22 lovely horses trained for all types of riders, and more exciting adventures that will put you in touch with the local cowboy culture—there’s even a full-moon ride if you’re lucky enough to be around for a full moon.
Activities That Give Back in Cabarete
Then, it’s off for an afternoon zip lining adventure at Monkey Jungle. You’ll race through treetops of the beautiful forests of northern Dominican Republic and even get to visit with— you guessed it—monkeys! It’s all for a good cause as well. The revenues from your visit help support the onsite dental clinic that offers free dental treatments to local Dominican and Haitian residents.
Cabarete is full of projects that support the local community, and if you want to teach your kids about the value of giving back, consider stopping by to visit one of them. The Mariposa Center for Girls has been offering support and direct service programs for girls aged 8 to 18 for nearly a decade and is widely considered as one of the best non-profit programs on the island. They offer tours of their center by appointment, which includes a visit to the island’s first Girls Art Museum and a chance to meet both facilitators and girls in the program.
El Choco National Forest & the Teleférico Puerto Plata
On your way back to town, take a detour to Las Cuevas de Cabarete and treat your family to a guided tour through Cabarete Caves in the El Choco National Forest. You’ll see incredible stalactites and stalagmites, then go for a swim in the fresh natural pools inside the caves. You might even catch a glimpse of the resident singing frog.
Then, it’s off to The Teleférico Puerto Plata to catch your final sunset. Located on the south side of Puerto Plata, the teleférico offers breathtaking views of the city, ocean and surrounding area from the top of Mount Isabel de Torres. It’s one of the few cable cars in the Caribbean, and the perfect last stop before you head off to the airport for your flight home.
Getting to Cabarete:
Book flights into Puerto Plata Airport (POP), which is just an hours taxi ride away from Cabarete. Direct flights are available from five US cities including JFK and MIA, six Canadian cities and three European destinations.
Natura Cabana offers 12 bungalows, two private restaurants, a spa and a yoga temple on its own quiet beachfront property just outside of town. The two-or-three bedroom bungalows are perfect for families.