Picture this: you’re floating between waves in the crystal-clear turquoise ocean on a Caribbean island. You glimpse palm trees swaying onshore as kitesurfers glide by, some of them even doing tricks right next to you. Sounds like paradise, right?
Wrong. The reason you’re floating and taking in these views is that you lost your board and are now frantically trying to:
- Keep the kite in the air
- Stay out of other kiteboarder’s ways
- Keep your head above water
- Find the damn kiteboard
- Not freak out or cry
My name is Tara. This is my kiteboarding story.
How I Ended Up Kiteboarding in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
The past few months I’ve been learning how to kiteboard in Florida. It’s definitely the hardest sport I’ve tried, but one head injury, hours of practice and neverending patience from my boyfriend later and I can ride back and forth without falling (usually). I’ve become pretty comfortable at Fort Desoto where I’ve been learning. The water is flat and it looks like the end of the earth with uninhibited views.
Aside from a few lessons at the Skyway Bridge, I’ve never kiteboarded anywhere else. When my boyfriend and I chose Cabarete, Dominican Republic for a short getaway, I was thrilled. It’s one of the many kitesurf capitals in the world with the main spot aptly named Kite Beach. We booked a room at Agualina Kite Resort right on Kite Beach and waited for the wind.
Beginners, Humble Yourself Before the Kite in Cabarete
Saying I was completely unprepared for kiteboarding in Cabarete is an understatement. I figured I’d ride back and forth just like at Fort Desoto, maybe even learn to ride upwind, but the water is choppy with strong currents and the wind is ripping. It is an experienced kiteboarder’s dream. My boyfriend walked my kite upwind and sent me out to the water to ride downwind. After witnessing my one ride down, he, along with the local kitesurf school owner, recommended I get lessons with an instructor.
Kiteboarding Lessons in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
My instructor José was patient and encouraging to a fault. Since I have a little experience kiting, he would simply walk or ride my kite upwind and then meet me where I rode to downwind. Then, as we walked back upwind, he’d give me tips on how to improve based on what he saw.
Sounds pretty straight forward when I put it like that, but the time between him handing me my kite and me handing it back transformed me into a different person. I was having the time of my life and at the same time having little personal crises every time I fell and was body dragging to my board—in hindsight, it’s hilarious.
Kiteboarding or Character Building?
Every time I got out in the water with my board in one hand and bar in the other, I’d water start and immediately be thinking of the million things I had to do to stay up riding. If the kite was just right, waves were crashing over my board because I wasn’t edging hard enough. When the board was above the waves and the kite was in the sky, I’d be flying so fast that I didn’t even have time to enjoy the small success before wiping out. It was stressful and exhausting to say te least.
And the worst part of all: I was kind of comparing myself with my boyfriend the whole time. Logically, I know that he has been kiteboarding longer than me and is just a freak of nature with sports. But on an emotional, in-the-moment level? I was so frustrated. He was having a blast kiting all day long while I was floundering like a little loser. At one point I managed to ride way out far to where he was catching waves and when I wiped out, he kindly rode by to ask something like, “Babe, what are you doing all the way out here?” I wanted to scream. It’s not like I meant to get all the way out there. 😂
What I Learned Kiteboarding in Cabarete
I learned that after swallowing saltwater and wiping out all day, a mojito is twice as delicious. No, really.
After five and a half hours of lessons over two days, I somehow felt like I regressed in my learning. It had nothing to do with my instructor, he was awesome! He taught me so much about board and kite control, and body dragging.
Kiteboarding in Cabarete was a humbling experience. I was trying my absolute best but simply could not master riding with such strong wind and choppy waters. I was really proud of myself for trying to kiteboard again and again, but it took some time after each session for me to feel that way. Ultimately, I learned a lot kiteboarding in Cabarete. First, I lost my board probably 50 times, so I really honed in my body dragging skills going to get it. Next, I learned how I react under immense stress and frustration. I had to be patient, breath and simply try again. Finally, I believe that I didn’t regress. All that time I put in probably did teach me valuable kiteboarding skills, they just won’t be revealed immediately.
Can Beginners Kiteboard in Cabarete?
If you’re a beginner kiteboarder reading this, I hope I didn’t discourage you from kiting in Cabarete with my dramatic story. Cabarete is actually an ideal place to learn how to kiteboard and take lessons. Kite Beach is lined with kitesurf schools that have instructors and rent gear. The water is deep and clear so there’s no worry you’ll hit something if you fall. Plus, it’s actually good that the water is choppy and has waves. If you can learn to kiteboard in Cabarete, you’ll be prepared for different conditions— unlike if you learned on flat water.
Plus, it’s totally beauitful and there’s so much to do in and around Cabarete. Surf at Playa Encuentro, stroll through Puerto Plata, dive or eat gourmet Italian—Cabarete has it all! I can’t wait to go back to Cabarete and try again. The water is so beautiful and seeing 50+ kites in the sky is invigorating.
Onward & Upward With Kiting
I hope you got a little humor out of my experience kiteboarding in Cabarete. I’m practicing kiting as much as I can and the next time I visit Cabarete will be a very different story. 🙂
Have you kiteboarded in Cabarete? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!