After a quick visit to Toronto for Christmas, we decided that a week in the sun was worthwhile. After investigating a number of Caribbean islands, Kite Beach near Cabarete in the Dominican Repbulic won out.
Kite Beach is named for exactly that reason. Kiteboarding schools sprinkle the beach front every 25 metres and the wind comes up on cue every afternoon. If you are a kiteboarder, this is the place for you!
We stayed at the Viva Wyndham Tangerine, an all inclusive resort. Having never stayed at one of these before it was amusing to have 24 hour eating and drinking on tap! The Tangerine is a 3.5 star resort ( some sites say 3, some say 4) and my comments would be that the food is mostly good, the alcohol is terrible unless you drink beer, the rooms are good depending on which one you get and the staff range everything from outstanding to surly! There are activities scheduled each day and on one day we came home to this foam party happening in the pool!
The resort is located in a small beach town called Cabarete where there are a few gift/ T-shirt type shops, some restaurants and a couple of other little stores. There is a small supermarket so if you were in accomodation that was self catering you would be able to do so. Word of warning though… the supermarket is small and the variety of items is pretty limited.
There are a number of day trips that can be booked out of the resort as well as through other booking sites. We used the Air Transat rep to book the 12 waterfalls tour and used AirBnB experiences for another. The 12 waterfalls trip was well worth doing. You are not actually seeing 12 waterfalls, rather jumping off ledges or sliding down rocks slides into pools below. It is a fantastic trip and well worth doing. Helmets, life jackets and water shoes were provided.
The other trip that was worth mentioning, I found on Airbnb. It was cheaper on this site than any other and was run by Urban Adventures. We did the tour where you begin at the farmers market and walk through the town, go to a cemetery, eat a local speciality (deep fried plantain filled with cheese) from a guy cooking over an open fire in a little hole in the wall (delicious and only 20 pesos!). I particularly enjoyed watching local craftsmen make jewellery out of the local stone Larimar. I was able to purchase a bracelet with lots of stones for 2000 peso (40 USD) which on the beach or in the shops would have been worth 150 USD at least. We watched them cut the stones from scratch and solder the silver. Nice to be able to buy off the people who actually do the work.
It was an excellent tour however getting to Puerto Plata from Cabarete is expensive -90 USD return. On the kiwi dollar, this makes anything you do where you need transport pretty expensive.
Another trip we had hoped to do was a snorkelling trip in Sosua however the dive centre in the hotel tried to rip us off so we decided against it. Watch out for people asking for extra money if you pay in pesos or charging extra at the last minute as other people on the tour have changed days and now it has to be a private trip!! Walk away if this happens. They will come after you but we decided against going.
I think the Dominican Republic would be pretty hard to travel independently and it looks like the All Inclusive Scene is where it is at. Probably not my bag but wouldn’t entirely discount it in the future. It is definitely a no stress option!