There’s a reason Cabarete has made a reputation for itself as the adventure sports capital of the Caribbean. Want to surf, SUP, kiteboard, or windsurf? We got a beach and season for that. Though I’m a kite chica at heart surfing was my first Cabarete love—and if you’ve ever been to our local surf spot, Encuentro, you’d know why.
The surf schools add a picturesque touch to the beach; their brightly painted walls and thatch roofs stand out against the green of the mini forest that rules Encuentro. These trees and the many hammocks hung from them provide a nice shade to sit in when you’re not in the water. The roosters, chickens, and lizards darting through the leaves on the ground give the impression that this jungle is barely-tamed and great care is taken to keep the beach clean of human-waste. The best part is that the beginner’s area is is only shoulder’s deep (take it with a grain of salt I’m only 5’1” so it might be deeper or shallower depending on your height).
One of the unique things about Encuentro is that its one of the few places in Cabarete that is almost entirely locally-owned and operated. Most of the surf schools are owned by locals who have been surfing pretty much their whole lives giving it a vibe you simply cannot find anywhere else in Cabarete.
So to help you find these local gems, I thought I’d put together a list of the different surf locally-owned surf schools in Cabarete and a little bit about each of them. And if you’re into doing your research before you come here’s a handy guide to surfing in Cabarete and a cool video of Encuentro, and another of the different areas of Encuentro and what kind of waves you’ll find there.
Pauhana is a surf school is best known in my circle as the one that is always hosting awesome competitions (even a doggy surf competition) and has a surf camp for kids, but it turns out they offer so much more than that. When asked to explain what he thought made Pauhana unique, Rafa, one of Pauhana’s surf instructors, smiled and said “I know everyone says this, but we work hard to make our students feel like they’re our friends and part of our family. We don’t just take your money, give you a lesson and leave, there’s a connection we foster with all of our students.” Pauhana also spans a sizeable chunk of the North Coast with a branch in Puerto Plata and lodging and retreat accommodation in Gasper Hernandez-making it a great place to book with if you want to see more than just Cabarete during your stay!
Chino's Surf School
Chino Fung has the stoic, calm demeanour of a man who lives for the ocean. When he’s not ripping the waves at Encuentro, you can often find him seated in front of his school gazing out at the beach keeping an ever watchful eye on his students and instructors. The seriousness gives way to a hundred-watt smile when he talks about his school. Chino Surf School opened in 2003 and moved to Cabarete in 2006 and was, he declares proudly, one of the first official surf schools in the Dominican Republic. He was born and raised in this sport, for him its much more than just a tourist activity. He focuses on teaching students more than just how to get up on a board, which is the easy part. Chino strives to make sure his clients walk away with a foundation of surf knowledge, theory, and technique. Both beginner and advanced students will walk away with knowledge of the most efficient best ways to paddle, stand, and turn.
Bobo Surf's Up Surf School
Bobo Surf’s Up Surf School is run by yet another professional waterman, what can I say, they abound in Cabarete. Victor Peralta, affectionately known as Bobo has been in the sport for thirty years, 17 of which he has spent working as a professional surf instructor. One of the local breaks of Encuentro beach is even named after him: Bobo’s Point. Bobo’s school offers surf lessons as well as surf packages for those who want to take the stress out of planning their vacations, and the best part is they cover all sorts of budgets and accommodation styles so there’s sure to be something that’s up your alley.
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