In one sentence, I’d call the trip to Punta Cana ‘Kitesurfing in Paradise’, don’t confuse with ‘Kitesurfing Paradise’ …
General vacation info
I was originally hunting for a trip to Cabarete, after our family settled on the Dominican Republic. Having heard its reputation as the mekka for wind/kite-surfing. However, given our trip constraints and that apparently no major tour operator offered Cabarete in late November, we picked Punta Cana.
It should be noted, that I travelled with my wife and a 2 year old, so our ideal vacation involved kitesuring, but not necessarily was defined by it.
I am no expert about Caribbean’s, this is my first time here, but this place is insanely beautiful. We picked Gran Bahia Principe – Bavaro, travelling with Spies (2weeks all inclusive – 24.000 dkk for our family). This charter is operated by Thomas Cook Airlines (direct 10h flight from CPH), and they have a rather steep pricing for the special luggage – 1.100dkk for a small 15kg quiver bag (there was also a possibility for 30kg for 1.800dkk).
According to little information I found online, poor windguru stats, small email conversation with a local freelance instructor and only 1 kiteschool in this area, I assumed this is very different from Cabarete, and only took 1 board and my 2 largest kites (12 and 10) not setting my hopes too high.
My TripAdvisor review with lots of details.
The beach is gorgeous, fine white sand, with the palm trees background. It’s quite wide, but then densely packed with sunbeds, umbrellas and people. The water, with a lovely turquoise color, gets deep quick, and shallowish again some 50-100m from the shore. It was choppy/small waves before noon, and a bit more frequent, still small but in my opinion more powerful, waves in the afternoon. Gran Bahia Principe owns approx. 1km of this beach.
Right in the middle, where all hotel roads lead, and tons of often drunk tourists are packed, any launch or land is a rather stupid idea, but on the far ends of the beach things look quite differently… Especially on the west end, where a 0.5km gap until the next hotel starts (tip: for almost no walking with your gear, and best vacation experience in general, book Gran Bahia Principe Amber – no children allowed here though). This is where we showed up in the morning, enjoying little crowds, peace, and a very characteristic horizontal palm tree.
There is no help with setting up your gear, no help with launch/land, no school to rent/repair/assemble/store, no rescue (there is some general lifeguard that I hope would save my ass if things went terribly bad). But, there was a generous area of rather flat water just for me. I threw some pics below, no retouch – it was one of the cloudiest days.
Of course, unlike Cabarete where people are used to the view, here a kite is quite the sensation of the day for many, stopping to take pictures and starting a small talk.
I read online about dangerous reefs and traffic on water – this is bullshit, saw one reef sticking out of the water, visible from fair distance. They’ve got 2 motorboats from the 70s that I could outrace, for banana ride and similar, and 4 small catamarans, which they don’t even let out on the water when it’s okayish for the 12. Perhaps high season is different, but I doubt it – when it’s windy, it’s waivy, and when it’s waivy it’s empty.
First week, there was some (1-3h) every day, cross-shore and on-shore, especially before noon, quite gusty. I went out 4th day for the first time (some family time first), and 4 days in a row having ~1.5h of fun each time. When it blows, it’s about right for my 12, with some downs when i have to pump a lot, and still loose height, and some gusts when I can build up speed, go upwind against the waives, and jump a bit. One day was very windy in the morning though, and I even unpacked my 10 and had good fun on it, but had to switch to 12 before noon.
The 2nd week was completely quiet. The wind picked up violently on the day of our departure, as there was some small storm passing.
There is no thermal effect here as in Cabarete, and it’s not yet season for the strong Caribbean winds. Having set my expectations rather low, I was positively surprised how many days on water I had, and believe it was worth to take the gear with me. I only met 1 fellow kitesurfer, but poor dude only took a 10 and he’s only had some fun yesterday for the first time.
It’s worth noting that, there is a dedicated kite beach in Punta Cana, however it’s about 50USD taxi ride from here, and having all I need right under my nose, I didn’t feel motivated enough to go there. There is some kiteclub punta cana you can find online with some details.
To sum up, this place really has some paradise touch to it, and with little bit of self-drive kitesurfing is totally possible here. The wind conditions are light, but the memories from riding these waters are priceless. I consider myself intermediate and I’d say this is the baseline experience necessary here. If you’re beginner, you’ll need to find another place, if you’re crazy about kitesurfing, you might want to find another place, but if you want to throw some riding into the mix of wonderful vacation experience, this might be the place for you.