The winds that blow constantly southward off the Atlantic swept in a hip young crowd in the 1990s, as Cabarete emerged as the premier windsurfing site in the Caribbean. But only a small portion of the visitors who come here today are actually interested in the waves and jumping on a board. Many bask in the glory of the surfers by day and strut their stuff in the hyper-hip town bars by night.
There's also a lower percentage of all-inclusive hotels in Cabarete than within most of the other resorts of the Dominican Republic. The mood here is youthful, extroverted, and bold, with the majority of visitors moving without any particular loyalty to any individual dining venue, sometimes preparing meals within their rooms, and barhopping at whim after dark. There's a strong sense here of a radical counterculture devoted to sun, fun, watersports, good times, and hard drinking. But at least some of that might change as large-scale developers eye the community for the setting of a new generation of large-scale hotels, resorts, and condos.
To service the needs of the growing number of visitors, the town has attracted some of the most aggressive prostitutes in the Dominican Republic; all ages, all skin tones, all degrees of blatancy. If you're a heterosexual male in Cabarete, you'll absolutely never, ever, lack for female companionship, paid or unpaid.
News of Cabarete's allure has spread among the 20-something populations of Europe. Especially prevalent are visitors from France, Holland, Germany, and some of the Eastern European states like Poland and Bulgaria. There are fewer North Americans here than you'd expect, and a growing number of French and German expatriates.
The big attraction is Playa Cabarete, with its white sands and ideal wind and surf conditions. Cabarete isn't particularly distinguished architecturally, consisting of a series of relatively small-scale hotels, restaurants, and gift shops lining either side of the highway that parallels the north coast. Virtually everything in town lies along this street (Calle Principal), with the exception of small-scale shops that are found on narrow alleyways that bisect the main street.
In November 2006, the government paid for the deposit of many tons of sand to the local beachfront, thereby adding considerably to its allure. Cabarete, incidentally, is one of the very few places in the entire Caribbean that offers as wide a variety of wind- and wave-driven sporting venues. Primary among them are surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, and wakeboarding. (Its aficionados compare it to snowboarding behind a powerboat on the still waters of a river.)