Week of January 12-18, 1996
The Dominican Republic for a budget vacation
Q: I want to go to the Caribbean for scuba diving, mountain biking, and hiking. I think that the Dominican Republic may offer the best of these three sports. I can't spend much; any suggestions?
A: The Dominican Republic is a great choice for a wallet-friendly, high-octane, boredom-free Caribbean vacation. For reasonable accommodations, we recommend basing yourself at the 24-room Carabete Beach Hotel on the island's north shore, where a deluxe double room with a balcony will cost you $92 per night. Skip the ocean view and you'll pay only $62 a night double occupancy. And don't worry about losing sleep during those warm Caribbean nights. All rooms have either air conditioning or ceiling fans. While you may be tempted to lounge around sipping rum on Carabete's secluded, seven-mile beach, there are so many equally compelling alternatives within a five-minute walk from your hammock that the biggest challenge will be figuring out what to do first.
For diving, stop by the Dolphin Underwater Adventure Dive Center, an easy three-minute walk from Carabete in the nearby village. They offer four-day certification courses for $350 per person and guided one-tank dives for $35. If you're looking to trade in your scuba fins and mask for fat tires and a helmet, stop by the Iguana Mama Mountain Bike Center (809-571-0908), a few doors down from the dive center. Pick up a front-suspension Kona or Scott for $100 per week and sign on with a guide who knows the easy trails and singletracks through the lush mountains. Half-day trips will set you back a mere $20-$35. While you're there, you'll probably be able to pick up suggestions for day hikes through the island's rainforested foothills.
With steady 21-knot sideshore winds and 75-degree water, Carabete's real claim to fame is its world-class boardsailing. Toss in an eight- to ten-foot wave break 600 yards out on the reef, a speed slalom zone straight to the north, and a full-service Carib Bic boardsailing center right next door, and it's no surprise why boardheads gather at this unglitzy hotel on this remote stretch of shoreline. If you've never windsurfed before, sign up for one to five hours of private instruction for $30-$125 per person or two to five hours with a group for $45-$100. Or, if you're an old hand, opt for Carabete's special $77 per person/per day boardsailing package, which includes a deluxe room, an advanced board, and full use of Carib's sea kayaks, bodyboards, surfboards, and snorkeling gear. Add $18 for two meals daily.
For more information, call the Carabete Beach Hotel at 809-571-0755 or the Carib Bic Center at 809-571-0640, and be sure to check out "The Hyperactive's Caribbean" in the Destinations section of our December 1995 issue.