Deep inhale and exhale. The Caribbean in March. Stepping off the plane, you can smell the salt in the air and feel the humidity on your skin. You’ve made it. You left behind the cooler temps, the winter coats, and boots in exchange for sunshine, tank tops, and flip flops. Yes, finally, a slice of paradise! But not just any beach town. Cabarete and the Dominican Republic is riddled with adventure.
Explorer Chick kicked off our 2017 adventures March 5, 2017 in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Explorer Chicks arrived Sunday ready for adventure. That first day everyone settled in and enjoyed a Yin Yoga practice with a view of the ocean as the sunset. Plus, some very unseasonably high wind.
The winds continued through the night and the next day with storms, so we moved the date of our scheduled Ciguapa Canyoning tour. With the river rising to dangerous levels overnight, Monday became a free day. The Explorer Chicks explored the town of Cabarete, walked the beach, and enjoyed one of Zach’s fitness classes. Frances and Jenn embarked on an epic adventure of their own riding motos north of town for a “Jungle Boat” cruise and a fresh fish lunch.
On Tuesday, we were met with the same poor weather conditions. Winds were entirely too strong for a morning of surf lessons The rest of the week looked promising for all of our adventures. We took one more free day, so we could enjoy all of the adventures in ideal weather.
Half of the Explorer Chicks hopped into a Gua Gua (DR public transport) to Puerto Plata to hike Mt. Isabel de Torres. Despite the rainy conditions, they reached the summit and enjoyed the cable car ride back down.
I joined the rest of the group for a horseback ride through the mountain countryside. We rode past farms with Mom and baby pigs, caught glimpses of the ocean in the distance, and held on tightly as our horses picked their way through some deep mud. Julie’s horse was named Jesus which inspired her to sing Carrie Underwood’s, “Jesus Take the Wheel.” No sooner than she started singing, did her horse decide to toss her after being spooked! She popped up instantly with a big grin on her face. I think the rest of us were in more shock than she was! “It happens!” We made a pit stop at a small colmado for Kola Reals and fresh farm cheese. Yummy! The ride back to the ranch was fast and fun as we were much more comfortable in the saddle and let our horses trot!
On Wednesday we jumped from waterfalls, trekked through the river, and hiked in a gorge. The Ciguapa Falls tour is one of the most adventurous and unique adventures in the Dominican Republic. After being outfitted in wet suits, harnesses, and helmets, we made the short drive to the “trail head” to begin our descent into the river canyon. In the canyon, we hiked and floated through impossibly turquoise waters dwarfed by the steep rock walls on either side. We scrambled up rocks to leap into the blue waters. Our biggest jump was 35 feet! Our scariest jump wasn’t quite as high, but required jumping out with both feet firmly planted. To say the least, it messed with a few of our minds! “Why won’t my legs move!”
The only way out of the gorge is to hike up out of it! The hike out is just as adventurous with steep switch backs on the muddy side from the recent rains. About half way up, some of the Explorer Chicks opted to give their legs a break and hopped on donkeys. Back at base camp, we dined on a yummy, authentic Dominican lunch.
Thursday was a huge day for us! The Explorer Chicks started off their morning with a surf lesson. And, guess what? All 7 Explorer Chicks stood up on the boards!!! Lessons started on land with the very high-tech “surf simulator.” Afterwards, the Explorer Chicks were divided into small groups with instructors and took to the water. Jasmine was quick to get on her board!
In the afternoon, we gathered at the Yoga Loft for an aerial silks class with Greg. After learning the basics of climbing the silks and the foot lock, we moved onto more complex tricks like locking our knee and hanging upside down! (Okay, so maybe not the most graceful, but a blast none the less!).
The silks wore us out with all of that upper body strength! We then moved onto the Lyra.
Friday was an early morning as we were driving to Jarabacoa, the “Dominican Alps,” for white water rafting. The Dominican Republic is home to the highest mountains in the Caribbean with the tallest reaching over 10,000 feet. The higher elevation creates a landscape that is more reminiscent of British Columbia. Pines and towering boulders line the Yaque del Norte River making the times between adrenaline fueled rapids absolutely breathtaking.
I shared a raft with Julie, Abbey, and Jasmine with Franklin as our guide. We were off to a rough start completely out of sync with our paddling. Franklin pulled the raft over to give us a pep talk about working together, paddling together, and listening to his commands since we were about to descend into the canyon. We listened up since none of us wanted to go for an involuntary swim! Not only were our paddles in perfect synchronization, but so was our “wooing.” We sounded like a raucous fire engine coming down the river!
Since our raft was the first to run the rapids, we got to watch Jenn, Barbara, and Cathy run the same lines. Their guide, Carlos, has a signature helmet accessory, a bit of grass sticking out of the top for a little extra flare. Much to our delight their raft finished a line all equipped with matching helmet flair!
After 3 solid days packed full of adventure, a gentle float down the Yasica River in inner tubes was welcomed! We first toured Taino Organic Farm which supplies a portion of our meals at the hotel. Robby shared how the farm strives to be self sustaining through the use of aquaponics, permaculture, and vermiculture practices. The Explorer Chicks even got to taste ripe star fruit plucked directly from the trees.
Following our farm tour, we switched gears for our relaxing float down the river with Presidentes in hand.
I always like to make our final dinner in Cabarete special. This trip was no exception. We hopped into taxi’s to dine at the home of Doug and Marguerite. The Castle Club was a unique dining experience where the couple not only allowed us to stroll through their mostly open aired home and grounds, but also prepared a delicious Caribbean/Mediterranean inspired meal for us. The best part might have just been the chocolate mousse accompanied by rich Dominican coffee.
Saturday night, our hotel and beach front played host to the Afro Beats party. The usual laid back atmosphere of the restaurant transformed when a DJ arrived, the bachatta streamed through the speakers, and locals hit the dance floor. On the beach, a gigantic bonfire was built. (So big it required a few rounds of lighter fluid!). Cathy even sacrificed her decade old sandals to the fire that after countless adventures finally reached the end of life. The party truly was a special treat! The Explorer Chicks had the opportunity to meet with the small, caring, and diverse community of Cabarete. To be a local 💗
Now we’re back home, gearing up for our next adventure, and wondering if Vitamin D withdrawal a thing?
Missed this adventure? No worries! We’re headed there again (and again and again)! Check out our Adventures page for all of our upcoming trips!