If you have been riding up and down Kite Beach for a while, or have arrived for a vacation as an experienced rider, it can be fun to challenge yourself to a downwinder! Just like it sounds, this is a kiteboarding term used to describe taking off from a launch upwind with a transport vehicle at either end of the journey downwind. A downwinder in the ocean is certainly an experience within itself. The dynamic nature of the ocean with its currents, chop, and waves all potentially moving in different directions present their own challenges! The reward is marrying the two sublimely beautiful experiences of sailing and surfing into the one truly amazing discipline of kitesurfing, with the added bonus of taking in the gorgeous scenery and marine life around you.
Kite Beach offers two quick options — either catch a lift to the secret kite spot La Boca and kite the 12 km of shore break back to Kite Beach, or head out from Kite Beach and down to Encuentro, the surf beach about 6 km from us. GoKite Cabarete offers chauffeured and supervised options from both locations, so you can feel safe on this new route and experience.
Downwinders require a different technique than what you are typically used to- as you don’t need to focus on coming back upwind, but rather travelling directly downwind rather than out to sea! The key is to find a balance between keeping the kite flying with enough tension on the lines and maintain a good angle downwind. What seems to work best on our waves is easing off on your back heel pressure and flattening out the board, standing up straighter to a more ‘surfer’ style. Then, hook the kite back and forth between 10 and 2 to build apparent wind, and alternating between edging and riding toeside on your board. Depending on the conditions that day, just play with your angles and the kite and you’re sure to find the sweet spot.
GoKite Cabarete offers half day downwinders to La Boca at super reasonable prices. We leave the school around lunch and drive down a sandy, windy road until we hit the mouth of the Yasica River, which is a flat water kite spot great for practicing new tricks or just gliding across the buttery fresh water. Just be on the lookout for submerged trees and the mangroves on the other side of the river! You have the option to enjoy a fresh seafood lunch at Wilson’s restaurant, or just start cruising and enjoy this favourite local spot for an hour or so. You may even just want to take in the show as local stars practice their latest tricks. After that we head out into the waves and then make our way downwind back to Kite Beach. The shore break here is pretty aggressive, so we recommend even advanced riders wear a PFD and have at least on GoKite supervisor in tow as you kite back. They’ll guide you to the best waves, through the open water, and around the reef at the corner of Cabarete. This ride can take anywhere from 40 minutes to a couple hours, depending on how leisurely you are and how big your group is. It’s your day, so you’re welcome to take your time!
This is a great way to get a new perspective of Cabarete and the beautiful mountains behind it. Depending on the time of year you may also spot some whales, and almost definitely a few sea turtles. Awesome as a group excursion or to make some new kiteboarding friends, this is a not to miss experience while kiteboarding in Cabarete.