Youri Zoon, a name that most people probably won’t respond to very much. However, for those of you that have heard of him: I imagine that I now have your full attention, as opposed to Facebook or Reddit. Now Mr. Zoon isn’t what’s currently selling masses of Dominican Republic Holidays, no, it’s his profession that’s captured the world by storm and is motivating thousands to get out to this beautiful country in the Caribbean: kitesurfing.
As it stands, he is currently the number one freestyle kitesurfer with the PKRA (Professional kiteboard Riders Association) and that is no easy feat, I can tell you. Check out the video below to see Zoon in action at the 2010 PKRA World Cup Championships (unfortunately he only came third that year.)
Back to the topic at hand, over the last decade or so it seems that kite-surfing has been thrust upon the mainstream market as the most exciting water-based extreme sport (sorry there Kelly Slater, but it’s time to move over) and loads of people have taken it up. Unfortunately for us Brits, if you were going to be realistic about the situation, our only proper place to go would be Cornwall or some other obscure town either along the southern coast or up on the edge or Scotland. Overseas, however ,there are thousands of amazing spots to capture the ideal conditions for the perfect surf.
So you may ask, why the Dominican Republic? Well it’s pretty much down to a special place called Cabarete, featured in the video above, on the north side of the island, which has some of the best surfing conditions in the world. On average 8 out of every 10 days are good for surfing and this is down to every aspect of this specific spot. For starters, you have the warm temperature of the water, averaging at around 26 degrees Celsius all year around, meaning that wet suits aren’t particularly necessary. The best seasons run from mid-December to April and then from June until September, so realistically you only have three months of the year that aren’t so good. You have the beautiful sea and sand as all beaches do, but here there’s an extra aesthetic treat, which actually affects the weather conditions too…
I bring you… Hills! The town that the beach backs onto, backs onto a row of low-lying hills, which have a certain effect on the synthesis on the waves and the wind. This synthesis occurs because of the unique thermal effects that these hills have that effect the wind. So Cabarete is more than just a pretty face, apparently.
Other than magic hills, the Cabarete region has plenty of other features that appeal to tourists and kitesurfers alike. After speaking to a friend of mine who lived out there for a few years, lucky beggar, and earned money teaching kite-surfing, I learnt that there’s plenty going on. He said the atmosphere in general is really friendly and laid back. There’s a mixture of those staying in all-inclusive hotels and those kipping in hostels, but generally everybody is there for the same reasons. The locals are friendly and all very clued up on the sport and there’s a plenty of schools to help you start out, some of which are even ran and owned by ex and current pros. The region is also great for scuba diving and snorkelling, boasting beautiful coral reefs, limestone sinkholes and waterfalls, all waiting to be explored.
So now you know why hundreds are booking holidays to the Dominican Republic, why not tell someone else? Share the news, leave the country, take up kitesurfing and maybe you may one day be a member of the PKRA… Or not.