14 days in Cabarete – the DR on a budget (part 2)

14 days in Cabarete – the DR on a budget (part 2)

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventureSometimes you want to travel someplace you’ve never been, but sometimes you find a special place that keeps you coming back for more.  Cabarete is one of those special places that keeps people coming back for more.  It has so much to offer, but It’s also such a small town that you really get to know the locals that work there as well as many tourists that come back year after year.

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventureLike most popular vacation destinations, Cabarete is full of tourists.  However, the friendly locals are also very visibly present, running their shops and restaurants, taxiing tourists on their motorcycles, teaching kiting lessons, playing volleyball, selling things on the beach, and even climbing trees to cut down coconuts.  It’s impressive how quickly they can scale these trees without ropes.  They can get about 8 pesos (20 cents) per coconut while also helping to prevent death by falling coconuts for unsuspecting tourists.  Before lounging on a chair on the beach, always look up and make sure there are no coconuts above, especially when the wind is blowing.


While at home or on any other trip, my husband checks the wind forecast online daily (not for falling coconuts, but for kitesurfing conditions).  In the last three summers he has gone, the wind has been roughly the same strength (17-25mph) almost every afternoon.

However, even with steady wind conditions this year, he was reminded that kiting is an extreme sport when he accidentally launched about 30 feet across the water and smacked his ribs on impact.  He then had to kite back to shore injured and hobble around for the next few days in severe pain with every breath, cough, laugh, or movement of his rib cage.

This gave him time to take pictures and read on the beach like a “normal” tourist.  Fortunately, he doesn’t think any ribs are broken and he got back on his board a few days later (and the photos below of flying kiters are not of my husband!)

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventureThere is plenty to do near Cabarete even if you don’t want to learn to kite, surf or play volleyball.  Less than an hour away, there are beautiful waterfalls, and several companies offer canyon tours and mountain biking, among other adventures. The tropical island also offers gorgeous displays of nature including interesting birds, geckos, flowers and trees.

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventurePlaya Encuentro is a surfing beach 6km from Cabarete where there are several surf schools and horseback riding riding along the beach.  The waves are typically small in the summer, but my husband got lucky this year scoring head high and overhead waves and long rides.  The break is good for beginning long boarders and advanced riders alike.

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventureThe wind is slightly offshore in the morning switching to side onshore in the afternoon as the land heats up and colder air rushes onshore to replace the rising hot air on the land (thermal wind).  This creates good surfing in the morning and good kitesurfing in the afternoon.  My husband’s favorite thing to do there is kite 6km downwind from Cabarete to Encuentro and then catch a taxi back.

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventureEncuentro beach is quite scenic, with lots of shade, huts and hammocks to relax and watch the surfers.  There is also a nice beachfront hotel next door and horseback riding is only about $25/hour.

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventureAnother popular spot about 5 kilometers from the main strip in Cabarete is La Boca, where the river meets the ocean.  Flat water kiters like this spot for the smooth water conditions, and tourists come for the restaurant that serves excellent shrimp and fish.  The restaurant ferries people across the river for free while the kiters put on a show for the guests.

14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventureThe taxi to and from La Boca cost him just $20, and the friendly driver waited for him while he enjoyed his lunch and watched the kiters.  He knew he could have bargained the price down further but we like to support the local people and economy when we travel.  Marino, the taxi driver was a reminder of the good vibes in the DR – The first thing Marino said when he got into the car to La Boca was “Cabarete – best place in the world man!”
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure
14 days in cabarete jillwiley adventure


In case you missed the Dominican Republic on a budget (part 1) you can check it out HERE!

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settlers of catan: a family favorite

settlers of catan: a family favorite

the best board game you’ve never heard of…

Looking for something to do with your family during your downtime when you travel? We love to take a board game called Settlers of Catan with us whenever we road trip.

Ok, maybe some of you have heard of this game by now.  It has sold over 22 million copies so far, having expanded far beyond its German origins.  However, I suspect many of you have never even heard of it, let alone played it.

We tired of Monopoly, Life, and Trivial Pursuit decades ago.  On occasion we enjoy Catchphrase, but Catan is by far our favorite, holding our attention for over a year now.  We feel most other board games lack strategy, but this one is the perfect combination of strategy and luck.  It may seem like a lot of rules upon first reading of the instructions. However, it only takes one 30 minute practice round to learn how to play this game.

There is definitely some luck involved with the roll of the die. We try to tell ourselves that this must be why our twelve year old keeps beating us. She wins time and time again, so she must be VERY lucky… or her strategy and negotiating skills are top notch! Settlers of Catan requires constant strategy and decision making, which is why we haven’t yet bored of this game. We mostly play it when we travel to our off-the-grid house in Baja Mexico. We also have a copy at home, as well because it is a great alternative to watching Netflix.

This board game is so popular amongst our family that when we are in Baja, there is usually a line for the “next game.” We will soon be adding the expansion pack to our collection because of this, as it would be fun if we could all play together. It is fabulous to watch how each person devises their own strategy and plan of attack. This sometimes leads to frustration for a player, and lots of laughs from the rest of us.

For some reason, several of our friends and family have decided that going for the LONGEST ROAD (one of several ways to earn points) is a path to victory.  However, even if you get points for building the longest road, you can lose the points if someone builds a longer road afterwards.  So the longest road builder will try to discourage others from trying so that he to can focus on scoring new points rather than maintaining the longest road.  “Don’t even TRY to build the longest road.” In fact, our daughter executed one of her best “sneaky” strategies recently in a game. She sandbagged us out of nowhere to claim the LONGEST ROAD and win the game.  Her father was so surprised and annoyed by his defeat that he threw a bit of a tantrum before realizing that he should be proud of his daughter instead of lamenting his defeat.

Check it out… (We are in no way affiliated to Catan… we just REALLY love it!)

settlers-of-catan family game travel blog
the dominican republic on a budget (part 1)

the dominican republic on a budget (part 1)

Looks amazing huh? So there’s two ways you can do this trip to Cabarete, Dominican Republic. One is cheap, and one is ridiculously cheap. My husband does this trip more in the ridiculously cheap category.

If you are willing to rough it, you can stay at Ali’s surf camp for just $28 a night.  This includes continental breakfast and a great dinner. The rooms are very basic, no a/c unless you pay extra, but they do have a fan, bathroom, and mosquito net around the bed (yes, you will be battling it out with mosquitos, insects and intense heat and humidity in the DR). You may also encounter power outages. It’s more like a hostel with private rooms, a beautiful pool, and an excellent outdoor restaurant. There is also a beginner surfing class in the mornings for $20 extra if you are interested. However, the best part about it is that It’s a great place to meet other interesting world travelers who like extreme sports and traveling on a budget.

If I lost you at mosquitos and insects, I don’t blame you, especially with all the concern about Zika and chikungunya, dengue fever and malaria. It’s not my cup of tea either but my husband has some beautiful photos from his recent kitesurfing trip there. He actually takes malaria pills before he goes. This year he is also using a blend of essential oils in a spray bottle, which seems to be keeping those pesky little guys at bay. The mixture is chemical free and uses NO deet. It is made mostly with an “outdoor blend,” but I altered it with a few additional drops of arborvitae, eucalyptus and cedarwood.

If you prefer luxury, there are also plenty of nice beachfront resorts with a/c and less mosquitos because they are oceanfront (Ali’s camp is 10 minutes walk from the beach). You will be paying more than $28/night, but the DR is still one of the cheapest islands in the Caribbean.

The water is clear and it’s almost always sunny out, so it’s also a beautiful place for snorkeling and diving. The sun can be terribly draining though, so there’s plenty of vacationers just lounging at the beach with a book and a mojito. Be sure to try a shot of mamajuana, a favorite Dominican drink made by soaking rum, wine, and honey in a mixture with bark and herbs. Also be sure to enjoy an hour long massage at the beach for only $20.

It’s also probably the cheapest and best place to learn to kiteboard. It’s windy year round, and lessons cost only $60/day vs. over $400/day in the US. On any given day there, you can see 100-200 kites sailing across the water, many of them hurling themselves 30 feet into the air.

After a full day of kiting, you can enjoy 2 for 1 Cuba libres (rum and coke) for about $4. It’s very hard to beat the price and atmosphere of a day at the beach in caberete. The town is swamped with friendly and adventurous tourists, many from Europe (the Germans love this town). The locals are also very friendly and welcoming despite their beach being overrun with tourists crashing kites. Nightlife can be crazy, so you definitely need to be safer and smarter at night in the Dominican Republic.

The town of Cabarete, about 30 minutes from Puerto Plata airport, is quite small so you don’t even need a car once you are there. The main beach, bars, restaurants, and nightlife are all on one short stretch of beach maybe a mile long. The roads are actually quite dangerous though, and so my husband doesn’t recommend a car. He also avoids the motorcycle taxis (motoconchos) and associated “Dominican tattoo” (a common burn tourists get on their calf from touching the hot engine while hanging onto the back of their motoconcho driver). If you need to go somewhere, either walk or take a large taxi the size of a van. The drivers on the roads make extreme kitesurfing look like child’s play.


Here’s a breakdown of the costs for a two week trip in Cabarete (done the “ridiculously cheap” way):

Total cost of trip:
Airfare from San Diego – $650
14 nights at Ali’s surf camp including breakfast and dinners – $392
Lunches and drinks – $300
Transfers/Incidentals – $100

Click HERE for PART TWO… with more tips and photos!

Dominican Republic Cabarete Mamajuana

kiteboarding DR budget travel

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dominican republic cabarete vacation travel

prosopagnosia: face blindness.

prosopagnosia: face blindness.

Left: John Ritter (File:John Ritter 1977.jpg by ABC Television, Creative Commons)
Right: Tim Daly (Tim Daly Shankbone 2009 Tribeca.jpg by David Shankbone, Creative Commons attribution 3.0 unreported)

Anyone else out there think that John Ritter looks like Tim Daly? Didn’t think so. Pretty sure my husband has face blindness, scientifically known as prosopagnosia. He was convinced they were the same person. After much laughter, I texted a few friends just to make sure that he was “wrong.” Everyone responded back immediately and unanimously, “He’s CRAZY!” Part of our reasoning is that… while we all love John Ritter in a comedic way… many of us love Tim Daly for totally different reasons, you know like physical attraction. I can safely say that of everyone polled, no one admitted to having a crush on John Ritter, while many of us were happy to share our affection for Tim Daly.  We meet a ton of people when traveling, and he is always confusing new people he meets or saying they look like some movie star.

How about Matthew McConaughey and Josh Lucas? My husband was convinced they were the SAME person. Not that they “looked alike”… It took some serious convincing to get him to believe that Josh Lucas was in Sweet Home Alabama, not Matthew McConaughey.

prosopagnosia Matthew Josh Lucas

These next two, my husband uses interchangeably. When watching an episode of Revenge, I’ll hear… “He’s Meredith Grey’s dad, right?” Or when watching Scandal, I’ll hear, “Now, that is the guy from The Nine, right?” The answer is always, “No.”

prosopagnosia Perry John

When he told me that Mark Ruffalo and the “guy from the New Girl” were practically twins, I couldn’t help but laugh. My daughters response to this one was even funnier. Her jaw dropped and she said in her best TWEEN voice while rolling her eyes, “Seriously, dad?!”
prosopagnosia Mark Ruffalo
Now… this next one, I’ll throw my hubby a bone. Even I thought that the girl in Swim Fan looked like the girl in 10 Things I Hate About You. Would I get them confused? Not really… but hey, sometimes you have to concede to something.
Does someone you know have prosopagnosia? Or maybe its just an occasional confusion? Any celebrities that you or a friend confuse?

prosopagnosia tim daly face blindness

mark buffalo face blindness

josh lucas prosopagnosia face blindness

oregon: exploring the northern coast.

oregon: exploring the northern coast.

oregon’s northern coast has it all… beaches, camping, kite surfing, wine tasting and more…

Just a couple of hours northwest of Portland, Oregon is Seaside.  Its wide open beaches, long Boardwalk and Proximity to Portland make it one of the more popular beach towns on the coast for families and kids.  We were reminded of Atlantic city and Santa Cruz as we walked along the boardwalk and Broadway street.  If you enjoy a paved morning walk/jog along the beach Boardwalk, people watching and massive public beach space, seaside is the spot for you (or if you are a teenager looking for a place to roam with your friends).


We stayed a night in Seaside but were ready to explore more so we drove south and stop for lunch. Just 30 minutes away is Cannon beach, a gorgeous beach town.  Cannon is where you will find the highest priced beach homes in Oregon. This is due to it’s natural beauty, carefully planned commercial zoning, and proximity to Portland.  The beach has an amazing view of the famous Haystack Rock, and the town has several popular and alluring outdoor eating options.


Our next stop was Manzanita beach.  It’s a very cute little beach town with huge beaches and the Nehalem Bay state park a mile away.  We decided to pitch a tent at the state park and stay a few nights to enjoy nature and relax by the campfire.  When the wind picked up in the afternoons, I dropped my husband off at the beach in Manzanita. This allowed him to kitesurf about a mile downwind back to our campgrounds.

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During our stay at Manzanita, we wandered into the Nehalem Bay winery.  My husband and I were lucky enough to have Ray, the gray bearded eclectic owner (normally traveling) pour us all of his wine as he talked about his orphanage in cambodia.  We loved his wine and style so much that we ordered a case to share with our friends back home.

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Our plan was for a slow trip down the coast back home, enjoying the scenery along the way. However, our neighbor let us know that our Cocoa Kitty was practically howling for us, so we changed plans.  We made it home just a few days later, stopping only to kitesurf in Lincoln city again, catch some live outdoor music in Mt. Shasta, visit my uncle in Northern California, and take more money from the casinos along the way.  Oregon was so good to us that we are already planning our return.

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After spending nearly three weeks exploring Oregon, the place we are most excited to return is probably the Nehalem Bay State Park in Manzanita.  No mosquitos, lots of wind and waves, cute town, and great beaches and campgrounds. What’s your favorite place in Oregon?

***If you’d like to see PART ONE and PART TWO of our trip, be sure to click the links.***

oregon northern coast exploring

travel blog oregon coast

oregon coast travel blog essential oils

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