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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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

view coastline dominican republic

dominican republic cabarete vacation travel

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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Oregon - 8

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

pdx and the gorge. 

pdx and the gorge. 

exploring portland and hood river.

After a week on the Oregon coast, we headed inland to Portland to visit with friends. Portland was quite different from the rest of Oregon. After wondering all week where all the people were in Oregon, we found them in Portland – all of the people. More than half of oregon’s population lives in the Portland metropolis.

It’s a very unique city, with expansive suburbs and traffic to the south and west of Portland, but an amazing River and scenic gorge and far less traffic and people extending to the northeast of portland along the Columbia river.

Oregon Gorge Big Rock - 1 Portland

The gorge at Hood River is only an hour east of Portland, and my husband ranked it at one of the most beautiful places he had ever kitesurfed, up there with fiji and Maui, and Dominican Republic. While it didn’t have any clear blue waters or fishy reefs to stare down at as he floated across the water, he found himself staring up at the rock walls of the gorge that surrounded him as he traveled upriver to explore the beauty. He was soon out of my sight from the shore, so I was able to get back to my book, “The Husband’s Secret, by Laine Moriarty. After I got halfway through the book, I had trouble putting it down. As soon as I finished it, I started in on another book by the same author called “What Alice Forgot.” Anyways, back to Portland.

Oregon Gorge - 1 Portland

Oregon - 1

In the center of the city, you’ll find a typical large city and lively downtown with a unique foodie, yuppie, millennial hippie twist (yep I just used all of the trendy stereotypes in one sentence). If you are looking for bold menus with original food, spend some time eating out in Portland. Dafna, our hostess and good friend from college days, made sure we hit the right places. However, since we don’t have the patience to wait in lines, we skipped the “Salt & Straw,” Portland’s most popular ice cream shop that serves up crazy favors like strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper.

Oregon Portland Restaurant

Oregon 4pk use - 1 Portland

We ended up exploring the restaurant and bars on Alberta street mostly due to proximity to where our friends were.  The neighborhoods we explored had lots of greenery, gardens, and nature on display in an attempt to maintain the beauty of Oregon in the crowded city. Melyssa had her heart set on dancing up a storm, but we decided to cozy up with drinks around a table in the back of a bar instead.

Oregon - 4 Portland blue eyes

While most cities seem to adopt policies to deter homeless, we noticed communities in Portland that made gestures to try to make life a little easier for their homeless. For example, some people left food and recyclables on top of public trash cans rather than inside them. This person appears to have created some sort of supply station.

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We could explore all the different neighborhoods and restaurants in Portland for years, but we were mostly there to visit friends. We thank our hosts and miss them already, but we were ready to get back to exploring oregon’s northern coast for the last week of our trip.

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If you missed Part ONE… you can check it out HERE.
Here is Part THREE.

hood river the gorge portland

portland oregon

oregon portland pdx

all of the trees and none of the people.

all of the trees and none of the people.

exploring oregon…


Oregon is beautiful.  We are a bit embarrassed it has taken us this long to finally discover it.  We have flown to many far away countries that would have trouble competing with the state of Oregon as a summer vacation destination. It’s only a 12 hour drive north from San Diego, but it’s a different world across that California/Oregon border. Oregon’s population is only 4 million people vs. California’s 39 million, so you really have an opportunity to enjoy nature.  Put Oregon on your list if you wonder what it might have been like to explore Yosemite 30 years ago. It feels like it has all of the scenery and none of the people.


We packed our car with surfing, kiting, and camping gear and headed north without a schedule or any hotels booked.  We visited family in Long Beach, then drove 6 hours to Sherman Island in Northern California to kitesurf on the Sacramento River and visit more family.


The drive through Northern California was easy except for the truckers that will swerve into you without looking so they can pass another truck that is going 1/2 mph slower than they are (even though both are going 10mph below the speed limit). After passing Yolo and Weed, we were almost to Ashland, our first stop in Oregon just across the border.  The Shakespeare Festival (Ashland’s main tourist attraction), was not on our list, but we did enjoy a beautiful winery nearby and Bazooka Zoo, a “space rock collective” pushing the boundaries of traditional music at a local bar.  They made all of the sounds.

After Ashland, we drove 3 hours to the coast at Winchester Bay.  My brother was camping with his family at the dunes there so we crashed their RV and seafood boil, and rode their quads all weekend.

a-2matt-jumping-1The scenery at Winchester bay is pretty incredible, especially when exploring on a quad.  The wind blew almost every afternoon there, creating fresh unspoiled sand dunes, adjacent to miles of beautiful and empty beaches.

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“Banshee hill” is the most famous and popular hill at the Winchester dunes because it’s the highest hill there.  It’s an exciting ride that provides an amazing view once you reach the top.


After a few days of riding quads without incident, my brother decided to test his limits on steeper terrain.  Unfortunately, he “didn’t quite make the corner” but he did make us laugh.

Father’s Day was a treat for my husband.  After tackling Banshee Hill, he pumped up his kite and went for a cold water kitesurf session while I read on the beach.

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After a weekend of smores and Angry Orchard cider around the campfire, I was eaten alive by mosquito bites the size of tennis balls on my forehead and both of my left cheeks.  We decided it was time to treat ourselves to a hotel.

We drove a few hours north on the scenic 101 coastal highway stopping only to take a few photos and to collect another couple of hundred dollars from Oregon’s generous casinos.  We had been stopping briefly at casinos along the drive north all week, and luck be a lady because I was on one heck of a hot streak.



After reaching Newport, we decided to stay for a night to enjoy the wide open beach.  There is an impressive number of available campgrounds all along the Oregon coast but the casino winnings were burning a hole in my pocket, and so we enjoyed an oceanview room at the Shiloh inn (only $105) and tasty grub at Nana’s Irish pub.


We walked all over the small town and bay bridge in the morning before heading north again to Lincoln city.  Lincoln City is a bit larger than the other coastal towns we had seen so far, but still quite small.  We are amazed at how few people there are on oregon’s coast.  Small home prices just one house from the water were just $250,000 according to Zillow.


We eventually found a wide open beach called “roads end” with heavy winds and bigger waves.  I pretended to watch my husband kitesurf and snapped a few photos to appease him, but I was really beginning to get into my book “The Husband Secret.”


Afterwards, I scored another win at the local casino so we treated ourselves to a hotel for a few night. It was fabulous to relax in the hot tub and soak our sore muscles.  It was an amazing first week in Oregon!

Click here to see Part 2
Click here to see Part 3

portland oregon all of the trees

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poolside in puerto vallarta.

poolside in puerto vallarta.

friends, fun and sun…

Earlier this year, I went to Puerto Vallarta with one of my old friends from highschool that I rarely see. Vacationing with friends can be a bit of a gamble because it’s like you’re married for the week. Fortunately, Michelle turned out to be a perfect partner.

Puerto Vallarta Cocktails
We all know how much work it takes to maintain a healthy marriage, even when you only see each other a few hours a day. Vacationing with friends means you are together 24 hours a day for an entire week. Every decision you make, from breakfast to what you will do for the day, to what time you will go to bed requires flexibility, consensus and compromise. If your decisions don’t coincide with your partner’s on vacation, things can get ugly fast.

Our ideas of vacation that week were 100% in agreement. Lots of relaxation and reading, share the occasional two for one happy hour cocktails at the pool, take some leisurely scenic strolls, share some nachos, and have a few nice dinners together, but nothing too fancy or over the top. I leave the kiteboarding, surfing, and extreme hiking to my husband. I can be adventurous sometimes, but it’s hard to beat a day at the pool with your girlfriend.

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