When you see Playa Encuentro, any preconceived notions about the Dominican Republic are immediately put to rest. A virtually unspoiled beach, some isolated huts hidden in the lush vegetation, not a single resort on the horizon… This small stretch of the northwest coast of the Dominican Republic, near Puerto Plata, has some of the most pristine surfing and kitesurfing spots on the island. Shall we go?
A design motel with a Caribbean touch
We checked into the El Encuentro Surf Lodge, a motel-inspired property with a colorful, airy Caribbean feel. Our studio, ideal for a group of 3 or 4, is a stone’s throw from the restaurant and across from a beautiful, large pool that invites you to take your first dip. After that, you can sunbathe on the deck chairs provided or enjoy a drink on the colored, sunny terrace.
Free yoga classes, surf school, fast Wi-Fi connection and private parking on site complete the well thought out offer of this young hotel. It has a friendly bohemian ambiance. A la carte breakfast is included in the room rate, and there is a kids’ table in the restaurant with a few toys so kids can wait their turn. And what can I say about the staff: absolutely charming, especially with the little ones.
It’s time to hit the beach! It’s only a three-minute walk from the hotel down a private path lined with flowers and plants. Paradise? yes, it is!
Surf & farniente
Surfers and kiters share the ocean at Playa Encuentro. In the morning, the high tide provides a great playground for surfers, while the low tide and the arrival of the wind in the afternoon reveal the sails of (very) experienced kitesurfers. A colorful and spectacular ballet.
For a gentle introduction to the sport, our choice was the school of the Cabarete Surf Company, where we were in the company of qualified instructors. The early morning hours are the perfect time to catch some of the best waves. Please note that the beach is covered with pebbles. If you are sensitive to this, it may be best to wear water shoes.
Encuentro Beach is also great for families, thanks to the small natural pools formed by the rocks. This is an ideal place for children and toddlers to play and relax.
Our favourite restaurants in Playa Encuentro
The village around Playa Encuentro is easy to explore on foot and has a number of good dining options.
Just steps away from the ocean, we loved the small bohemian beach huts offering fresh juice, brunch and light, healthy food, such as Pura Vida Encuentro.
With the waves crashing in the background, the Coconuts Restaurant at the Hideaway Beach Hotel offers an international menu and good grilled fish. Across the street is a “sea view” garden where kids can stretch their legs.
Of course, there’s also the hotel’s El Encuentro restaurant, which continues to be an easy, simple and delicious choice.
In the heart of the village, we enjoyed exploring Plaza Encuentro, a mini open-air mall with restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and yoga and exercise studios. Try the brunch and pastries from the 100% PAN craft bakery.
Finally, take a stroll along the boardwalk and 30 minutes later, dine at one of the hotel’s Natura Cabana restaurants: Karaya by day and Natura at night. There’s a wonderful energy in this very natural setting that looks out onto a magnificent, wild, sandy beach with powerful waves.
Explore other culinary delights and get caught up in the nightlife of Cabarete, located just fifteen minutes drive from Playa Encuentro. The party is just getting started…