photoshop, then and now, time capsule, cabarete, dominican republic,

Then and Now – Cabarete, DR

photoshop, then and now, time capsule, cabarete, dominican republic,

Humans have had an impact everywhere in the world. Some places are still preserved as the people who live there understand how important it is to keep things balanced. Unfortunately, not everywhere in the world is like that. Cabarete, located in The Dominican Republic, is a perfect example of that.

Over 25 years ago my mom and dad came to the Dominican Republic. My mom being a native Dominican and father loving to travel, it was a perfect destination to come to. They ended up settling in the very small town of Cabarete. Everything was still true to the Dominican roots and being here, I’ve been told, felt like a complete escape from the rest of the world. Although it still has that feeling now, compared to my earlier years coming here on vacation, the change is huge.

aerial, cabarete, dominincan republic, beach, islandTHEN

cabarete, aerial, dominican republic, island, beachNOW

Cabarete was making its way onto the map for its optimal water sport conditions and little by little more and more people started arriving. The main attraction being windsurfing and surfing as the waves and wind worked here like clockwork and still do. Not only has the landscape changed but so have the water sports. You used to step on the beach to see hundreds of windsurf set ups laying in the sand and now there are hundreds of kites pumped and laid out on the beaches.

windsurf, surf, beach, ocean, cabareteTHEN

kiteboarding, dominican republic, sports, water sports, kiteNOW

As the people started coming so did the investments. Hotels popping up left and right, apartments for foreign residents, bars, restaurants, surf shops and more. Roads started getting paved and services like internet and cable TV became available. Over the past 25-30 years the change has been huge. If you where one of the first to arrive in the early 80’s you may not even recognize the place anymore.

With time, many of the people who where here when it all started left, but many also stayed. It’s amazing to see places still in business after being one of the first. Living in that time was an era of freedom. As told to me by a local friend who was here in the beginning, you could roam any beach you would like and even spend days naked on beaches, only to have locals bring you fresh fruit and home made food, but that story is for another post.

cabarete, street, old, natureTHEN

cabarete, street, cars, businessNOW

Cabarete isn’t the only place to have changed. Have you lived in one area for a longgg time? If so what changes have you seen and do you have any before and after pictures you could share with us? Have a beautiful day =)


  1. I use to live in Nice (France) Even though it was at that time a big and already a touristic city , it still had his culture ,, its traditional architecture and handicrafts, even it’s own dialect. The old city part was still like it was I believe in the middle age : each street had his own stuff, you had the butcher street, where you could compare the price and the quality of any piece of meet and specialties. Another one was the baker street, with its typical perfume, Than you could get to the fish street or woodcraft street etc… Today I cannot recognize my city. It became an cosmopolitan city and lost whole its culture. Bye the architecture, bye the old city ,hello made- in -china-handcraft-shops. Bye its dialect, hello international languages. Bye traditional culture , hello globalization…

    1. Puerto Plata is similar in respect to every street has it’s own stuff. We where driving by the other day and saw at least 15 break repair shops and then further down are the full mechanics and so forth.

  2. I first stumbled into Cabarete in 2002 with a group of eager students bound for Los Brazos, where the road to Moca crosses the Rio Yasica,. They were on their way to do their part and assist in the refurbishing of a small mountain school, that taught the 18 Dominican and Haitian foster children of Paulina Tremblay. She was one of the original Orilla de Mar Quebecois settlers of the Cabarete area. You may still see her around town with a few grown children in tow, and more grey hair to show.
    It was because of meeting her that I have chosen to returned for the next 10 years straight, sometimes only a couple weeks or for a ‘high season’ to work behind the bar at Jose O’Shays. Emigrating home for summer only to return in early winter and ride out the northern chill like so many of my international friends.
    My first love on the island has always been the children. Their way of inviting you into their lives like old friends, making you feel special even when they can’t see how special they are. I have had the pleasure to work with multiple nonprofit agencies in town and have walked every street in Callajon and seen a small dirt road to the mountain transform into a major traffic corridor for the ‘local’ community. I have seen the innocence of a fishing village where you could walk home alone turn into a writhing sea of party goers who stop at nothing until every inch of downtown is littered with Styrofoam and empty liqour bottles.
    Then or Now, honestly I would prefer Then when the lagoon wasn’t so polluted that it burns till every roof top is dusted with soot, and the main street could be crossed safely day or night. But if I choose Then, then it means that I would wish away a lifetime of friendships from so many countries that my passport wouldn’t hold the stamps. I instead can only hope that the people that love it so much would stand up and fight for her more, Cabarete deserves it more because for a lot of us she has saved our lives and we owe her beaches and people so much more.
    I will always return (my son’s extended family is one of the original 6) and so will you!

    1. Thanks you so much for taking the time to write us such a thoughtful and beautiful comment.
      Cabarete is indeed a very special place. I can’t say that I’ve been here long enough to understand the ins and outs of all of its issues, but it could definitely do with a little cleaning up, in more ways than one. I don’t think the tourists are the only ones to blame; poor investing, poor education, and poor governing all seem to be aiding the even growing infestation of plastic by-products and leeching chemicals… we need a better infrastructure here.

      But regardless it’s still a very free place… for better or worst, we’re all free to be ourselves in Cabarete. :)

      1. Free… is a great word to use when describing Cabarete. I often think of the Statue of Liberty’s old meaning when I breathe a sigh of relief upon landing at a D.R. airport.

        “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Your homeless, tempest tossed… (that’s the most relevant part I think) There is a sense of freedom and peace here. It is magical little slice of the world. Where nobody is worried (or most people anyway ) about keeping up with the Jones’, what shoes they wear (if any!) or if they brushed their hair that morning.

        We interact here in Cabarete with the poorest of poor, the richest of rich and everybody in between. Local expats and tourists that find their way to this little town are not your typical travelers, trustafarians or escape artists. They all seem to be searching for some kind of freedom or relief. I do think the Dominicans teach us some kind of warped version of how to live in the moment as well… and that is just part of what I love about them.

        I came here the first time in 1993 with my Dominican boyfriend as an escape from my hectic job in Santo Domingo. It was sparse and peaceful and if you blinked you would miss the real beauty of Cabarete. I felt free.
        I came again in 1996 with my multicultural, world traveled wind surfing champion friend. On this trip I experienced the local culture, a freedom of expression as well as meeting people from all over the world. I felt free.
        After the death of my husband in 2004 I sought out Cabarete as a respite for my son and I and a group of friends who had stood by us through 5 years of his illness. We were an eclectic group but we all came away with a new perspective on everything. That trip, and what we experienced here within ourselves and by “compartiendo” with the locals, changed all of our lives. We felt free.

        After that I came back every year until I moved here to “start a new life” in 2010. I could have gone anywhere, but I chose Cabarete …for the beauty it once was and the hope it’s future held. It has changed a lot visually, but I believe the old vibe and super cool aura still remains.
        As a business owner here I see everyday the people who find refuge here. Who start over here, that find acceptance here, who get renewed here. Who find their calling or their courage here. People who help others, who give back and also take away something very special from Cabarete.
        Change and growth seem to be in inevitable part of life for people and scenery alike. But like an old friend I believe if you open your arms to Cabarete it will open it’s arms to you, no matter how it has changed on the exterior. It is the soul of Cabarete that lives on in all the nooks and crannies that have been built over. You just have to be open to it.

        I hope that part of Cabarete will never change!

        1. Beautiful words. I very much agree with the sentiment. For me so far Cabarete has been a sort of purgatory… a place to shed my old skin and move on. I don’t personally see myself staying here forever, as of the current moment (but who knows) but the “freedom” and lack of judgement you alude to has tremendously helped me become more in tune with my true self. =) Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  3. I went to Caberete in 2007, I have some great “Then” pic’s, so Sad it’s changed, I loved it then.

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