Kiteboarding Travel Guide: Punta Salinas, DR - Destinations EP 07
WIND BY SEASON
WIND BY SEASON
Kite season in the Dominican Republic is typically from December to September, with conditions typically being stronger in spring and summer and a heavy rainy season in October and November. Punta Salinas is in a micro climate where it is possible for there to be wind year round, but those who wish to visit this spot should watch the forecast and be sure to go when the forecast looks good. When the rest of the island is cloudy and rainy, you may still find sun and wind in Punta Salinas.
A visit to Punta Salinas is an adventure in itself. It's an off the beaten path kite spot in a local mining and fishing village. You may be the only kiter on the water on a windy day in this spot! There are few options for tourist type organized trips and activities, visitors to the Dominican Republic will find many more options in the major hotspots like Cabarete or Punta Cana. Punta Salinas is a spot where it's essentially all about kiteboarding! With a bit of planning and help from local contacts like Kiteology DR, you can organize a snorkel or SCUBA dive trip in this spot or go 4x4ing on the beach.
Kiteboarding lessons and trips
Punta Salinas is not a spot where you'd go in search of waves. On strong wind days, you'll find small to large chop in the bay which can be used as ramps or kickers for jumping and tricks.
Depending on the wind direction, you can find a few small flatwater spots here in Punta Salinas. From the launch spot on the point, there is a very small but often very flat spot just offshore of the point which is fun for tricks, but reserved for experienced riders who feel comfortable riding in offshore conditions. If you upwind further up into the bay, you can discover a couple more small flat spots around the shoreline.
This spot is both beginner friendly, and not at the same time! Meaning... it's a great place to learn if you are accompanied by a kite instructor or experienced kiteboarder as it is not crowded. Beginner riders will be most comfortable if they stay above the point in the onshore and side-onshore spot. When it's super windy, the gusty conditions and launch can be challenging for beginners. Due to it's remote nature, a kite trip to this spot is only recommended if there are experienced kiteboarders in the group.
SCUBA diving and snorkel trips/gear - GUS Dive Center
Explore sand dunes - Dunas de Bani
Diving at El Derrumbao beach - DiveBuddy
Most visitors to the Dominican Republic will be based in Punta Cana or Cabarete. Punta Salinas is about a 3 hour drive from Punta Cana and 5 hours from Cabarete. It's easy to rent a car in either spot and drive. The closest airport is Santo Domingo, just over an hour away from the kite spot. For information on other airports, check out the Cabarete Spot Guide.
Kiteboarding Spot Guide
When kiteboarders think of the Dominican Republic, the first thing to comes to mind is typically the busy beaches and party vibes of Cabarete. But sometimes a kite trip should be about just that – kiting. On the southern coast of the DR is a kite spot so pure, it will blow you away. This sleepy kite spot is a windy escape for the locals, but they’re ready to welcome some new faces.
Ready for your secret session in the Dominican Republic? Head to Punta Salinas! When it comes to hidden gems, this spot is a rare one. Only an hour from a major airport, Punta Salinas is a small ocean front fishing village at the end of a bay which is home to a salt mine and naval base. When you first drive up to the kite spot, it feels like discovering something special.
But this spot may not be a hidden gem for long. The Puntarena project has broken ground across the bay. This sustainable tourist development will be bringing vacationers from the DR and around the world to enjoy this natural paradise, and open the door for kiteboarders and watersports lovers to experience this spot.
We’re going to give you the low down on Punta Salinas as well as everything you need to know to plan a trip here!
In most of the Dominican Republic, the windy season is fairly well defined. But Punta Salinas exists in a micro climate, which means it has the potential to be windy all year round. When the rest of the country is waiting out the rainy season, you'll still find sunny and windy days in Punta Salinas, where the thermal winds mean super peaceful mornings and nuking wind in the afternoons. On a hot day, you may see wind blowing from about 18mph to 35mph depending on time of day. A small kite definitely comes in handy in this spot!
When it comes to predicting the windy days, local knowledge is essential. It often comes down to having a chat with a local fisherman to find out what’s happening with the wind. If you don’t have time to beef up your Spanish skills and make friends with some fishermen, reach out to the team at Kiteology DR. Their kite school is a few hours away in the Bavaro/Punta Cana area, though they often make the trip over to Punta Salinas. They’ll have all the insider info on what’s happening with the wind, and if the forecast is good they may have some trips open that you can book onto!
Weather / Temperature
When you think of weather in the Dominican Republic, tropical is the first thing that comes to mind. But this spot has a lot more of a desert vibe than the rest of the island, so bring your summer clothes and a LOT of sunscreen! Expect hot, arid temperatures of around 80 farenheit/25 celsius most of the year. It can feel even hotter when the sun is radiating off the sand in the heat of the day, so be sure to come prepared for these conditions.
The main launch spot here is right at the point. Basically, drive through town and keep following the main road until it ends, and you’ll be there! Playa Punta Salinas splits the bay from the ocean, with the wind typically blowing through the bay onshore onto the point and offshore on the other side out to the ocean. When the wind shifts, you can find spots all along the bay, but this is the best spot for ease of access. It's a sandy/shelly beach with a few palm trees, but being a local fishing village you may encounter debris on the beach, so check the area before you rig up and go.
Once you're in the water, you can explore the whole bay including the mangroves on the other side and get up close to the naval base and marina on your board. If the wind is cranking, the water can be quite choppy in the bay. Near the launch spot you’ll find much smaller chop, great for practicing jumps and tricks. If you're comfortable with offshore riding, below the point is a small but epic piece of flatwater.
Riding level & Style
Level: This spot is relatively friendly to all levels of kiting, but because of it's remote nature, I would recommend it to intermediate and advanced riders. If you're still learning or not 100% independent as a kiter, be sure to go with an experienced crew, or organize a trip or lessons with Kiteology DR. Beginner kiters should be extra careful when launching and stay in the bay upwind of the launch spot.
Riding Style: This spot works for everyone, with the main styles of riding being freeride, big air, foil, and freestyle. The wind can get really strong here, and gusty because the wind is traveling over land and many obstacles. But that means if you’re a big air lover, you can send it hard! The flatwater below the point is a perfect place to practice freestyle, and foilers will have the most freedom to explore the bay which has plenty of unique features to see.
Facilities & Cautions
Facilities: Punta Salinas is fairly light on facilities, so bring your own water and snacks to the spot. There are no bathrooms or changing or shower facilities - this is wild kiteboarding at it's best. You need a car to get here unless you have planned a group trip including transfers with your local kite center. Once the watersports centre at Puntarena is finished, you'll have endless comfort and amenities, but for now? Embrace nature!
Cautions: You’ll want to be cautious of the debris on the beach here. Be careful where you’re walking and rigging your gear. When you launch and land, stay clear of the power line and palm trees on the beach or ask for assistance from a more experienced rider. In the water, there is some shallow reef just off the point you won’t want to crash into, which you can see from the beach. And of course, if you're riding below the point... make sure you know what you're doing, because if you screw that one up.. it's just you and the ocean, baby! But in all seriousness, there are no lifeguards or safety boats available here. Never kite alone in a spot like this, and stay above the point unless you're a confident kiter or a great swimmer!
Punta Salinas is the perfect spot for a 2 or 3 day getaway, or even works as a daytrip if you want to experience a new spot. If you’re already visiting one of the hotspots in the Dominican Republic like Punta Cana or Cabarete, organizing a side trip to Salinas is fairly simple. Here’s a quick start guide to help you plan your trip!
How to get there
If you want to start your trip in Punta Salinas, I recommend flying into Santo Domingo and renting a car. This spot is about an hour drive west of Santo Domingo. It’s more likely that you may be starting your trip from one of the DR’s other major kite spots – check out our Cabarete Travel Guide for tips on traveling to the Dominican Republic. It’s a 4-5 hour drive from Cabarete and 3-4 hour drive from Punta Cana. You’ll definitely want to rent a car, or organize a trip with the crew at Kiteology DR.
Where to stay
At present, there aren’t many options for accommodation here in Punta Salinas. There's a small hotel in town and a few villas on AirBNB. Again, local contacts are everything in this spot. Reach out to Antonio or Humberto at Kiteology DR for some local accommodation options. Because it's not too far from Santo Domingo, you always have the option of staying in the city where you have infinite accommodation options and amenities at every price point. You can always drive out to Salinas when the wind is on!
What to eat & drink
I hope you like fish, because your catch of the day fried fish here is absolutely delicious. There are a few restaurants and food stands in town, and you'll find things like fresh fish, barbecued chicken, and fried plantains. And it's all super affordable!
For shops, there's not much other than corner stores in town. If you're going to be staying a while, go grocery shopping in the city before you come… but keep your eyes open for the fresh fruit stands along the road – definitely worth a stop along the way.
There's a few pretty exciting things you can do here in Punta Salinas, but it's not your typical tourist spot where you can organize guided excursions. It's very much a ‘link up with the locals and explore’ sort of place. Some of these adventures are only accessible with 4WD and proficient sand driving skills, so I wouldn't recommend going it alone on this one! But I would definitely recommend getting out into the dunes if you can, but bring your flip flops - the sand is crazy hot!
There's an incredible fishing spot behind the sand dunes which is beautiful for snorkeling and scuba diving, though you'll need to organize equipment in the city before you go. We got equipment from Gus Dive Center in Santo Domingo.
If you're here with family, wandering around checking out nature is an adventure in itself. There are iguanas and goats everywhere.. you can walk and hike up the dunes, and there's a tower out in the dunes that you can climb up for an incredible view of the salt flats and the bay! The salt mine is like something out of history with no modern technology to be seen. Definitely stop by and check it out.
The salt mine is like something out of history with no modern technology to be seen.
This is the perfect spot for a day trip or to stay a night or two with a group of friends, but kiteboarding is really the draw here. Come here for some incredible nature and unforgettable kite sessions, and get your usual adventure and nightlife fix in Punta Cana or Cabarete!
Punta Salinas is one of those destinations that you have to see for yourself. If you're planning a trip to the Dominican Republic and want to experience something absolutely unique, this is the spot. Set aside a day or three and come check it out!
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Crystals 2018 Gear picks.
North Kites USA team rider and a MACkite team rider. Originally from Canada, she now calls the entire world her home, playground, and her workplace. She goes where the wind blows - so if you see her at a kite beach somewhere in the world, say hello! Her primary goal is to share her love of kiteboarding and travel and all the lessons learned along the way with the world.
Written and produced by Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic and Crystal Veness