Central Cabarete is flush with reasonably priced hotels most under $150 a night, even during holiday season. Boisterous crowds cram the beach bars lining the central part of the bay, so move to the edges if you want some relaxation. Several hundred yards west of the bars, there’s beachfront suites with fully equipped kitchens at Palm Beach Condos (from $140) on a quiet section of the shoreline.
West of town at Natura Cabañas (from $60), there’s a cluster of eleven fan-cooled, palm-leaf-roofed huts on a stretch of usually deserted beach. Unplug (no TVs or phones) with spare bamboo-and-rattan furniture, a kitchenette, and a stone veranda with swinging hamacas.
Ditch the X Games scene altogether at Casa Colonial (from $350) a half-hour from Cabarete in Puerto Plata. The swankiest property on D.R.’s north coast (at least until Boykin Curry’s private resort, Playa Grande, opens a few miles away in 2008), the 50-suite hotel is filled with Donatella Versace types splashing around the rooftop infinity pool and dining at the high-demand restaurant, Lucia.