Surfing in Cabarete

Surfing in Cabarete

When we think of surf camp, surf school, Surfing accommodation an surf spots, the Dominican Republic may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about surfing, but this Caribbean island is not to be undermined, from Cabarete, Puerto Plata and Playa Grande, options of waves are everywhere. The Dominican Republic is widely known for its excellent wind and kite surfing conditions, but the neighboring island of Puerto Rico steals much of the surfing spotlight. But what not everybody knows is that those howling winter swells that hit Puerto Rico, serve up the same waves along the coast of Dominican Republic, without all the crowds.

With its rocky headlands and long coastline the north coast of the Dominican Republic offers a variety of waves. Whether it’s a mellow wave to learn on, howling freight train barrels, outer reef perfection or speedy beach breaks, you will find it all within the pulsating island city of Cabarete.

When to go

Cabarete has more to offer than merely what meets the shoreline, but if surfing is your main goal, the best season to go is Caribbean wintertime, lasting from October to April.

This is when the biggest swells hit the island. Because of its position on the island (and protecting mountain ranges), Cabarete is generally not adversely affected by hurricane season, but rather receives the big swells that are good for surfing.

What to bring

The water and air temperature is on average 84 degrees Fahrenheit year round, so there is no need to bring a wetsuit. Early mornings can be chilly in the winter and a 1-mill vest will keep you warm and in the water a little longer (chilly by Caribbean standards means 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit).

There are a couple of surf shops in Cabarete should you need some tropical wax, extra gear or fins, but prices vary and everything is not always in stock. It’s a good idea to bring that extra set of fins. Ding and board repair can be done by expert locals, inquire at the surf schools for assistance.

The spots

Playa Encuentro is the most famous surfing beach and offers the most consistent surf along the north coast. On this beach you will find something to suit every level, whether you are a pro or a beginner. This spot can be divided into four peaks:

  • The Left: A wave that breaks fast over shallow reef and is best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers. The Left is a top quality, fast and hollow wave that breaks best on northerly swells and is a heavy wave during a big swell.
  • The Right is a long connecting wave that can run up to 200 meters on a good day with the right swell.
  • Bobo’s Point is a little faster and more challenging then the Right, and is a good alternative when locals are hogging the other peaks. This wave breaks left and right.
  • Coco Pipe is the fourth peak at Playa Encuentro and is a right-hander over shallow reef and is categorized as a heavy wave. Best suited for advanced level surfers.

Destroyer is located south of The Left at Encuentro and is exactly what the name suggests. This wave is a lefthander breaking over extremely shallow, razer sharp coral reef with a strong rip tide, and should only be surfed by advanced surfers.

Kite beach is a break on the outer reef with both left and right-handers. This wave is popular for kite surfers because it’s an exposed spot and picks up a lot of wind. To work for surfing, it needs to be a windless day and glassy conditions.

Bozo beach is close to Kite Beach and offers some speedy takeoffs breaking over sandbars. Works best in the afternoons and is a good option when Encuentro is closing out or too windy. A nice, short and sharp ride can be had when the huge winter north swells hits the coastline.

El canal is a deep water reef left-hander with peeling walls and good sections. The spot is hard to access and you’ll need some local connections to surf this one.

Mananero is a barreling beach break east of Cabarete with some punch and power. The best time to surf is in the early morning with light offshore winds. Lefts and rights are on the menu. Worthwhile to check out when Encuentro is too small, for example in the summer season.

La Boca is a wave located near a river mouth close to La Bahia.

Sousa is located in Sosua Bay and is a decent alternative when Encuentro is closing out. This wave breaks fast in deepwater over coral reef.

Playa Grande is about an hours drive from Cabarete on poorly paved roads, so bring your SUV rental car. This is a good option if waves around Cabarete are too big. Playa Grande is an adventure in itself; so if you don’t go there for the waves, go there for the fresh piña colada, best grilled fish on the planet and breathtaking, epic scenery.

La Preciosa is the neighboring beach to Playa Grande and if possible even more beautiful, hence the name. This wave breaks to the left into a bay and is therefore somewhat sheltered from wind. La Preciosa is a powerful wave and has a lot of juice and works on bigger days. Suitable for intermediate surfers, but with a long paddle to the break in deep water.  Not suitable for beginners.

Plenty of secret spots!

If you have the time, the means and the right connections, empty breaks are all along the coast. Make friends with the locals, or hire an expert local surf guide and go explore Cabarete and the north shore!

Main Photo: Jesus Carcellar