is by plane into Puerto Plata (POP), Punta Cana, Santiago or Santa Domingo. If you are planning on surfing, the North Coast is by far the best and Puerto Plata is the airport to fly to.
The roads these days are pretty good. There is only one principle road that links all the surf spots along the North Coast so getting around is easy. Buses (Beige or white mini-vans locally known as Gua Guas) are very cheap to ride on and you can jump in a shared taxi for next to nothing (20 pesos). Caribe Tours have luxury coaches that will take you from one side of the Island to the other, make sure you wear a sweater though as they crank up the air-con.
Spanish is the language spoken here, but in most major tourists towns, the locals will understand English.
One of the best things about surfing in the Dominican Republic's North coast in the Puerto Plata - Sosua - Cabarete region is the consistency of waves. basically there's a surfable wave at Playa Encuentro 340 days per year. it might not always be double overhead, but anything between waist high all the way to double overhead.
Winter surf season in the DR: Between October and April the waves are biggest (average between shoulder and double overhead waves) and very good for intermediate to expert surfers. beginners can still surf very well on the smaller inside sections of the waves without danger.
Summer surfing season: Generally waves in the waist to head high region, great fro beginners and intermediate surfers
|'secret' left , *Click to enlarge|
Because of the position of the Island, the Dominican Republic, especially the North Coast, is normally unaffected by hurricane season.
Cost of living:
An excellent local beer (Presidente) will cost you $3 USD and a pizza or western meal is around 10-15 USD. Local food is tasty and safe generally speaking and can be had for 4-10 USD.
What to take for a surf trip to the north coast of the DR
No wet suit required; water temp not lower than 78 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, a normal short board will suffice or a longboard or fish to maximize the wave count at Encuentro. For wintertime bring a standard shortboard or fish and maybe something with a bit more length to get you in the bigger waves earlier.
- Remote risk of Hurricane/Tropical Storm in September
|'El Barco' , *Click to enlarge|
Surfing in the Dominican Republic in short:
For a detailed listing of the surf spots in the Dominican republic, check this page>>
Surfing in the DOM REP can be done on both the South and North coast, although the North Coast is the best known for consistently good breaks, so that is where the focus of this report is on.
As mentioned before, the best season is the wintertime when North swells hit the coast. I have stayed in Cabarete in both Winter and Summertime. The first time (Summer) I didn't bring my board, since I didn't expect to do a lot of surfing. In fact, 4 to 5 days out of the week generally had good ride able surf, varying from 2' to 5'
The place I and most others surfed the most is a spot called Encuentro, a mellow (in summertime) reef break.
The reef is flat and forgiving if you are a beginner and are walking in the white water it's wise to bring some booties, or rent them at the spot
|Encuentro , *Click to enlarge|
Encuentro starts breaking at 2' and the main peak is mostly a right hander, although the shorts lefts can be fun as well it can hold waves of up to 10'
The Left of Encuentro is another good wave:
top quality left hander, breaks best on northerly swells, shouldn't be surfed by beginners, since it has more power, a nice barrel but can also be shallow.
A bit further left is a spot called Destroyer, which has the same characteristics. Encuentro rarely gets that busy and because there are a few breaks close together, surfers are nicely spread out.
Cabarete Bozo Beach: In huge winter north swells, a decent, short ride can be had right on cabarete's main beach, Bozo.
|'secret left' , *Click to enlarge|
West of Cabarete is a little known break , which we will not name here.
It's a quality left hander, good walls, close to shore, with a channel, Access to the spot is not that easy.
Ask the friendly folks at Cabarete Swell Surf camp if they can get you there, they also know a fair few other completely uncrowded quality spots within a 5 minute drive either direction of Cabarete.
|'Preciosa' , *Click to enlarge|
East of Cabarete is a beach break with the name of (probably spelled wrong) El Manjanero. Picks up the summer swells very well.
This fast and hollow beach break is exposed to wind, so it's best to get there early. Not much use of a long board there since it's pretty fast.
45 minutes from Cabarete (going East) is Playa Grande, a huge beach/bay which is stunning. Just past this bay is one of the best breaks I have ever ridden, Preciosa (see photo)
alongside this, El Barco. On a Winter North or North East Swell, these are world class waves.
|'Secret reef' , *Click to enlarge|
Secret surf spot of the DR:
Well we can't go and name them here for obvious reasons, but there's plenty of em, you'll have to get to know the right people to find them.
-Wind and kite surfing:
Cabarete is considered one of the worlds best place to do these activities, plenty of schools and rental shops around, best from April to September.
Around cabarete are some great tracks to do this activity, best to go early to avoid the warm mid day sun.
|'Secret reef' , *Click to enlarge|
Close to Puerto Plata are some great waterfalls for swimming, climbing up and jumping off waterfalls. You need to be fit, and not easily scared, since safety instructions are none existent.
-Snorkeling and diving:
Around Sosua Bay there's some good snorkel and diving sites, plenty of tours and rental possibilities.
-Relax: It's the Caribbean, the weather is always warm, the locals are friendly and the rum is very cheap (2 US$) for a bottle.
Places to stay and drink:
Best to base yourself in the town of Cabarete, you will be central to all the surf spots and have easy access to the bars and restaurants. There's a few 'surfer style' accommodations around Encuentro, but unless you want to find yourself being stuck there in the evening it's better and safer to stay in Cabarete town itself.
Cabarete is a very cool and happening tourist town right on a stunning bay, with some very good accommodation and great nightlife (Voy Voy, LAX, Bamboo's and Onno's).
There are a lot of quality beach side restaurants, plus much cheaper places to eat along the main roads. Two great bars start the evening off from around 10pm and then the clubs kick off around midnight until the early hours. Generally, Cabarete has a really friendly vibe and a sporty feel about the whole place.
Budget Accommodation at Swell Caribbean Surf camp