Best Caribbean Islands for Surfing

These five destinations deliver everything from beginner friendly swells to world-class waves

 

The travel brochures may feature calm turquoise waters, but make no mistake: there are coastlines in the Caribbean where the surfing is second to none. Whether you are an old-school long boarder, an aspiring rider or a big wave expert, there’s a wave waiting for you.

Puerto Rico

When winter swells roll in, breaks all along Puerto Rico’s north shore come to life, but it’s the island’s western end that lures most surfers to this U.S. Commonwealth. The towns of Isabela, Rincon and Aguadilla are surf central, home to a number of world championships, and famous breaks such as Crash Boat, Domes and Maria’s Beach. With dozens of world-class breaks, this area deserves it’s self-acclaimed title of “Surf Capital of the Caribbean,” but there’s also room for casual and novice riders, who can find support and instruction at a number of area shops and surf schools.

Rincon PR

Warm waters and long clean waves draw surfers from around the world to the shores of Rincon, on Puerto Rico’s northwestern coast. Favorite breaks include Antonio’s and Sandy Beach. Photo: iStock

Barbados

Barbados lures the world’s surfing elite to the challenging east-coast break known as Soup Bowl. But you don’t have to be a pro to surf this easternmost Caribbean island. The same long Atlantic swells that crash on the rugged eastern shore wrap around to create point and reef breaks on the island’s southern and western coasts. There’s a wave for everyone, from sponsored pros to first-time riders. Barbados is home to a number of surf shops and camps that can be tapped for local knowledge, lessons and rentals.

Barbados Bathsheba

On the east coast of Barbados, Bathsheba Beach is home to the famous surf break known as Soup Bowl. When the swell is up, this powerful wave is best left to the experts. Photo: Orietta Gaspari/iStock

Jamaica

Though better known as the home of Reggae and Rastafarians, Jamaica is gaining the respect of in-the-know surfers. Locals have been riding the north shore’s Boston Beach since the 1960s, and more recently brought attention to south shore breaks such as Zoo and Lighthouse. There are a number of novice to intermediate-friendly reef breaks around the island, along with a few point breaks that will earn bragging rights among experts. The most notorious is Makka, a long point break on the north shore, which delivers perfect tubes when conditions are right.

Jamaica Boston Bay

Boston Bay is generally regarded as the birthplace of Jamaica’s surfing culture. Though still relatively small, the island’s tradition of wave riding dates back to the early 1960s. Photo: iStock

Dominican Republic

With 300 miles of coastline exposed to North Atlantic swells, the Dominican Republic’s northern coast has more surf than surfers. Some breaks rarely see a rider, but more popular and pendulous areas such as Cabarete have developed a vibrant surf scene where visitors and locals mingle on waves that can range from comfortable long boarding to thrilling short boarding. There are several surf camps in the area, and most beachfront resorts cater to the watersports crowd, which can also include windsurfers and kite boarders. Less known are a number of breaks on the island’s south coast, which are still being discovered.

Dominican Republic

On the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, just west of the town of Cabarete, Encuentro Beach offers five distinct breaks, including one of the island’s best, known as La Derecha. Photo: iStock

British Virgin Islands

One of the Caribbean’s best point breaks isn’t a sure thing, but when the winter swells roll in, Tortola’s Cane Garden Bay delivers an extra-long, high- energy right that’s not for the faint of heart. For a somewhat mellower wave, head to Capoon’s Bay, where the infamous Bomba’s Surfside Shack overlooks a reef that breaks both left and right. Those just getting into the sport, or anyone looking for an relaxing ride, can hone their skills at the beach break at Josiah’s Bay. To really get away from it all, hop a ferry to the less-visited island of Anegada, where deserted beaches front a 28-mile barrier reef that offers an endless supply of unridden waves.

Tortola BVI

At Tortola’s Capoon’s Bay, the waves are as consistent and mellow as the vibes. This West End beach is also home to Bomba’s Shack, and the island’s infamous Full Moon Party. Photo: iStock

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