Surfing in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Learn more about the breaks, schools and right of way rules
Cabarete is widely known as a wind-lovers paradise because of the seemingly endless wind. But did you know that surfing in Cabarete is just as popular? Thanks to a consistent Atlantic swell, the north shore of the Dominican Republic is blessed with waves 350 days a year (mas o menos), attracting surfers from all around the world.
Located about 10 minutes west of our condos is Playa Encuentro, Cabarete’s main surf beach. Encuentro has several breaks suitable for kids, beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers. There is a nice batch of qualified surf schools that offer private lessons and board rental. Generally speaking, the waves are best from October through April. Coincidentally, the exact time frame that a large section of the world wants to escape the rain, cold, and misery of winter. So, here’s your cue: Ditch your wetsuit, slather on some sunscreen, and get ready to surf in Cabarete!
A Little History Lesson:
Cabarete was made popular to tourists by a Canadian windsurfer in the 1980s. Jean Laporte was literally blown away by the trade winds that, like clockwork, hit the town of Cabarete every afternoon. He wrote several articles for Voire Libre magazine about this sleepy fishing village turned windsurfing mecca and subsequently Cabarete went on to host the Professional Windsurfing World Championships throughout the 80s and 90s. All of this hubbub brought thousands of athletes to the north coast of the Dominican Republic, and so the area began to transform.
Aside from the wind, Cabarete is an ideal location for watersports because of the warm water, gentle currents, and lack of dangerous aquatic animals. Once the word spread and the conditions were explored further, the surfers caught wind and some time in the late 1990s they started rollin’ in. Localism in some of the granddaddy surf destinations of Hawaii and California in the 80s and 90s made it impossible for visitors to even paddle out unless they were willing to put up a fight. So, the plethora of empty reef breaks with perfectly peeling waves scattered along the shores of Cabarete were quite a commodity at the time.
Thankfully, the Cabarete surf vibe has always been very tranquilo. The locals are known to be respectful and helpful to visitors – so long as they follow the rules of the waves. Since we would like to make sure everyone has a good time out there, we we’ll do you a favor and explain the universal surfing rules below:
Which Break Is Best for My Level?
Use this handy dandy infograph to figure it out. It’s pretty intuitive, so we aren’t going to take too much time explaining it. Feel free to download by clicking the photo and hitting “save as” for a closer look.
Rules of the Waves:
Ask the local surfers or owners of surf schools which break is best for your ability. Playa Encuentro has several reef breaks and designated areas for kids, beginners, intermediate, and advanced surfers. If you are surfing a foam top long board, don’t get in the way of the advanced short boarders shredding overhead waves. You’ll get hurt, they’ll get mad. So don’t be afraid to ask and make some friends in the meanwhile.
Don’t Drop In
If someone is already riding a wave or they are at the peak of the wave do not, and we repeat, DO NOT drop into their wave. This is the biggest surfing faux pas! One that will quickly land you a bad reputation, or even worse, a board to the face! If you are sure it is your wave feel free to communicate with your fellow surfers by yelling “voy” which means, “I’m going” in Spanish.
Respect the Locals
This is their break, so be friendly and courteous. There is nothing worse than a tourist busting up in the beach like they own the place. Not to mention, it’s not a great way to make friends. See Rule #1.
Wait Your Turn
They call it a line up for a reason. Try not to budge, even when you see others snaking a wave out of turn. It’s bound to happen because there is always that one. But you don’t want to be that guy, right? If you are unsure of what’s going on out there, See Rule #1 and ask surfers coming out of the water after just finishing a session. A quick, “Hey, how’s the crowd?” or, “Bro, did you get plenty of waves?” or even, “Is there much room out there?” will give you a feel for the vibe and how to approach the line up before you even get into the water.
Not a Rule but Rather a Tip
The best time to go surfing is generally around sunrise. It just so happens that one of the most magical things you can do while on holiday is to watch the sunrise while floating on your surfboard. So wake up with the sun and hang ten.
*If you need advice or help getting in contact with a school, just let our guest services know and they will be more than happy to either take the reigns and book everything for you, or send you in the right direction if you prefer to do it on your own.
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