The Caribbean’s best surfing spots
Everyone knows that the Caribbean has some of the world’s best beaches but, with 4,000 miles of uninterrupted run-up across the ocean, its waves are also superb and its winds constant. November to May is your best chance to ride the trade winds and carve Atlantic waves so, to give you a head start, here’s our guide to the five best surf spots in the Caribbean
Take off to Barbados
In Barbados, the farther south and east you go, the livelier the sea. From Silver Sands at the southern point, where sun-baked beach groupies lounge on the sand and whistle across the water under their kites, you pass the hidden coves of the southeast, whose surreal turquoise sea kicks up perfectly for body boarding. You eventually come to the Atlantic coast, where the waves barrel off the ocean and break in thunderous rolls – just the ticket for full-on surfing. Bathsheba is the best-known spot: a windswept beach where house-sized stacks of coral rock stand marooned on the sand. Stop by Dina’s Bar to check out the conditions and then head out into the Soup Bowl, a right break that builds to a glassy green wall and dissolves into the foamy surf from which it takes its name.
Puerto Rico, part of the USA for a century, mingles salsa music with the Stars and Stripes, Latino swagger with love rock and kioskos with KFC. Some of the Caribbean’s best surf rolls in on to the island’s northwestern corner. Isabela is low key – Jobos beach is lined with bars and restaurants and the rich blue waves are passable, but at Middles they are big enough to hold pro competitions, so for advanced surfers only. Aguadilla has sweeps of sand with waves for all, including the delightfully named Crash Boat beach, whose right-hand break gathers green over a submerged reef. And at Rincon you can carve and chase a left break suitable for all levels at Sandy Beach, or step up to the thunderous Tres Palmas, site of the Caribbean’s most famous big wave, which arrives when the swell is up. Puerto Rico is great for beginners, too, however, as it has good options for learning to surf, with a great variety of levels and courses to perfect your skill.
Take off to Trinidad
Trinidad is best known for its city life and culture in Port of Spain: its steel bands, calypso singing and, of course, carnival, the week-long bacchanal in the streets. But once the dancing is done, where should you go to relax? Many head north to Maracas Bay, with its slender palms and ‘shark and bake’ (seasoned shark meat in a flatbread bun), but the most determined ‘limers’ (it’s a Caribbean word for chilling out) join the surfers and head for the northeast, to Blanchisseuse and Grande Riviere, set in coves scalloped out of the distant reaches of the northern range. With weather from the north, swell rises off the Atlantic deep and culminates in clean breaks where you can carve a turn and scream along the face of the wave. Grande Riviere has a clutch of the island’s coolest, offbeat places to stay offering all you need: a hammock with a view.
Take off to St Lucia
In days of yore, the Caribbean trade winds brought merchants and ships of the line reliably across the ocean. Now their uninterrupted approach over the Atlantic delivers the finest and most consistent winds to windsurfers and kitesurfers alike. In the south of St Lucia, the favoured spot is Anse de Sables, a broad, sand-rimmed bay enclosed by a reef, with a cool vibe. Watch for a while at the Reef Café (instruction sand kit rental available), and then surge off on the clean cross-shore winds. When chop makes it into the bay, strongest in March to May, there is enough bump to make some jumps. If you would like to stay closer to the beach action and bars in the north of the island, then there’s a second option at Cas en Bas, a deep broad bay with constant onshore winds and waves that break on an offshore reef.
Take off to the Dominican Republic
Cabarete is the coolest town on the north coast of Dominican Republic, set on a hook in 100 miles of continuous sand. The crescent beach is lined with cafés and bars, tables and chairs all set looking out to sea, where the cerulean sky is criss-crossed with fluorescent kites scooting back and forth. Close to, Cabarete’s cross-shore winds are good for beginners, but on the high seas the wind and thermals are strong enough for international competitions, with waves to jump and carry you up and away. Winds strengthen across the day and calm off in the afternoon, just in time to head back to your chair for the sunset and Cabarete’s other speciality – lively evening action.
Surf, sleep, repeat
Where to stay on your surfing trip
Jade Mountain, St Lucia
You can’t move for gorgeous skylines and stunning vistas in St Lucia, so seeking a room with a view won’t help narrow your accommodation options. Luckily, one stands out from the crowd. Jade Mountain, on the western cost of St Lucia, is the only resort sporting views of the World Heritage Site Piti and Gros Piton mountains: towering green volcanos whose luscious vegetation puts Pixar to shame. If that’s not reason enough for a visit, the hotel’s new in-suite dining experience, ‘Six in Your Sanctuary’, should be. For $300 per person, you can enjoy a six-course gourmet dinner prepared by the resort’s executive chef, served by a private butler and accompanied by acoustic guitar (should you so wish). Enjoy such delicacies as pink peppercorn spiced scallops and grilled filet mignon alongside meticulous wine pairings, before falling into a welcome food coma, accompanied by a truly unbeatable view.
The Coral Reef Club, Barbados
British Airways reopened its direct route from London Heathrow to Bridgetown, Barbados, this year, meaning you can now get to sun and surf even faster. But just as important as finding the right waves to ride is having the perfect spot in which to relax and unwind after a hard day on the ocean. Enter the Coral Reef Club, a family-run five-star luxury resort just 30 minutes from the airport and the same again from Bathsheba. Retire in one of the hotel’s plush private suites or cottages (be sure to splash out on a Superior Suite so you can enjoy a soak in its generous bathtub), and make time to experience a Caribbean Calm massage at the onsite spa that’ll drain all the tension bought on by the day’s exertions. Fancy heading out in the evening? Enjoy a drink at the hotel’s open-air bar before taking a wander down the coast to historic Holetown, just a 15-minute walk from the hotel and offering an array of local nightlife.