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powerful waves on the sea with palm tress caught in the wind

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


01/11/2020

Soup Bowl in Bathsheba, on the Atlantic east coast of Barbados, is regarded as one of the most picturesque surf spots in the world (Adobe Stock)

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.

Take off to Barbados

Surfing a premium big wave at Tres Palmas, Puerto Rico (Adobe Stock)

Puerto Rico

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.


Waves reach an average of a metre at Maracas Bay in Trinidad (Adobe Stock)

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 Trinidad

Anse de Sables beach in Vieux Fort, near the southernmost point of St Lucia, is also a premier windsurfing location (Getty Images)

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 St Lucia

Kiteboarders at Kite beach in Cabarete, Dominican Republic (Adobe Stock)

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.

Take off to the Dominican Republic

Surf, sleep, repeat

Where to stay on your surfing trip