Pavel Prodan

The Best Surfing Spots In The Dominican Republic

Tropical paradise meets off-shore adventure.

There’s nothing quite like the Dominican Republic—it has it all, from multi-day hikes through the Dominican Alps to postcard-perfect sunsets on white sand beaches. Here you can find the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, at over 10,000 feet. The ‘Everest of the Caribbean,’ along with the Mona Passage, protects the island from some of the most powerful tropical storms, making this side of Hispaniola a year-round surf destination like Costa Rica and the Maldives.  

The best part about the Dominican Republic? It’s close to home. Distant beaches in Greece or Australia are always tempting, but imagine a surf vacation without the jet lag. Upon your arrival, you’ll be greeted with a welcoming surf culture and an ample coastline of clear blue waters for your off-shore adventures. While surfing in the Dominican Republic is a year-round affair for beginners, the best expert waves appear on the North Shore from January to March.  

Wherever and whenever you choose to surf, you’ll want a comfortable spot to put your feet up at the end of the day, and we share our favorite nearby accommodations. Here are the best surfing beaches and stays in the Dominican Republic.

Surfing The North Coast Of The Dominican Republic

Nicknamed ‘The Amber Coast’, the Dominican Republic’s north coast has the best surf spots in the country. The Atlantic winds and coral barriers make this stretch of shoreline worth a dedicated surf vacation. Stay here to experience a vibrant surf culture, along with modern resorts featuring a taste of Dominican life.

Surfboards-at-cabarete-dominican-republic
Yani Stoyanov

Cabarete

Wind and kite surfers love this long stretch of sand, particularly Kite Beach where the team at GoKite Cabarete offers lessons for beginners. For regular surfing, Manañero, Cabarete, and Sosúa Bay can be good spots when the conditions are right. Keep your eyes peeled for migrating whales between January and March. In between Cabarete and Sosúa Bay, you’ll find one of the best surfing spots in the Dominican Republic, Playa Encuentro, which deserves the next section all to itself.

Getting There: If you’re flying into Santo Domingo, you can reach Cabarete in under three hours by car. Alternatively, a few tourist bus companies including Caribe Tours and Metro ST Autobuses offer trips between Santo Domingo and Sosúa that take four to five hours.

Stay Here: Located directly on Cabarete beach, the ultra-modern Ultravioleta Boutique Residences offers spacious apartments, complete with fully equipped kitchens and private balconies.

Surfing-encuentro-beach
Lila Koan

Playa Encuentro

Surfing at Cabarete usually means surfing at Playa Encuentro, a gorgeous beach roughly four miles from the center of town. Most surf schools in Cabarete, including the Cabarete Surf Camp hold their surf lessons at Playa Encuentro, and for good reason. With year-round surfable waves, warm water, and different breaks catering to different skill levels, the only downside is how busy it gets. Advanced surfers can test their skills at the Destroyers reef break to the far west and the Coco Pipe to the far east. In between, the Encuentro Left from the middle reef is great for intermediate surfers, while the Main Break is one of the best waves in the country for beginner surfers.

Getting There: Take the public bus from Cabarete to Playa Encuentro, only a ten-minute ride.

Stay Here: Looking to soak up the surfing lifestyle at Encuentro Beach? Book a stay at one of the relaxed Beach Bungalows or Oceanfront Villas at the El Encuentro Surf Lodge.

Puerto-plata-waves
jvphoto.ca

Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata (officially San Felipe de Puerto Plata) sits on the coastline just under an hour west of Cabarete. The right hand reef break known as La Puntilla is the main surfing spot in the area, right outside the town. We prefer Cabarete for reliability and variety, but Puerto Plata also offers access to other family attractions like the cable car up Mount Isabel de Torres and Ocean World Adventure Park.

Getting There: Puerto Plata is around three hours from Santo Domingo by car. Or, take a connecting flight to Puerto Plata Airport, around twenty-eight minutes outside of town.

Stay Here: Enjoy balcony rooms with a view, the infinity pool, and relaxing spa facilities at the Casa Colonial Beach & Spa, only a minute’s walk to the waves. Be sure to grab a bite and a view of the jungle at Lucia Restaurant, specializing in Asian cuisine.  

Surfer-on-wave
Ian Mcdonnell

Playa Grande

The exposed reef break at Playa Grande provides consistent beginner waves throughout the year. You can learn from the experts at the Playa Grande Surf Shack hosted by the Playa Grande Beach Club and then take your new skills to nearby La Preciosa or Rio San Juan. Just off Playa Preciosa, you can ride the El Barco break past a sunken ship whose exact origins remain a murky mystery. If the conditions are too calm for surfing, consider getting some snorkeling gear and exploring the wreck for yourself.

Getting There: The DR-5 highway connects Playa Grande and Rio San Juan in a little over ten minutes.

Stay Here: Moments from the water, Amanera’s luxurious resort couldn’t be more convenient for visiting Playa Grande. And the golf course next door is a perfect break from the water.

Samaná Peninsula Surfing

Jutting out of northeastern Dominican, the secluded Samaná Peninsula’s thin strip of land is a palm-filled paradise. Known for its whales and eco-tourism, it’s also a great place to relax and catch some waves. The Pirata Surf School, based out of Las Terrenas, organizes surf trips to the best-surrounding beaches like Playa El Valle and Playa Bonita. Need a rest day? Playa Punta Popy’s clear, shallow waters and towering palm trees create a postcard-worthy backdrop to a day on the beach.

Las-terrenas-samana-surfers-dominican-republic
Pavel Prodan

Playa Bonita & Playa Cosón

Playa Bonita offers two notable break areas. The beach break serves up a large, rolling wave while the reef breaks are small and fast. If you’re a beginner, the surf instructors at Carolina Surf School can help you get a handle on both breaks. If the conditions aren’t cooperating at Bonita, try heading fifteen minutes southeast to Playa Cosón. It tends to be a bit more consistent, with larger waves for intermediate and advanced surfers.

Don’t leave the peninsula without heading further east and paying a visit to Playa Rincón, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. There are sometimes surfable waves at the northern end of the beach, but overall it’s best for snorkeling, sunbathing, and eating seafood by the shore.

Getting There: Playa Bonita is ten minutes from the center of Las Terrenas by car via the Mariano Vanderhorst Road. Playa Cosón is around ten minutes via the San Antonio/Turístico del Atlántico Boulevard.

Stay Here: Consider a stay in Las Terrenas at the all-inclusive Bahia Principe Grand El Portillo, only twenty-five minutes to Bonita and thirty to Cosón. Directly on the beach, this upscale stay offers five restaurants across the resort and evening entertainment.

Punta Cana Surfing

More experienced surfers will likely prefer the waves of Encuentro, but Punta Cana’s Playa Macao and Uvero Alto small waves allow beginners to find their feet. Need a break from surfing? Consider taking a day trip to Isla Saona, one of the best spots in the Dominican Republic for swimming with sea turtles.

Punta-cana-waves
Juvits

Playa Macao & Uvero Alto

Tucked further away from the hotel area, Playa Macao is a public beach mostly enjoyed by locals. This means despite its stunning beauty and good waves, it’s often fairly quiet unless there’s a Dominican holiday. Uvero Alto, on the other hand, is closer to resorts, so expect a crowd. Beginner surfers will love both beaches and the Punta Cana Adventure Surf School is on hand to help you level up your skills.

Getting There: Punta Cana is two-and-a-half hours in the car from Santa Domingo or a forty-five-minute flight into Punta Cana Airport. There are often shuttles from the airport to the beaches and nearby resorts.

Stay Here: Relax in the peak of luxury in an ocean-view swim-up suite at the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, just fifteen minutes south of Punta Cana. Adding on extensive dining options and direct access to Playa Juanillo at this adult-only, all-inclusive hotel is a no-brainer.

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