Surfing on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic can be an amazing experience as long you are at the right place at the right time. The North Coast has one of the most consistent surf beaches out of the entire country. Playa Encuentro. Playa Encuentro is the Surfing Mecca of the North Coast, where the majority of the surf schools are located but also the best waves. This is the Ultimate Surf Guide for the North Coast for the North Coast ENJOY!!
If you need a special team to document your Dominican Republic Surf Adventures we highly recommend the Biz-Dev Media Team. With a capacity to make a mini documentary and capture the best moments of your trip!
How to get a surfboard
– In the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata / Cabarete, there are many ways you can find a surfboard. There are many locals who are selling their surfboard for cheap prices (100-250 USD). Another Easy way to get a surfboard is to go to the main beach of Cabarete, Playa Encuentro and ask the schools if there are any surfboards for sale or rent.
Pauhana Surf School offers a great variety of surfboards for rent and for sale, it is also our favorite surf school in Playa Encuentro.
Where to get surf gear?
There is a few surf shops in the main town of Cabarete. There are 3 Surf-shops we recommend you to go and you will find exactly what you need. Surf fins, surf leashes, surf wax, board shorts/bikinis and last but not least Sun-screen!
We got our own small surf shop where you will find the essentials to enjoy a perfect surf trip or vacation in Cabarete.
How to know which board to choose?
Well, it all depends on what kind of skills and waves you are going to surf, the power of the wave and the style of board. If you are the kind of person who likes to just ride the wave till the end and are not able to do any tricks we would suggest you buy/rent a longboard or a fish.
When you buy a longboard you need to know that the board is made especially for small waves and you will need to take in consideration that you can’t take it out on a big day, unless you pursue the skills to ride it with ease.
Usually, a longboard will be more pricey than any other board because of its length and the volume of the different materials they used to make the board. If you are on a small budget we would suggest you to rent one instead of buying one, depending on how long you will stay in the country. Just because It won’t be easy traveling with a longboard on airports.
Fish surfboard: It is the type of surfboard to have the most fun on a small condition wave. You can do turns with a lot of ease and catch waves faster. They are usually flat on the bottom of the board, and they are also smaller than a longboard and the tail of the board is like a fish-tail.
It is the right type of board to use after you learn how to stand up on a longboard, it is the next step of learning before grabbing a normal shortboard. Some people like fish because of how easy they flow on the wave and how you can do turns and keep the wave with power. You Can use a fishtail also in bigger conditions than a longboard but also depends on the type of wave, for example:
If the wave is big but mushy, than sure, a longboard or a fish shouldn’t be a problem, but if the wave is steep we wouldn’t recommend you that, unless you are a knowledgeable surfer.
Encuentro has different seasons for different kinds of waves, of course, is not as accurate but you may be surprised by how good the waves can get down here.
Shortboards: *THE WHOLE SHABANG* is our favorite way to go surf. You can surf all kinds of waves in all types of conditions, you will mix the volumes and the length depending on size and power of the wave. You will for sure find one shortboard to rent in almost every school in Playa Encuentro, or let us know to help you find the best choice for you for the time you will be here.
In Cabarete we have a local shaper called, Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos is a venezuelan surfer/shaper who visited Cabarete more than 20 years ago. He was the first shaper in the north coast and also was kind enough to teach some of the locals in the area on how to shape as well. Currently he has his own brand called called Exodus Surfboards.
He can shape any type of board that you need from longboard, to fish surfboards and all kinds of shortboards that you may need.
The prices will depend on the size of the board that you need and their prices range from US$.800 if it’s a longboard to US$.400, if its a shortboard. He may charge extra if you want any type on a design on the board.
Playa Encuentro Surf Seasons
If you come in the summer it would be the perfect season to learn how to ride a wave properly and how to read the wave since the waves are pretty small and easy to ride. Also if you’d like to you can always learn how to kitesurf in the afternoon, because it is the best wind season of the year. Early June to mid-September.
But if you come in Winter, it is a whole different story down here. Winter is THE WAVE SEASON it is one of our favorite times of the year since we can surf almost every day with head high to double overhead type of waves 6 to 15 ft waves ”Face measurement”. It is very possible that there won’t be as much wind in winter which means you can surf all day! Before and after work.
So if you work online and love to surf come down here and shred the waves with us!
Where to Surf in the North Coast The North Coast has all types of surf breaks you can imagine from point breaks to outer reefs, beach breaks, we have it all. As I said before, Encuentro is the main beach to surf in Cabarete. It is a reef break and it’s best swell direction is North East. We like to check our wave forecast with windguru, since is one of the most accurate reports you will get from this area. It specifies the size of the wave, the direction of the swell, the wave period, and the wind speed.
Encuentro is divided by 5 different breaks:
The Right: The Right or ”La Derecha” will be the first break you will notice in Encuentro, it is a wave that breaks mainly as a right but it also has a short left you can take. This wave will vary depending on the swell direction. If the waves come from the east it with a little mix of the north it’s perfect as long the wave period is over 8-9 seconds.
One of the main rules of ”The Right” is that you must know how to at least stand-up and turn to take the wave. Also, if you are not very experienced a local surfer might tell you to go to Bobo’s Point.
Is a fun wave and you can surf it easily, you don’t have to be a PRO to surf it, anyone can do i,t just must know how to stand up properly on a surfboard. The right is also the most constant wave in the entire north shore, this being said it will always be the most crowded break in Encuentro. It constantly breaks chest high but if there is a BIG SWELL than it can hold up to 12-15ft face, the conditions must be perfect for you to ride it without a problem.
Bobo’s Point is named after one of Encuentro’s main local called Victor Peralta AKA Bobo. He has his surf school right in front of his break and it is specifically for first-timers since it is shallow and the instructor can push you on the white water for you to stand up.
There is usually fewer locals that could bother you, unless the waves are big. If the waves are big WATCH OUT! Because it is one of Encuentro’s fastest waves. If the swell is in at its best, which means north to northeast swell, Bobo’s Point turns into a highly advanced surf break. You will see Barrels after barrels and very fast-breaking waves. It is mainly a right but it has also a very nice left.
This wave has a lot of power that can break your surfboard in any second. Also, depending on the tide it can get very shallow so you will want to avoid falling down. Be aware of the unpredictable set waves because you don’t want to get caught by this wave on the inside. Other Than that if you surf Bobo’s point at its magical moments you will have an amazing experience!
It is known as Encuentro’s most Legendary Surf Break. When Cocopipe Gets the swell from the North, it is an outstanding wave, it may break very fast and it is a point break that breaks left and right, it has also a very sharp reef on the bottom, so be careful when surfing this wave. This wave also barrels very easy at the beginning of the wave and at the end, it all depends on the tide condition.
One of the uniqueness of Cocopipe is also one of the strongest waves in the north coast, it has a lot of power and if you get caught by the set it will take you all the way down to shore and you will have to swim between Bobo’s and Cocopipe which is at the right end of the beach.
‘’The Left’’ as its name says, is one of the best left waves of the entire beach. For it to break properly the swell has to be from the north but it may also break on very rare occasions if it comes from the east. This point break is divided into 3 parts, you can surf the inside of the wave which you can ride it all the way to shore but it will be a short ride.
”We recommend you to surf the inside at the beginning to get the hang of it since it’s a fast left and with a very nice wall.”
Then you have the main point of the left which it breaks on a very shallow reef break and when it has size you can get some barrels at the drop if you know how to find it. This is the Goofy footer’s favorite wave since you can practice all kinds of turns and air maneuvers because of all the power it has. It will have a nice ramp to jump in, just gotta be aware of how shallow it is.
PS* There might be localism on this breakpoint so be friendly and respect the locals”
And the 3rd break of ‘’The Left’’ it’s called ‘’ El Hoyo’’ which means The Hole, since is the shallowest wave, it has 1-2 feet deep and is only recommended for the advanced surfer or bodyboarders because you can get hurt with the reef if you fall down.
This wave breaks very fast and is the steepest one out of all the waves in Encuentro, you must pull in or just go down and do the drop. Once the wave is over, you will want to swim to your right because you don’t want to get caught inside when the next wave comes through… since you have no space to Duckdive on it.
You shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the name of this break, It is a left that breaks on the other side of the beach but it is still an Encuentro surf break. It is very shallow and powerful. It is the one wave that people don’t even look at even when if ”Firing”, this wave is usually breaking and there is rarely people surfing on it. Maybe because it is too far to the left or just because of its name.
Other Surf Spots in the North Coast
The North Coast is blessed with waves for more than 200 km long Starting from Puerto Plata Province all the way to Samaná.
Puerto Plata Is the Main province that has many different towns such as Cabarete and Sosua.
The main surf spot in Puerto Plata is called La Puntilla.
La Puntilla: La Puntilla it’s a unique surf spot that not many people surf on it except for the people who already live in Puerto Plata City. It is mainly a left break and it has a big channel that you can swim out without getting caught by any waves, and it also has a short right-hand wave. This surf spot has one of the best scenery since you can see Loma Isabel de Torres from the peak. It is the most important mountain out of Puerto Plata because of its history and because of the Tourism traffic that brings to the province.
La Puntilla Has a neighbor surf break called ‘’Pipeline’’ Just like the Hawaiian surf spot because is the only wave in the Dominican Republic that can hold any wave size.
This wave usually breaks if there is a Hurricane nearby, that brings giant swells to the North Coast.
There have been occasions that ”The Dominican Pipeline” Breaks over 20-25 ft face.
It is a far paddle to get to the peak, and you must use a ‘’Gun Surfboard’’ Which means a surfboard that is at least 7ft+ and made for surfing big waves.
You also have to be Prepared Physically and mentally, because if anything goes wrong you must know how to control the Situation. Even if you’re not able to surf these kinds of waves it’s always fun to take a look at the locals charging Giants in the North Coast and support the Locals.
Sosua Bay is a public beach of the North Coast known for its restaurants and all the markets that are down there, no one thinks they can surf there until a big swell from the North arrives. Sosua Bay has changed a lot in the past couple of years.
Before it used to be 1 powerful left on a reef far back, but recently a big storm came and it brought up so much sand that it formed a perfect beach break on the right side of the beach. It breaks by hitting the side of the bay which is a rock, and then it forms a very nice wall, all the way to shore.
This surf break also has a very nice view all over. Sosua Bay is Special too because you can surf all day, have a snack or a beer and go back out because the wind is always offshore. The wind gets blocked by 2 big cliff rocks, while other places are blown out. So you can Surf at Encuentro in the morning and Sosua Bay in the afternoon when there is a big north swell.
Kite Beach Reef: If you are the type of person that would do ANYTHING to surf Alone, then this is your place because not everyone goes here, it is sketchy to go since its a 300m+ paddle and there is a very sharp reef, though people come here most likely to go Stand up Paddle Boarding since you can get out there faster and local surfers can’t kick you out.
In the afternoon this becomes the kiteboarder’s strapless paradise.
Is the most famous beach break in Cabarete since it has amazing barrels more often than any other wave here. It only breaks if the swell is from the east and you must go early as the name says because with a little wind the wave can get bad quick. You also want to time the Tide because you would prefer to surf it as in low tide and picking up or in mind tide and going down. Tide in Cabarete usually changes every 6 hours.
Is a unique surf spot in the North Coast located in Rio San Juan, it is one of the North Coast’s hidden gems, just a few locals know how to get there. This point breaks with big North & North East swells and if the conditions are right you can get ”drainy barrels”. Surfing in la pasa will make you feel like you are in on of Indonesian outer reefs, you can gather a group of friends and pay US$80 to get a boat that will take you to the channel of the wave, very convenient since you can snack and regather energy from the boat.
Playa Grande in english *Long Beach* it is known for its beautiful view and is located in the province of Maria Trinidad Sanchez which is located 60km to the East of Cabarete. Playa Grande is a very powerfull beach break and there is not many people surfing there other than the locals, and there aren’t many locals either. It breaks mostly with northswells.
Once you go to Playa Grande even if you’re not lucky and don’t find any waves, you will feel blessed just by going there and enjoying the view and eating fresh local fish or lobster its lobster season.
A perfect place to go on a Sunday with the family or friends and enjoy a fun day at the beach.
Preciosa, means Precious in english, and it is exactly like that, it is a precious beach with an amazing left and right wave that breaks all the way out. It breaks close to a 60ft cliff and when the swell comes from the north, you can get the surf session of your lifetime.
You will enjoy an amazing view from the peak and very possible you can have a solo surf sesh with your friends. La Preciosa is also famous because is one of the waves of the north shore that can break with big swells and still have a perfect form. This surfbreak has a neighbor wave called El Barco, which name comes because the wave breaks right next to a sunken ship. If your lucky you may find some gold…
El Barco as I said in the last paragraph, is the neighbor wave of La Preciosa, and it breaks next to a sunken ship. It is mostly a Right hander but it has also a very nice left with a steep wall. The wave breaks in front of some big rocks, but don’t worry about it since you won’t be any close to them. Here you will have lots of fun and you can probably surf it all day if there is a big swell from the north east. You will want to surf this wave in low tide so you can surf it at its full potential, then go eat and surf for the sunset session to end the day the right way.
Orchid Bay: Orchid Bay, is located in Cabrera which is 20 minutes after Playa Preciosa. It is located in a Gated Community though there is an entrance on the left side of the road where you can go in, as a visitor. Orchid bay is a point break with a left and a right hander, we wouldn’t recommend you go left unless you are intermediate or expert level since it can get very shallow. The right hander is a perfect long right hander with very clear water and a very colorful reef, and it barrels as soon as you drop in the wave. When going in surf trips this is one of our favorite waves to visit!
This is one of the North Coast strongest beachbreak, located on the far north-east of the Island. This wave is located in Nagua, the main town of Maria Trinidad Sanchez Province. is a high-skill level wave with lots of speed and power. This wave breaks left and rights and is quite protected by the winds.
The beaches around here are called palmtree’s paradise, on the way there you will be blessed by its incredible surroundings.
The locals around here are mostly bodyboarders and just a few surfers might go there on the weekend.
Cayenas is a neighbor wave of ”El Broke” it is also a beachbreak with lots of speed and power but not as much as ”El Broke”. This wave is more user-friendly and you can slowly get the hang of it once you surf it for a while. Perfect spot to stay in the beach all day long, being covered by the shadow of the palmtrees.
This being said if you’re going to Cayenas or Las Terrenas be prepared for anything, bring plenty of water, some snacks, surf wax, surfboards towelss and maybe a camping set up if waves are super good.
Coson, one of the main surfbreaks in Las Terrenas. This is the main beach break with power sometimes barrels and is a fun wave overall. Quite protected from the wind. and is a sand buttom. Las Terrenas is located in the province of Samaná. Samaná, is the closest thing to ”day dreaming” kinda feeling. Is just one of the most beautiful places this Island has to offer. There is so many great things about this provice that I might never end talking about it. Highly suggested visiting Samaná Mid January- end of March, because it is the one special season you will want to experience.
It’s the Whale Season!
As the name says it, (pretty beach) it is one stunning surf spot surrounded by palm trees and clear water all around. Playa Bonita is located in the Peninsula of Samaná. This might be the easiest place to learn how to surf in the north coast, easy wave to manage, most of the time breaks waist to chest high, not much power and is a sand bottom. If you’d like to have the best experience in learning, Carolina Surf School is the place to go. Managed by Carolina Gutierrez a female surf legend in the Dominican Republic. We promise you that if you ever get to visit, you will be in good hands!!
Fred Is DEAD
This wave has an intriguing name indeed. Named after a funny story that happened more than 12 years ago. A group of french surfers were vissiting Samaná and found this perfect A-Frame wave looking over the top of a hill. They all go Excited to surf this unknown wave and after a few hours, a guy named Fred paddles to a big set wave and crashes. After the wipe out his friends didnt’ find him, everyone started freaking out and screaming, ”FRED IS DEAD, FRED IS DEAD!! Fred luckily didn’t die, just had water up on his nose and got out… Since then, the name ”Fred is Dead” took place of this surf spot.
This wave has been surfed just by a few surfers and it’s location is quite unknown unless you find a Dominican Surfer or a Surf Guide.
This reef-break has left and rights with an easy wall to be surfed. You can surf this wave preety much in any kind of board since the drop is not that steep. This wave can hold up to 15-18 ft face waves. If you’re a photographer you will be taking pictures from a hill.El Valle
Anyone who has the bliss to surf this magical surf spot, will mark an unforgettable experience in their lives. El Valle is one of the best places to disconnect from the media and feel the closest to mother nature. A perfect place to go camping, build a bonfire and enjoy the limitless night sky, full of stars while listening to the relaxing sound of waves crashing.
If you ever get invited to El Valle, JUST GO!
Yes, there are many secret spots that maybe 1 or 2 guys know how to get there, this being said,if you want to have a delightful private surf session we highly recommend The Search DR. Perfect to bring your surfing crew and share perfect waves all day long.
We hope that this guide has been of help for you traveleres who were thinking on visiting this beautiful island and had curiosity about the surfing. Stay tuned for the Ultimate Surf Guide for the South Coast!
Special thanks for everyone who Collaborated with the photos to make this Ultimate Surf Guide possible!
Photographers: The Search DR, Daniel Stockdale, Kaiser Photography, Hedwin de Los Santos, Alejandro Gonzales, Zuzana Sikurova, Wolf Photographe, Margy Rijo, Andreita Hernandez, Joe Cardona.
Surfers: Rafael Antonio Gonzales AKA Kooky, Zion Balbuena, Roberto.Pereyra, Leandro Castillo, Arturo Pereyra, Max Self, Manny Gomez, Jose Luis Aquino, Braian Padilla, Carolina Gutierrez, Saori Perez & Margy Rijo.
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