Surfing in Caberete
Surfing in Cabarete? But wait, isn’t Cabarete just for kiteboarding?
Actually, as well as top-notch wind, Cabarete also has world-class surf all year-round. But, I’ll forgive you for thinking that, just this once.
The small beach town of Cabarete on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic is the ideal place for watersports lovers. It boasts amazing wind and swell. You can even SUP in the morning on the glassy water before the wind picks up. Beautiful.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Cabarete watersports is the consistency of the conditions. Playa Encuentro gets upward of 350 surfable days a year, while Kite Beach gets perfect wind on over 300 days a year. No matter the season, you can be happy as Larry out on the water.
Your best bet is dawn patrol. Get there at sunrise, well before the crowds build around 9am. Encuentro is not suitable for SUPs or swimming, so stick to the surfboard.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more ideal place to learn to surf than Playa Encuentro, Cabarete.
The shallow waters inside the reef provide perfect conditions to learn to surf year-round. Even in the winter months, you’ll be safe from the biggest waves inside the beginners area.
There are loads of surf schools on the beach in Encuentro, and many a helping hand to get you on the board and having a great time. We partner with Pauhana, whose local, certified staff keeps you safe and teaches how to catch every wave!
It’ll cost you around $10-14 a day to rent a board, but you can haggle down to a lower price to rent for a week or two. We also offer package deals that include lessons and board rental.
Encuentro by Numbers
As you can see on the map above, Encuentro has a fair few different areas. You can be sure to find what you’re looking for with so much variety in the reef break.
Be sensible and err on the side of caution to stay safe. Don’t head straight for the black diamond breaks if you’re not totally confident in your abilities!
Encuentro is a very non-judgmental spot, so don’t be embarrassed to take it easy. We all start as beginners!
Temperatures are pretty consistent in Cabarete, and the water is always warm. Definitely no wetsuit needed!
A bigger concern here is taking care to top up your sunscreen every once in a while. Many opt for swimwear with shoulder coverage, or even sleeves, especially if you’re fair-skinned. You’ll even see the locals’ faces smeared with thick sunscreen paste or zinc oxide, a natural, ocean-friendly barrier to the sun’s rays. Take care of your skin, surfers.
Okay, lecture over.
Luckily for us in Cabarete, rainy season isn’t really a concern. Sure, it’s less likely to rain in the summer months, but the weather here can be unpredictable. Showers can happen at any time, and they’re usually short downpours which break into sunshine. In short, the rain in Cabarete won’t ruin your day.
You may have heard of hurricane season in the Caribbean. This is not really an issue in Cabarete because we are protected from most major storms by our mountain ranges, including the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte. Hurricanes avoid high and large land masses, so the storms tend to ‘bounce’ away from us.
Storms are usually only ever good news for surfers, as the northerly swells bring consistently strong waves that pack a punch!
When to come?
As I mentioned, Encuentro has great waves for beginners all year round. High season in Cabarete is December to around June, so the town is full of bustle. Very different vibe in low season, much more chill. Surfer’s choice!
If you’re an intermediate surfer looking to improve your skills, then the May to October reliable waves will be perfect for you.
The winter swell builds from November to January, and peaks from January to April. If you’re an expert surfer hunting massive overhead waves, then this is your time.
To Cabarete and beyond!
As well as carving up the waves at Encuentro, you can test out the waters in nearby El Canal, Mananero and Sosua Bay. These are all great quality surf spots, though less consistent than Encuentro. But, still, it can be fun to mix it up a little!
Mananero is best very early in the morning, as surf conditions go awry with any wind. A nice summer surf spot.
If you head east down the coast, you’ll find Rio San Juan, Playa Grande and Preciosa. All good spots if you like to adventure out of town a bit further. To refuel, there will usually be Dominican restaurants or informal ‘comedors’ around nearby serving tasty chicken, rice and beans.
Note that not everywhere will have board rentals, so be prepared if you want to wander outside town.
Surf culture is pretty prevalent in Cabarete. You’ll see a good few surf-themed shops and restaurants, while you’re here, so don’t miss out on this side of local culture. Check out our Lesson in Surf Slang article to prepare for that post-sesh surfer chat on the beach! You’ll be getting pitted in no time.