SPOTLIGHT: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

visit DR

Smack-bang in the middle of the Caribbean sea and the Atlantic ocean, sits one of the largest, most interesting (historically), stunningly beautiful and culturally diverse islands of the entire region; the Dominican Republic.

Anyone planning a trip to the Caribbean should put this place firmly on their shortlist and this article will list the many reasons why you should visit the Dominican Republic.

It doesn’t matter if you are a young student back-packing, a family with kids, a couple on a romantic break, a golfer, a surfer, or someone who loves to hike, this stunning island should be on your radar.

Pristine beaches and turquoise water are the obvious draw to this Caribbean island, but let’s examine all the other activities; relaxing, cultural and sporting, that you can enjoy on a Dominican Republic holiday.

HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Given the Dominican Republic’s rich history (conquered by the Spanish in the 1500’s, with various ‘intrusions’ along the centuries), it makes sense that this island enjoys some fantastic architecture and important historical buildings in various towns and cities. We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic in sections, beginning with culture. We have also listed the top sporty things to do whilst in the Dominican Republic, the top natural wonders to see and lastly the top recreational things to do.

Given the Dominican Republic’s rich history (conquered by the Spanish in the 1500’s, with various ‘intrusions’ along the centuries), it makes sense that this island enjoys some fantastic architecture and important historical buildings in various towns and cities. We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic in sections, beginning with culture. We have also listed the top sporty things to do whilst in the Dominican Republic, the top natural wonders to see and lastly the top recreational things to do.

Our top cultural things to do in the Dominican Republic would be:

UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Zona Colonial in the capital, Santo Domingo. This is where Christopher Columbus arrived in the 15th century, where he lived for long periods and where at least some of his bones were finally buried.

Notable and culturally significant buildings and places in this UNESCO site are:

Parque Colón

In the centre of this lively square sits the majestic statue of Christopher Columbus. The square is often host to musicians and street performers. On the South side of the square is the first cathedral ever to have been built in the Americas; Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor (built in the early 1500’s), also known on tourist maps as Catedral Primada de America. This cathedral is still open and a place of worship. It houses a painting of the Virgin Mary dating back to 1520.

The National Pantheon of the Dominican Republic

Whilst it was originally built as a church, this beautiful building was designated by Trujillo in 1956 as a mausoleum to honor the most significant people of the Dominican Republic. How ironic that should now house the men who assassinated Trujillo, including national hero Antonio Imbert, who put paid to his dreadful and murderous dictatorship. Marble tombs line the walls of the mausoleum and all sit beneath a beautifully painted ceiling from where hangs a magnificent chandelier.

Plaza España

This huge open square, close to the River Ozama, is lined with restaurants and places to sit and watch the world go by. Many guided walking tours leave from this spot. The charming Chu Chu Colonial sight seeing trolley train also goes from this spot. On the other side of the square to the restaurants sits:

Alcazar de Colón

This is now a museum, but was the former home of Christopher Columbus and his family. The museum houses an important collection of European late Medieval and Renaissance art. The tapestries housed in this building, are said to be some of the most important in the world.

Museo de las Casas Reales

Also sited on the South side of the Plaza España, this was the former government offices building, again contemporary to the 1500’s when Spain ordered its construction. Now it’s a museum which houses colonial furniture, a collection of weapons and most importantly, artefacts of the Tanio people, who were the original inhabitants of the island, most of whom were either killed by the Spanish or died from subsequent diseases their western conquerors brought with them. Whilst exhibits are detailed in Spanish, headphones with translations are available and included with your admittance fee.

The Monasterio de San Fransisco

was the first monastery to be built in the new world and was constructed in 1508. Now in ruins, the monastery has had its share of disasters, having been hit by a hurricane 500 years ago, which virtually destroyed it. Rebuilt in 1556, it was then sacked by Sir Francis Drake in 1586. These beautiful ruins are still used for cultural and social events.

Calle El Conde

This charming pedestrianised street spans between the River Ozama, Parque Colón and Plaza Independencia and is lined with nice places to eat alfresco, with a distinctly European feel.

Once you have taken in all the culture you can handle, head to the shopping district of La Atarazana.

Culture in other regions:

The Amber Museums

Because of the importance of amber in the Dominican Republic, there are 3 amber museums on the island. Amber is a resin from an extinct tree called the Hymenaea Protera. Some amber stones in the Dominican Republic have been dated back 40 million years! In the museums, the well presented, back-lit stones reveal the fossilised remains of insects and plants. If you are in the Dominican Republic, do make sure to visit one of the following amber museums. We suggest that if you are on the North Coast, you visit the Museo Del Amber in Puerto Plata. Whilst in the capital, then its the Amber World Museum in Calle Arzobispo Meriño, 452. If you are over in Casa de Campo, then there is a smaller Amber World Museum in Altos de Chavon. You’ll be able to buy your own amber keepsakes from the gift shops attached.

The Puerto Plata Region

San Felipe de Puerto Plata is situated on the fun, sporty North coast of the island. Puerto Plata (translated from Spanish means silver port) originates from 1494 and was formerly known as La Isabela. The mountain which overlooks it, is called Isabela de Torres. The town is now full of mainly Victorian era buildings and is a charming day’s walk around.

The fort of San Felipe dates back to the 16th century. The fort itself has a sordid history, being linked to the beginning of the English slave-trade under John Hawkins in 1563. It was also a prison under Trujillo’s brutal dictatorship. Now it’s a museum and sits on the edge of the pretty port area on the edge of the town. The port itself if still the busy hub handling locally produced coffee, sugar cane, bananas for export and much more.

The Brugal Rum Factory

brugal puerto plata

Dominican rum is famous the world over and the quality of its rum is unrivalled.

There are many rum makers all over the island, but at the Brugal factory, in Puerto Plata, you can at least see the rum making process, taste some, and learn about how the various qualities of rum are produced.

It’s well worth an afternoon or morning tour.

The Amber Museum We’ve touched before on the Museo de Amber located in Puerto Plata; it’s well worth a visit.

Isabel de Torres

isabel de torres puerto plata

The mountain which overlooks the city of Puerto Plata.

Breathtaking views can be enjoyed from the top, which is reached by a long hike (not for the feint-hearted) or by the only cable car in the Caribbean.

Arriving at the top, you will be delighted by the botanical gardens.

Go up early in the morning for the best views.

Top Natural Wonders of the Dominican Republic

Given that this large island has so many mountains interspersed with rivers (it has the highest mountain in the entire Caribbean region), there are some truly remarkable natural wonders to visit. We’ve listed the top 10 adventures for you below.

The 27 waterfalls of Damajagua (also known as the 27 Charcos)

27 waterfalls dominican republicIt’s hard to argue with most visitors describing this trip as the BEST thing they did on their vacation to the Dominican Republic. These intricate canyons and waterfalls were formed by water cascading down the mountainous region behind the city of Puerto Plata for millions of years. Formerly run with some dubious safety procedures, the intervention of JFK’s great-nephew (of all people) lead to grants being provided to seriously upgrade and improve all safety aspects of this amazing adventure. You can choose to climb all 27 falls or stop at 12. Note though that some of the jeep safaris from the all-inclusive hotels will only take you to the 7th waterfall, so if you are fit and up for a challenging and spectacular adventure, get yourself to the visitor centre independently and take a guide up with you.

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INFOGRAPHIC : CABARETE

VISIT CABARETE

Here’s a visual with 7 reasons to put Cabarete on the top of your vacation destinations for 2018 (or 2019)

visit cabarete

We hope to see you soon in Cabarete.
Swell offers:

VISIT CABARETE FOR A SURF HOLIDAY

Have a look at the package we offer at Swell. Have any questions? Have a look at the Swell Surf Holiday FAQ page or send us a message and we’ll get back to you in no time.

ABOUT SWELL SURF CAMP

After living in the Dominican Republic for 8 years and loving the great outdoor watersport lifestyle, Jeroen (from the Netherlands) and Clare (for the UK) decided it was time to share their knowledge of the Dominican Republic all that this stunning Caribbean island  has to offer with visitors from all over the world.

The owners were already familiar with surf camps and surf resorts  in many different countries and having had to stay in some very ordinary surf hotel accommodation in their quest for great surfing waves, they knew that there was something missing in the surf camp market; a place which was still social, but offering better quality accommodation, great food, nicer beds, cleaner rooms: A stylish, luxury surf hotel. They set about designing the kind of place they would want to stay in themselves.

So they hired a renowned Swiss architect for one purpose: to come up with the world’s first purpose-built, luxury surf camp & resort.

Since opening in winter 2009/2010 Swell surf instructors have taught 1000’s of people how to surf in a safe, fun and structured manner. Since opening, Swell has won multiple awards and has 100’s of excellent reviews from happy guests. Swell continues to be one of the top destinations for couples, groups and solo travellers to go to as the #1 luxury surf holiday.

It’s not just learning to surf on offer at Swell; You can learn to kiteboard, take a  yoga class, go horse riding on the beach or in the mountains and enjoy some truly spectacular outdoor adventure trips like canyoning for example.

Swell offers package surf holidays that take all the hassle out of the planning, with airport transfers, transport to the beach and much more, so all Swell guests can enjoy a stress free holiday right from the start. You just have to book your flights, and they will take care of the rest!

With great food being such an important part of anyone’s surf vacation, Swell delivers there too; with superb home cooked food at the camp and on the evenings when guests go out to dinner, a large choice of restaurants offering a comprehensive choice of dining are all within a few minutes walk.

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CABARETE: ADVENTURE IN THE CARIBBEAN

swell surf camp locationmap isometric

9 Reasons why Cabarete is the ultimate water sport destination in Central America / Caribbean.

SUP cabarete

There are so many places in the world where you can lie on a sun-soaked beach and do absolutely nothing (if that’s your thing), but where do you go if you want an action-packed, adult sports holiday with a variety of different watersports or land-based sports to choose from, or if you are looking for an adult surf camp?

Cabarete, on the North coast of the Dominican Republic, is your answer: Easy to get to (with direct flights from Europe and North America) and a quick transfer from Puerto Plata (POP) international airport, Cabarete has a huge variety of sporty activities on offer, both water-based and land-based.

WHY CABARETE FOR AN ACTIVE ACTION PACKED VACATION?

  • Easy, quick travel time: Puerto Plata (POP) international airport is just 25 minutes drive to the centre of Cabarete. (Have a look at this page on how to get to the Dominican Republic)
  • It’s safe in the Dominican Republic: Friendly and welcoming locals will offer you their hearts for visiting their beautiful island. Tourist Police are on hand in all popular areas to help keep you safe.
  • So much to do: Unlike Costa Rica where getting around involves some lengthy journeys, Cabarete is reached after a quick journey from North America so the same day as you leave home, you’ll be on beautiful beaches for a great surf vacation. Cabarete itself offers so much to do, all within a very small area; you won’t waste whole days travelling around to see and experience some really diverse scenery. Surfing beaches, kitesurfing, windsurfing, canyoning, horse riding, history, culture and so much more, are all within a few miles of each other.
  • Fantastic dining choices: Because of the cosmopolitan nature of Cabarete, it is absolutely packed with restaurants with all different cuisines on offer. You can choose from traditional Dominican restaurants, Sushi, stone-baked pizzas made by Italians, Mexican restaurants, lobster and fresh fish on the beach, stylish French Bistros, high-end, ocean-side romantic meals and simple street food. Vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian choices are all on offer. It’s impossible to go hungry in Cabarete! ( have a look at the restaruants in Cabarete)
  • Great Nightlife: Once the beachside dining is over, tables and chairs are put away and Cabarete beach becomes the ultimate party venue. You can dance beneath the palm trees with your bare feet in the sand. Taking part in the party is not mandatory of course; with a short walk, you can make your way back to a surf camp like Swell for a more peaceful end to the day.
  • Culture; The Dominican Republic is one of the islands discovered by Christopher Columbus in the late 1400’s. Close to Cabarete is the historic town of Puerto Plata, with its ancient fort dating from 1564 and built by King Felipe II of Spain. The town has many old and restored timber buildings, reminiscent of those you might see in old Havana, for example.
  • Music: To the Dominican people, music is not just a hobby, it’s a way of life. There are so many music festivals throughout the year that there will normally be something going on during your visit. Cabarete hosts part of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival (opens a new window)  each November (in 2018, it’s November 3rd and 4th). Merengue, Bachata, Salves and Palo are all traditional Dominican music genres, but you’ll also hear Reggaeton, Jazz, Rock and Hip Hop. Dancing is as popular as the music danced to and there are many places in Cabarete where you can take dance lessons from the most natural movers on the planet.
  • Beautiful Beaches: Light sandy beaches and turquoise water abound. You can set off to find your own deserted cove between Cabarete bay and Encuentro, or stick to one of the more expansive sandy bays. Visit places like Playa Grande for the day for a fish BBQ on the beach.
  • It offers good value: On average surf camps in Costa Rica are 50-70% more expensive than similar surf camps and surf hotels in Cabarete

THE WATER SPORTS ON OFFER IN CABARETE

LEARN TO SURF

surf yoga campCabarete has the most ideal and consistent beginner surf conditions anywhere in the world. With warm water year round and ideal wave conditions for getting your first rides on a surfboard, Swell surf camp in the centre of Cabarete is one of the best adult surf camps in the world for beginner surfers.

How long does it take to learn to surf?

You should give yourself a week at a surf camp like Swell Cabarete Surf Retreat  to be able to master your pop up and to start to turn the surfboard to ride along the wave. Completely mastering the art of surfing takes a good deal longer, but an award-winning adult surf camp like Swell will give you the very best start and certainly get you hooked on the incredible feeling of surfing a wave, regardless of your age!
Want to learn to surf and are over 40 – 50 or 60, read this article >>

LEARN TO KITESURF / KITEBOARD

learn to kitesurfAlong with great surf conditions for beginners, Cabarete also enjoys near-perfect kite-boarding conditions. The wind picks up in the afternoon generally and is side-on, which is one of the reasons why learning to kite in Cabarete is such a good idea (side-off winds are less desirable).

There are many good kite schools in Cabarete along the bay and two known places to take kite lessons; Kite Beach and Cabarete Bay. Down-winders are also very popular along the North coast.

How long does it take to learn to kite?

You should allow yourself around 8 hours of structured kite lessons with an IKO kiteboard instructor; use an accredited school using up-to-date, new or nearly new equipment.

YOGA CLASSES

There are many different Yoga centres in and around Cabarete, offering different Yoga styles. Yoga at Swell surf camp is 3 times per week and Molly the Yogi there is practising Ashtanga Yoga. Yoga in the water on SUP boards, is also available on the main bay of Cabarete.

SUP (stand-up-paddleboarding)

Cabarete bay provides a wonderful location for paddleboarding around a huge bay. 100m of paddling your SUP from the beach will have you out on the reef where you can catch ideal waves. There’s plenty of space for you to spread out and enjoy paddling in the warm water. If you don’t want to catch waves on your SUP, you can use the wide expanse of the bay to paddle and keep fit. As mentioned before, you can even enjoy a Yoga class on your SUP in the mornings.

WINDSURFING

Before kiteboarding became popular in Cabarete, it was world-renowned for windsurfing. You can still take a windsurfing lesson, or rent good quality equipment from several schools situated along this wide sandy bay.

SNORKELLING AND DIVING

snorkelling cabarete sosuaJust 10 minutes from Cabarete is the pretty bay of Sosua, where you will find some really professional diving schools. Schools like TSM can get you accredited from scratch with a PADI dive course. If you don’t want to dive, they will also take you out to snorkel in the bay of Sosua, which is jam-packed with pretty fish to swim with along areas of reef. Snorkelling is also possible in Cabarete, especially on kite beach in the mornings, just be careful of the low tide.

CANYONING

cabarete activitiesThe Dominican Republic is bursting at the seams with mountains and rivers. You may not know but it is home to the highest peak in the Caribbean region, Pico Duarte, which is over 3000m high. These mountains and rivers create some amazing canyons and caves, so beautiful they will take your breath away. Canyoning with Kayak River Adventures is a day trip not to be missed and they have several different tours, with varying degrees of difficulty to choose from for an action-packed exhilarating adventure, exploring some real geological wonders of the world.

WHAT’S ON OFFER AT SWELL SURF CAMP?

surf holidaySwell has been voted Best Surf Camp in both the Dominican Republic and in the wider Caribbean region and also voted Best Surf Camp for Beginners several times over in the 9 years they have been open.

Swell caters to adults who want to learn to surf in a stylish, fun place. The ‘camp’ (it’s really a stylish boutique surf retreat in Cabarete) was purpose built and the design based on the owner’s many years of surfcamp and surf travel experience.

The owners knew exactly what surfers, novice or beginner surfers wanted; a social place with great accommodation and delicious food, where adult travellers could come, either solo, as a couple or friends, to experience a great surf vacation.

Swell offers surf lessons for its own guests (they won’t give lessons to you if you are not staying at the camp) and has a complete concierge service to organise any or all of the other fun activities on offer in the area. You can contact us via this page.

BEST TIME TO VISIT THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The North coast of Cabarete has waves 340-350 days of the year, ranging from  chest high to overhead. Conditions for learning to surf are year round, advanced and expert surfers are best off in the winter months.
Have a look at the season and when is the best time to visit the Dominican Republic

ABOUT SWELL CABARETE SURF HOTEL

off to the surf lessonWe opened in winter 2009/2010 to create a boutique luxury surf camp experience whilst having the comforts of a surf hotel. Located right in the center of Cabarete, minutes walk from cabarete main beach.
Swell caters for adults who want to learn to surf or kitesurf, and want to improve their surfing & kiteboarding whilst staying at a social and comfortable place with like minded people.  Because of the social aspect of our Cabarete surf hotel we are an ideal place to stay for solo travellers that are looking for an active holiday.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!

Have a look at the Gallerie below to see what Swell Cabarete Surf Hotel and the sports on offer on the north coast of the Dominican republic

SWELL GALLERY

 
 

Single / Solo Traveller? Read this article why Swell is the place for you

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SWELL HOLIDAYS

surf school

LEARN TO SURF HOLIDAYS

What’s new at Swell Surf Camp

May 2018 Swell Surf Holiday news

  • News
  • Why go to Swell on a learn to surf holiday
  • Summer kitesurf season in cabarete

NEWS

About 2 months ago we launched the Swell 2018 website, aftre some initial technical difficulties the site is now running smooth and we see visitors stats are good, people are finding the pages and info they are looking for easier and quicker to find on the new website. We have updated the Swell Gallery page so it’s now real easy to see what Swell Learn to surf holidays are all about. have a look at the galleries and let us know what you think.

iNSPIRE DR AND SWELL SURF CAMP

We are also very proud and happy to announce that we have partnered up with Inspire DR, A US non-profit organisation based just a 100 yards from where Swell is based. Inspire teaches young Dominican and Haitian boys essential skills to become the community leaders of the future.

The boys learn vitally important skills for life; critical thinking, respect, timeliness, responsibility, leadership, entrepreneurship and teamwork, using a variety of methods.

The programme also teaches them some valuable practical skills; woodworking, swimming, English, surfing (that’s one of the ways we help) and many more.

We love the way InspireDR reward the boys when they have reached certain goals; each day, the boys have to demonstrate the values and skills listed above.

As they must be demonstrated every day, with no exceptions, these values just become normal for the boys. They must also have an attendance record at the school of more than 90% so consistency and reliability also becomes normal.

InspireDR have so far helped 97 boys from the local community, with 62 currently in the programme and a waiting list of 71 more boys hoping to join.

Winter season has come to an end in the Dominican Republic, but that doesn’t mean the surf season has

The Dominican Republic has waves year round, no distinct rainy season and the water is always warm, have a look at this page, and this page for more info on when to go to the DR

WHY GO ON A LEARN TO SURF HOLIDAY WITH SWELL?

Here at Swell we are all fanatical about our surfing (well not all, Haudy our lovely manager doesn’t surf, her passion is food and cooking, and the Swell clients love here for it!)

When we started Swell we had 1 goal:

“To provide the best luxury surf camp experience available on the market”

swell surf camp

We designed a building from scratch that is comfortable, stylish and a social place to stay, we wanted it to be a place where we ourselves would be very happy to stay on our holidays.

Even though we have many years of surfing experience between us, we also know our weakness: we are not the best surf instructors ourselves, so we were the first surf camp in the Dominican Republic that employs fully qualified ISA surf instructors. The minimum requirement for surf instructors at Swell is to be ISA level 1 qualified, but most of the time we have ISA level 2 coaches working for us.

A STRUCTURED APPROACH TO LEARNING TO SURF

learn to surf holidaysBefore we opened Swell we had visited many surf camps around the world (we used to run a successful surf travel company).At a lot of those surf camps in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Bali we saw practises that were not very beneficial for the students that wanted to learn to surf

Why?

  • Classes with student to instructor ratios over 10:1
  • Instructors that were not qualified
  • Instructors that barely spoke english
  • Instructors that didn’t want to teach, instead they wanted to surf themselves
  • No safe soft top surfboards

*Definitely not all Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Bali Surf camps give , what is in our opinion, bad surf lessons. There are some very good surf camps and surf schools in those countries (I’d be very happy to send a list of highly recommended surf camps and schools , just send us an email).

We at Swell want to make sure that every Swell clients get a top learn to surf holiday from us, so that’s why we use qualified ISA surf instructors for our ” learn to surf holidays “.

INTERESTED IN JOINING SWELL

Have a look at the following pages to see if the learn to surf holidays we offer are something that would suit you.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!

 

Swell learn to surf holidays

 

Swell learn to surf holidays/span>
Written by: Reviewer
Date Published: 12/01/2017
Swell’s learn to surf holiday is a perfect way to learn the sport of surfing in a fun, safe and quick way
9.7 / 10 stars
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Kitesurf Holiday

KITESURF HOLIDAY

Kitesurf season is coming up in Cabarete, Dominican Republic.Besides awesome surfing conditions for surfers of all levels, Cabarete is also widely regarded as the kitesurf capital of the world.

Perfect conditions for kiteboarders of all levels.

What to expect if you are coming to Cabarete for a kitesurf holiday?

  • Steady tradewinds that kick in in the afternoon, so no need to get up early in the morning.
  • Warm water and air temperatures so no need for a wetsuit.
  • Different kite surf spots close to cabarete, from waves to flat water.
  • Plenty of space, no need to get lines tangled.
  • Good kite surf schools so you can learn in a safe manner.
  • Awesome local talent that put on a great show.

We have converted many surfers into kitesurfers over the years, and if you are also interested in learning this exciting sport, join us this summer and sign up for our kitesurf package.

How many hours of kitesurf lessons do I need?
Some advertise 4-6 hours of kitesurf lesson packages, to lure clients in with low prices. We don’t believe in this approach, learning in a safe manner, requires at least 8-10 hours of lessons and another few hours of supervised kitesurfing.

Do I need to be strong for kitesurfing?
No,  kids as young as 6 have learned kiteboarding and people as old as 70 are still kitesurfing.

Is Kitesurfing dangerous?
Not when you take lessons with a qualified kite surf school in Cabarete.

How much does the kitesurf equipment costs?

  • Used board starts at 200-300 USD
  • Used kite and bar starts at 400-500 USD
  • Harness costs around 65 USD

Is used kite equipment available for purchase in Cabarete?

yes plenty of people have good used kite equipment for sale, ask around at the different kite school.

For more information on kitesurfing Dominican Republic visit this page which has a full kitesurfing dominican republic travel guide
The 2015 Cabarete PKRA kiteboard worldcup sponsored by Virgin ( Branson’s company) will be stopping by in June , see the event schedule.

Have anymore questions about kitesurfing , Cabarete or a surf holiday to the DR’s #1 surf camp, send us an email.

For those interested in learning to kitesurf on their caribbean, here’s a good starter guide

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What level is my surfing?

what level of surfer am i?

Here at Swell, we deal with this question on a weekly basis.

Of the many emails we receive each week, we find that several of our potential guests are unsure how to class the level of surf experience they have: Many people call themselves intermediate surfers, but in our experience, it’s such a generic term, this is not applicable.  Far better to judge the term by what you can actually achieve on your surfboard in the water, so we’ve put together a simple guide for you to help you decide which level you are really at and if you can still benefit from taking surf lessons.

 

How much surfing have you actually done?

We start by asking this question.  The answer is that if you have only visited one or two surf camps, you have less than 20 hours of surf lessons, or you have not surfed regularly, we, and most reputable surf camps, will consider you still to be a beginner surfer.

I’d give myself as a good example to compare and consider your own level; I have been surfing pretty regularly (several days in each month) for two years, and whilst I am no longer a beginner, I still consider myself a Novice, not yet an Intermediate.  Why?  The answer is that I am still not comfortable in larger waves and despite being generally paddle fit (which many of our guests are not, having just come out of an office) I am not completely confident in catching green waves larger than chest high.   And, whilst I can trim, I can’t yet carve.

 

The next question is: Do you need surf lessons?

Again, using myself as an example, I don’t take regular surf lessons, but sometimes, I will take a couple of hours of lessons to improve a particular aspect of my surfing that I know i  need help with.

If you are someone who has taken say 10 to 15 good lessons in recent months and are able to paddle independently, select your own waves and pop up consistently, we might say that you just need practise rather than lessons and can get by on tips from our coaching staff (who are ever-present) to improve certain aspects of your surfing.

To help you correctly judge your level, we’ve made a list below which we hope will  indicate the steps you should have accomplished to reach the various surfing stages.

 

Complete Beginner:

happy surf school
When you have no previous surf experience at all, or maybe have taken a single lesson at some stage. Before entering the water, you will taught the terminology of a surfboard (rail, tail, etc.) and be shown how to lie on the board + how to ‘pop-up’ correctly once the wave is carrying you.

In a complete beginner lesson, you will be taught in the shallow water, using the power of waves which have already broken.   Once you are able to pop-up regularly, you’ll be taught the correct stance to take and how you can start to place certain pressures on the board, allowing you to ‘turn’ to ride in one direction or another.  A complete beginner can enjoy the benefit of having a surf coach give them a push to get them started on a wave.

Beginner:

first surf lesson
When you have only done a few hours of surf lessons or a couple of surf camps. Most importantly, you are still a Beginner if you cannot yet achieve the following steps independently 1. Enter the water and paddle out to unbroken waves. 2. Select a wave to ride.  3. Pop-up quickly. 4. Turn the surfboard easily and ride down the line.

Much like a complete beginner lesson, our team will go over the pop-up with you to see if you have the basics (bad habits in a pop-up are certain to cause you future issues).  Once you are in the water, our team will assess where you are with your paddling and your pop-up, moving you quickly on to new tips if you have already mastered those vital skills. Surfing depends so much on fitness, so even if you were rocking in a previous lesson at another surf camp, you may find that paddling again exhausts you fairly quickly, so you too will benefit from some helpful pushes from our surf coaches.

Let’s expel a myth about surf lessons: Just because you are not catching green, unbroken waves, it doesn’t mean you are not learning to surf.  Every paddle, every pop-up, every ride, every turn; they all count, even in the white water.  Everyone has to master those basic skills before you can move onto the unbroken waves.

 

Novice

surfer girl
This is you if you already have several months of regular surfing behind you and can achieve the following: 1. You feel comfortable paddling independently out to a line up on a smaller swell. 2. You can paddle yourself into a wave and are able to pop up and trim the surfboard to ride down the line.

Our staff can still teach you a great deal; tips on popping up more quickly, taking the correct stance, better trimming,  even beginning to make bottom and top turns (carving).

 
 

Intermediate.

surfing cabarete
When you are surfing regularly (every week) for at least one year and more importantly, you can achieve all of the following: 1.  You can catch head high, unbroken waves independently (you certainly don’t need to be pushed by a surf coach to get into a wave).  2. You can control your speed on a wave.  3. You can carve or trim the surfboard whilst on the wave, changing direction easily. Giving lessons to a genuine Intermediate surfer is mostly dependent on wave co-operation (too big a swell makes coaching intermediates very challenging).   We coach intermediates at Swell by being out in the water with you and giving tips and advice on improving certain aspects of your technique.

 

Interested in a Swell learn to surf holiday? Have a look at our approach to surf lessons

SWELL GALLERIES

 
 

Single / Solo Traveller? Read this article why Swell is the place for you

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Surf & Yoga Camp

Surf & Yoga Camp

So, the love affair between Surfing and Yoga continues to gain strength and it’s no accident that the two pair-up so well.

surf yoga campPre-surf stretching has been a vital part of the surfing process – using limbs in a way that is alien to most other daily activities or sports can take it’s toll, even on bodies whose owners consider themselves to be quite fit ordinarily.

Unless you are a seasoned swimmer, arms are not used to paddling as a rule so shoulders can react unpleasantly to the demands of catching those waves. Good balance is also an essential part of the surfing process.

Yoga brings together many of the skills you will need to learn to surf well and perhaps most importantly, helps to stretch, relax, repair and tone aching limbs. At Swell, we are very fortunate to have the lovely Molly O’Meara as our Yogi – Molly’s very friendly and relaxed way of teaching Yoga really concentrates on the individual…..she’s wonderful at pin-pointing your sore spots and gently encouraging your body to ‘give’ and relax.

 

Yoga sessions are held at least twice per week and can be increased on request.
The Yoga and Surf  package we offer at Swell has become more popular of the last 4 years since we opened our surf camp in the Dominican Republic.

 

What is the Yoga & Surf package Swell offers?

yoga surfingAt least twice a week our local Yoga instructor who is a full time resident in Cabarete comes to Swell to teach a Yoga class in the garden at Yoga. The Yoga classes we offer are accessible for people of all levels, so it doesn’t matter if you have never been to a class before.

The instructor will assess your abilities and adjust the level of the exercises to that accordingly.

 

Yoga  Surf Holiday

Who is the package for?

yoga & surf campWe get Yoga fanatics  who have been to many surf & yoga retreats in the past , who cannot go a few days without a class, but also complete newbies who see the benefits of having good balance in body and mind, as well as better breathing as a huge advantage for a surfing holiday.
more info can be found on this page: Yoga surf holiday

 

Sign up for the Surf & Yoga Camp

Every surf holiday package  that Swell offers has the possibility of adding Yoga Classes. It is best to mention to Clare ( who answers your emails) that  you are interested in the Yoga, so she knows what the availability is like for that specific week.

Besides Yoga there are a ton of activities you can do on a surf yoga camp: see our list of watersport activities in the Dominican republic

Quick tip: Swell is a popular place and as a result we can sometimes fill up months in advance, so if you are interested in joining us, don’t wait too long; send us an email today.

INTERESTED IN JOINING SWELL

Have a look at the following pages to see if the learn to surf holidays we offer are something that would suit you.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!

The 9 best yoga poses for surfers

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON AT OUR SURF & YOGA CAMPS

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