Stand up paddle surf



Like it or not, sometimes, there are just no waves to be surfed. On the North Coast of the Dominican republic this is very rare, but 5 to 10 days per year the waves get smaller than knee high. This is something which is naturally disappointing if you have travelled to a particular destination intent on catching some swell, though there are many other exciting and fun ocean activities which you can certainly try if the waves are flat. These will perhaps provide you with an altogether different experience and feel of the ocean than surfing. Nonetheless, they still have the potential to be amazingly fun and increase your overall appreciation of the ocean when the surf is not up.


Stand-up paddleboarding is something which many surf enthusiasts have likely already tried. If not, then anyone with some decent experience on the board will take to this ocean activity in no time at all. There is something very tranquil and peaceful about SUP. This activity allows you to glide, almost effortlessly across the ocean.

Stand up paddle surf

During this experience, you are bound to experience some moments of peaceful enlightenment. SUP is growing steadily in popularity with many beautiful global destinations keen to offer this for periods during which the waves are calm. It is also relatively easy for a novice surfer to pick up.
As mentioned, it is a great way to improve board confidence which you can then transition into your surfing experiences. Check out the center for surf research for some awesome information on all things sustainable, and some great information on the best paddleboards to suit your style. As with any activity, it takes some learning and practice which is best performed with the right equipment. Once you get the hang of paddleboarding though, it is perfect for those days when the waves are flat, or you just feel like a more relaxing cruise along the coast. Some have even been known to commute via paddleboard.


Another water-based sport for the times when the ocean is calm, although this can be either relaxing or exhilarating depending on your preference. Naturally, you can have some great experiences kayaking the oceans when the waves are low. There are many different types of kayak suitable for one or two people which are usually highly durable and easy to transport to your destination.
watersport holiday
Besides just paddling around, you could explore some nearby caves, or just admire the views and the stunning ocean from your location.
Kayaking is very easy to pick up for beginners in terms of a learning curve, and you can be out on the ocean in no time at all. The fantastic thing about kayaking is thanks to the safety and security of most kayaks, you can go out in groups and enjoy a really fun day in the ocean.

Why not bring some lunch and aim for a nearby sandbar or beach to explore for the day. All of this will be possible depending upon your location. This is one of the most enjoyable pursuits for many who want a break from surfing but still wish to enjoy the qualities of the ocean from above. Certain forms of kayaking can also provide the thrill which many surfers often seek, although these are most often found in rivers rather than with ocean kayaking. Either way, it presents a great opportunity to view the ocean from the surface in all of its splendour.


Moving below the surface, snorkelling can be an easily accessible, yet life-transforming experience under the correct conditions when the waves are not on your side for surfing. With just a few easy to acquire pieces of equipment, you can begin exploring what lies beneath that beautiful ocean which you often surf. For many, this can be a truly transformative experience. Seeing the beauty of life, flora, and fauna which is just below our feet can be a powerful moment.

snorkeling sosua
Ultimately, snorkelling is a fun activity which you can also enjoy at your leisure with a partner or younger family members without any fear of injury or accident, and if you are lucky, you may get to capture some picturesque moments along the way. Certain areas are of course more suitable than others. These include areas such as Cebu, the Philippines which is famous for its amazing snorkelling experiences where swimmers can interact with whale sharks up close.

There are many of these types of experiences offered, usually in the deeper waters, but if you are just curious to check out what is beneath the usual surf, this is the ideal activity of choice for you on the next calm ocean day.
Swell offers snorkeling trips to Sosua for our clients, see more information on the adventure day trips we offer


If you have tried and enjoyed snorkelling but wish to go quite a lot deeper and become fully immersed, then scuba may be the ideal direction for you. Naturally, this is not something which you can decide to do on a whim. It will take a lot of learning and dedication to become an accomplished diver. Even getting started as a beginner can be a daunting task. It is also though, one of the most rewarding experiences which any ocean lover can undertake.

Suba Diving dominican republic
Exploring deep below the surface, you will likely encounter many breathtaking scenes which you simply could not comprehend from above. This gives most of us an entirely new perspective on ocean life, and can greatly enhance our future surfing experiences. From having the ability to view shipwrecks to the most diverse ranges of aquatic life, this is certainly one of the most impressive and energizing experiences you can engage in, and in fact, it goes much further beyond just something to do when the surf is not good. Both activities though can certainly be learned and enjoyed at the same time.
You can also check an interesting article on underwater scooters for scuba diving on Cape Boating


If all of the above sound like a lot of hard work to you, you could always decide to take to the ocean in a different form of transport entirely. One activity loss is another’s gain. Sailing is one activity which certainly relies on calm seas, quite the opposite to what would be ideal for surfing. Of course, this is another activity which requires some preparation, you need to have the use of a sailing boat for a start. Once this is the case, however, there is often no better or more exciting way to traverse the open sea, depending on the type of sailboat you are using.

Laser sailing
Sailing can be smooth and relaxing or also hard work. It really depends on who is doing the sailing, however, as a passenger it can provide a fantastic sense of freedom and adventure. There are many stories of solo or tea sailboats travelling the world. This open approach to the ocean provides a sense of escape which is unattainable through an activity such as surfing. With someone else in control, it can also be a relaxing way to experience your surroundings from a more distant and comfortable viewpoint.


Of course, under ideal circumstances, the waves will be fantastic and perfect for surfing. As experienced surfers, however, we know that this is not always the case and that unexpected changes in conditions can drastically alter your plans for the day. As we can see from the above ocean activities, though, there is no shortage of other options to pursue when the sea conditions are calm. Whichever other activity you choose to spend your time on will open up your eyes to viewing the ocean in a new light, and will likely also provide the entertainment or relaxation you require.

Want to learn wingsurfing / wingfoiling we offer that too.

Share on Facebook


surf holiday beginner

The Best Worldwide Beginner Surf Destinations

Even though our surf camp is in the Dominican Republic, we are also surfers ourselves and have traveled extensively for years in the search for waves to catch.

Based on our experience, here are our top beginner surf destinations in the world, which could also suit intermediate and expert surfers.

Dominican Republic.

We must begin with one of our own places of course: Swell Cabarete is located on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. We very deliberately chose this location after having visited many countries around the globe which might have been suitable as a place to build a surf camp, especially a surf camp which offers perfect, complete-beginner waves for learning to surf.

The boxes we feel that must be ticked to be considered a great beginner surf destination are as follows:

  • Consistency of surf
  • Are there waves for multiple levels of surfers?
  • Are there any dangers in or out of the water?
  • Ease of access to the waves
  • Distance to an international airport

Consistency of surf

To be suitable as a beginner surf camp destination we need to be able to offer our guests surfable waves at least 300+ days of the year.

The North coast delivers on this, with at least 340+ days of surfable waves at Playa Encuentro.

surfing dominican republic

Waves for multiple levels of surfers

Of course, not everyone is a beginner surfer, so in order to consistently make it into the top ten surfing destinations, a great surf camp needs to cater not just for complete beginners, but for intermediate and even expert surfers. Fortunately for us at Swell in Cabarete, once again Playa Encuentro delivers; there are multiple waves and different peaks, all within a short walk from each other. From mellow inside beginner waves to big barreling waves on shallow reefs for expert surfers + everything in between.

Are there any dangers in or out of the water?

Playa Encuentro is also a very safe spot to surf or to learn to surf because there are no dangers in or under the water. Tidal differences are minimal so getting injured from the reef bed is almost impossible. There are no dangerous rips or currents at Playa Encuentro, so there’s no danger of being dragged out to sea.
Neither are there sharks or other dangerous sea life (for example crocodiles and sharks as can be seen in certain parts of Costa Rica) so the Dominican Republic scores very highly on this element too. It also helps to have very warm water year-round, so another bonus point is scored there.

Ease of access to the waves

‘Highway surfing’ is not a term that surfers want to hear as it means they are constantly on the search for waves, without finding them. Again, the Dominican Republic’s waves score highly on the ease of access criteria; it’s only a journey of 10 minutes to a charming, completely unspoiled surf beach.

neno swell

Distance to an international airport

Just as with the afore-mentioned highway surfing we also wanted to minimize the travel time for our clients, so we wanted to be close to an international airport. Our location in Cabarete is just 25 minutes from Puerto Plata international airport (code POP). Santiago International airport (airport code STI) is one and a half hours away. Santo Domingo international airport (airport code SDQ) is also an option at 3 hours car journey time and with buses on offer running north every hour during the day.

Because Cabarete and Playa Encuentro ticked all the right boxes, that’s where we put our first, purpose-built surf camp.  We haven’t talked much about other important criteria, such as choice and quality of food, the beauty of beaches, additional activities on offer, or an available party scene when required, but Cabarete has all of these too, so it still remains our firm No.1 complete-beginner surf destination.

We have clients who come and visit us year after year and always at some point, they ask us ‘Are there any other surf camp destinations that you can recommend to me since I love the whole Swell experience, but want to visit a new country?’

Bali & Indonesia

Indonesia is widely regarded as one of the best countries in the world for surf.  It enjoys 100’s of world-class surfing spots dotted along its many thousands of different islands.  But Bali in particular is famous for its waves: A small island with a huge variety of surf spots to suit surfers of all levels, from complete beginners to experts looking for big barrels.  It’s the home of legendary waves like Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Impossibles and Bingin.  These are only a handful of what’s on offer though, there are tons more and all within a short distance. 


    • High-quality surf for surfers of all levels
    • Year-round surf
    • Bali’s surfing beaches are all within a short drive from the international airport of Denpasar (DPS)
    • Warm water year-round
    • Stunning scenery
    • Serene Hindu culture
    • Notoriously friendly Balinese people
    • Famously delicious and cheap local food + a huge variety of good Western restaurants at very reasonable prices.
    • Lots to do other than surfing


  • Bali is usually quite a long journey from Europe and the Americas.
  • Can be rainy between December and March

Where else in the world can you learn to surf? 

As mentioned earlier, we have also visited more than 20+ surf destinations and countries over the last 25 years in our search for waves and fun.  Here is our honest opinion on some of them:

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is still one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and surf tourism is growing fast there.  It’s mountainous and beautiful and there are some fine surf camps and surf resorts in Costa Rica, suitable for an awesome surf holiday.


  • Very pretty country and scenery
  • Famous for its nature and animal/reptile species
  • Some good surf spots available
  • Lots of eco-tourism
  • Politically safe country
  • Plenty of flights to Costa Rica from lots of countries


  • Costa Rica has become very expensive in recent years: on average 40 to 70% more expensive than a surf holiday to another comparable destination such as Bali or the Dominican Republic
  • Many of the surf areas are remote and require long road journeys or another internal flight once you have arrived at San Jose airport.  Travel time from the airport to the beach can be between 4 and 8 hours depending on where you stay.
  • The surf can be crowded these days
  • Theft is an issue
  • People say that Costa Rica has become too ‘Americanised’
  • Not a wide choice for eating out in these remote surfing areas and food choices can be very limited/rather expensive
  • Some known water hazards, such as crocodiles at river mouth spots.

More info on surfing in Costa Rica as a surf destination for beginners:


Nicaragua is less popular than it’s neighbor Costa Rica, basically because of fairly regular political turmoil.  Tourism only started to take off 20 or so years ago and it’s much less developed than its neighbour, which can be seen as a real plus.  Like Costa Rica, it’s also a beautiful country.


  • 30-40% cheaper than Costa Rica
  • Offshore winds create very clean surf conditions


  • Not a large variety of good beginner surfing spots
  • Travel distances between surf spots is very long
  • Not a wide choice of dining available
  • Recent political unrest is again causing instability

More info on surfing in Nicaragua


Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing. Year-round warm weather and water and great beginner waves around the south coast of Oahu make it a great place to have your first surfing experience.


  • Beautiful scenery and beaches
  • A safe place to visit
  • Plenty of other activities besides surfing
  • Great surf for expert surfers


  • Very expensive (there are only a few surf camps but they are pretty basic and tend to be double or triple the price of Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.)
  • Very, very crowded in the water leading to well-known local aggression.

More info on surf camps in Hawaii:


If you are based in Europe then one of the most popular places people go surfing is to Portugal.  The long, exposed coastline with plenty of beaches is suitable for surfers of all levels.  Portugal is also rich in culture, especially around Lisbon.


  • There are plenty of cheap and basic surf camps (please note that these tend to be more suitable for 18 to 25-year-olds)
  • Variety of surf spots suitable for people of all levels
  • Surf & culture & city life close to Lisbon


  • Coldwater year-round so you will need to bring and wear a wetsuit at all times of the year
  • There are literally 100’s of surf camps and schools so it’s surfboard mayhem at times.
  • Because of the cheap nature of the majority of surf schools, they tend to teach in very large groups; often 20 students to one surf coach
  • Cold air temperature between November and April
  • Basic food choices in the north of Portugal (more choice towards the Algarve region).

More info on surf holidays in Portugals:

Sayulita, Mexico:

A charming fishing village just north of Puerto Vallarta; it’s one of the most beautiful Mexican towns we have ever visited.  We actually lived there for 10 months whilst we researched its possibility as a new surf camp for Swell.  The food and ambiance in Sayulita is wonderful.  In the end, we left because of its rather inconsistent surf, but when there are some waves it’s great fun.


  • Stunning town and some really fun surf out front.
  • Within a short drive, there are a variety of surf spots suitable for people of all levels
  • Incredible food on offer in the town.


  • Surf gets very busy
  • Mexico’s infamous cartel crime hangs a shadow over the area, even though we found Sayulita to feel safe
  • It’s rather expensive to stay there
  • The water in Sayulita bay can get rather dirty.

Canary Islands

This group of islands lies off the coast of Morocco and are a part of Spain.   Rugged and volcanic (not active volcanos) the landscape of most of the islands is dramatically barren and in places resembles the moon-surface.  The Canary Islands have a great winter climate (Nov to April) and some fun surf spots.


  • Easy to get to from Europe
  • Quite a few surf spots dotted around most of the Canary Islands (Lanzarote, Tenerife and Fuerto Ventura have the best surf spots)
  • Good climate


  • Surf gets very busy
  • The Canary Islands are notoriously wind-swept, so many surf spots get blown out by mid-morning.
  • You will need a wet-suit year-round as the water is always cold
  • They are known as cheap islands to stay on, which for some is an advantage, but if you are looking for any kind of luxury, it’s hard to find.


This group of atols has some fun surf and has been described as a mini version of Indonesia.  Generally, it’s pretty expensive to stay there.  A lot of boat charters operate in the region.


  • Stunning, unspoiled islands
  • Fun surf for all levels
  • Warm water


  • It’s a bit of a trek to get there
  • Expensive
  • Can be considered as being rather dull post-surf as there is very little to do
  • Alcohol is prohibited.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a relative newcomer to the surf holiday market but has gained a reputation for having some fun waves.   There are two provinces with very different surf seasons, so make sure that you do your research on where you should go at what time.


  • A variety of surf spots
  • Warm water
  • Great local food
  • Relatively inexpensive


  • Strong monsoon season
  • Crowd levels
  • Long-distance between surf spots.

All of the above entries are based on our experience with several trips to each of the countries mentioned.   We haven’t commented on places we haven’t experienced ourselves, so it’s far from a definitive list.  There are many more countries in the world that cater to beginner surfers with suitable surf camps and surf resorts.

If you have any questions about surfing destinations, feel free to send us a message; normally, we’ve been there and can tell you if it’s suitable for you.  If you prefer to come and see us in either of our two fabulous Swell locations, please do check out Swell surf camp in the Dominican Republic or our brand new location, Swell Bali in Indonesia,  you can contact us easily by using the contact us links on either of those websites.

Enjoy the waves wherever you go!

Jeroen & Clare
Owners Swell Surf Camp


Located on the scenic north coast of the Dominican Republic is our purpose-built surf resort

We cater for surfers of all levels, from beginners to expert surfers who are looking for an active surf holiday

beginner surf destinations

Share on Facebook


surfing encuentro

A family surf trip!

The summer is almost over; we are headed into Autumn and then the (often dreaded) long months of Winter.

We all need something to look forward to, so thoughts often turn to next summer’s plans to keep us going through the cold months. Family vacations are always best planned well in advance to make sure of space for your preferred choice.

Family surf vacationPerhaps you are all thinking about a family beach vacation; most family holidays understandably involve the beach, who wouldn’t want to be on a sandy beach with their family?

But Mom and Dad, is a sandy beach and the ocean enough to keep the kids entertained for days on end? Wouldn’t you prefer to have something planned which will not only keep the kids entertained and enthralled with the ocean, but also wear them out a little, challenge them and teach them a sporting skill which will stay with them for life?


Teaching your kids to surf on a family surf vacation is quite possibly the best choice you could make; let us explain why.

Firstly, learning to surf when a child means that they will pick up this sport way faster than their ‘old’ parents. Kids are normally devoid of fear and have a low centre of gravity, which means they can stand easily and quickly on a surfboard. You can imagine, a small person + a large surfboard (we use soft tops to avoid injury) equals lots of flotation; what every surfer needs. In our experience, kids learn fast and pick up advanced surf skills even faster, like turning and ‘trimming’ the surfboard. It is said that every surf session a young person has is worth 20 sessions for an adult.

Family surf campBeing able to surf opens horizons for kids. There is a ‘spiritual’ aspect to surfing: Without sounding too way-out-there, the feeling of riding the open face of a wave is akin to experiencing real joy. Just you and the wave, gliding. It’s very hard to describe how amazing this feeling is, you just have to take my word for it until you try it yourself.


At Swell surf camp, we tend to turn people into surfers for life.

People who surf are happier, more fulfilled and calmer and that’s not even taking into account the endless fitness benefits of surfing.

Surfing’s health benefits include cardio-vascular fitness, increased core-strength, stronger arms and legs. It’s great for burning calories with an average burn of 700 calories per surf session. Paddling for a wave is a low impact cardio-vascular exercise. Surfers say you either have a great surf session or a great work-out; it’s win-win. Doesn’t every parent want to set their kids up for life with a healthy, fulfilling passion?

Surfers are also passionate about the planet: As surfers, we see at first hand the damage humans have done to marine life and the water. We’ve all paddled through plastic at some stage in our surfing lives. Teaching your kids to surf will also give them a care of the ocean and the environment they will not be able to learn anywhere else.

A family surfing holiday with us also means the opportunity to do many more activities other than surfing. From Swell, we regularly organise trips like canyoning, snorkeling, horse-riding (on the beach or up in the mountains), 4-wheeler tours, mountain biking, SUP and Yoga

So if you have a child or children who are 8 years old and up, who can already swim (we teach in warm, shallow water, but being able to swim is essential) and would like to plan a family surf vacation at Swell surf camp in summer 2019, do get in touch with us.

Whilst we are talking about learning to surf, don’t only book your child in for surf lessons, make sure you do it too. They may learn faster than you do, but doing something fun, active and meaningful with your child is absolutely priceless. Lastly, as a comforting thought to you if you feel too old to surf, I learned to surf at 51; my only regret is that I had done it so many years earlier when my kids learned themselves.


Interested in joining us for a family summer surf camp?

Send us a message today and your family could be off on a one of a kind surf holiday

Share on Facebook


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.


  • 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



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 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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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



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

Share on Facebook

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

Share on Facebook

Meet the Swell team: Neno

neno swell

Meet the Swell team: Neno

The next few weeks the blog posting will focus on different staff members at Swell. The first staff member we focus on is Juan Alberto Mejia Castillo, better known by 100’s of swell clients as  Neno.

If you look around the Swell website you’ll find lots of photos of the smiling Dominican. Why? Because Neno is one of our top staff members: teaches people to surf, hangs around dinners and is always up for a pool table challenge ( be carefull he is good)

Neno has been with Swell 4 plus years and is one of the most experienced surf instructors in the Dominican Republic. With his ever present big smile, big enthusiasm  (and equally awesome big hair) he is one of the most popular staff members of Swell.

Full Name:
Juan Alberto Mejia Castillo

Nick Name:

Position at Swell:
Surf Instructor



How long have you worked for Swell?
4 Years

Spanish, English and a little bit of swedish

Favourite music:

Favorite drink:

surf and road trips

Favorite surfboard:
long board

Favorite surf spot:

The best part about working for Swell is:
meeting new people and the vibe

The part I don’t like is:
the cat (jk)

One day I would like to

I am really good at

But not very good at

What would you like to see changed in the world?
eliminate corruption

When people come to Swell and the Dominican Republic they should definitely
visit playa grande

Tell us about yourself
Since I was a child I was always interested in computer science! I have two younger siblings the youngest is 21 and the oldest is 24. The youngest lives here in cabarete and the eldest lives with my parents in nagua, in the countryside, when i started working i was pretty young with the age of ten as a gardener, that was my first serious job and then after that i started working other stuff like carpentry, constuction and security. Security was my last job before i started working for swell surf camp and here i am!!

Photo of neno surfing at Encuentro

Interested in being taught the sport of Surfing? have a look at our learn to surf holiday packages, contact Clare and off you go on a unique surf holiday to the dominican republic.

Share on Facebook

Top Things to do in Cabarete

Top Things to do in Cabarete (other than Surfing & Yoga)

Caberete, the action sport capital of the Caribbean. Located on the North coast of the Dominican republic, 20 minutes from Puerto Plata international airport (POP).


all inclusive hotel cabareteThe first words that come to most peoples minds when they think of a holiday to the Dominican Republic is: Lazy all inclusive holiday. Whilst this is true for most resort towns in the DR like Punta Cana, Sosua, Puerto Plata. It couldn’t be further from the truth for Cabarete.

No gated big all inclusive resorts are found in Cabarete. What you will find is lots of smaller hotels / guesthouses and B&B’s. Why? The people that visit Cabarete are not your average lazy all inclusive hotel guests that sit on a sunbed and drink horrible cheap rum & coke’s from a plastic cup. The average tourist visiting Cabarete is there to be active in, under or above the water.


So what are the Top Things to do in Cabarete?

kitesurf-holiday1. KiteSurfing  and Windsurfing

Cabarete is ranked as one of the world’s top Kitesurfing and windsurfing destinations in the world. Big beaches, side onshore trade winds make for safe conditions for kitesurfers of all levels. The other reasons that beginners, intermediates & pros all love Cabarete is the variety of kite surfing spots in and around Cabarete. From the flat water at la Boca to the waves on the offshore reefs or the flat water at Kitebeach cabarete that is ideal for beginners and intermediates


G09556652. Snorkeling and Diving

A short drive from Cabarete is Sosua. Clear water makes for great snorkelling and diving. There are a few dive operators offering half day snorkelling trips. From Swell we usually organize a snorkeling trip to Sosua once per week. Ask our manager for the snorkeling schedule. It is also possible to do a Padi dive course in Sosua or Cabarete.


active-holiday3. Canyoning through the waterfalls

Swell guests repeatedly say that the Cayoning trip organised by Helmut and Matt for Swell is one of the best adrenaline fun filled day trips they have ever done. Expect to see spectacular scenery, jumping off waterfalls, swimming through gorges.


cabarete beach4. Enjoy fine food and drinks at Cabarete beach

Cabarete beach has a great dining and party scene. Start of with a sunset drink on one of the beach side bars, under palms trees on a white sandy beach. Then enjoy some fine food, from new york steak to fine sea food. Top recommendations are La Casita de Papi’s sea food restaurant right on the beach.

Party scene: the bars and nightclubs start to getting going by 10 in the evening until …. well..late. Which days of the week? Any day although friday and saturday it’s usually a BIG party.


5.Take a day trip to Playa Grande & ziplining at Laguna Dudu

Playa Grande is an hour away from Cabarete and is  a stunning white sandy beach, lined with tall palm trees, and no development. Laguna El Dudu is an exciting and mostly unknown attraction on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. It requires a bit of bravery before one is able to swim in the water as the lagoon is surrounded by natural cliffs from which to jump into refreshment.

Top Things to do in Cabarete

This is just a short list of the top things you can do in and around Cabarete, there’s loads more stuff to do. Have a look at this video and see for yourself if Cabarete and Swell Surf & Yoga retreat is the kind of place for your active holiday.



Want to see more ideas on what the Dominican republic has to offer? Read our extensive article on the top 20 DR activities

top 20 activities in the DR


Interested in an Active Surf & Yoga Holiday? Send us a message

Read our 5 reasons why a visit to the Dominican republic will satisfy all adventure holiday makers

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

Share on Facebook

Surf photos

Paloma has been taking great surf photos of our clients who are enjoying their surf holiday here in the Dominican Republic.

She is great at taking water shots, and she got her new long lens so the surf photos from the shore will also be great.

Prime surf season has started and will be in full swing all the wait into April. This means good waves for beginners – intermediates as well as the experts surfers who are looking for overhead waves at Encuentro or at any of the numerous quality reef breaks around Cabarete.

Interested in joining us for a yoga surf holiday? Send Clare a message today

Share on Facebook