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.

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Getting to the Dominican republic


You have made the smart choice on going on a holiday to the Caribbean country of the Dominican Republic, and now you are looking for information on how to get to the Dominican republic, and once on the island on how to get around.

The DR is a large island so below we have made compiled all the info you need for a succesfull trip to & around the DR.

The first part is about getting to the Dominican republic, and the second part is about getting around the island


In the Dominican Republic, there are several marinas for ships and boats, domestic airstrips for private planes and charter, and eight international airports are operational. Regardless of your means of transportation and destination in DR, one major factor to consider is choosing the right gateway. DR is a large island with road distances that could take you close to 24 hours to reach your destination. For instance, you will have to spend about seven hours to transport overland from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata airports. Hence, it becomes pertinent to choose the right arrival and departure gateway that is nearest to your destination as it will reduce cost and stress.


Airports of the Dominican Republic


• Las Americas International Airport (SDQ): this airport is about 30 minutes from the capital of Santo Domingo. Also, it is the main point of entrance for international air arrivals into the city. SDQ which is also known as the Jose Francisco Pena Gomez International Airport is one of the most accessible places to reach the beach towns of Boca Chica and Juan Dolio as it is just six miles away.

• La Isabela International Airport: which is also called Dr. Joaquin Balaguer International Airport (JBQ) is situated at the north end of Santo Domingo where flights are leaving and arriving from Haiti, Cuba and the chosen nearby Caribbean islands are handled.


From Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) to Punta Cana and Cap Cana areas, it will take you 15-minute drive, but you will need a 30-minute drive to reach Bavaro, El Cortecito, and Arena Gorda from the same airport. Also, about 45-minute is needed to move from the airport to areas such as Macao and Uvero Alto. PUJ is the busiest airport in DR because it handles flight from more than 28 different countries and 96 cities around the globe. Also, it is the second busiest airport in the whole of the Caribbean region with an estimated 3.5 million international passengers entering DR through PUJ per year.


The Gregorio Luperon International Airport – simply known as POP – is situated at a 20-minute distance to the north coast city of Puerto Plata as well as some nearby tourist centers such as Cabarete, Playa Dorada, Cofresi, and Sosua. Also, you will be able to reach Playa Grande and Rio San Juan within an hour by road from POP.


The southeastern coast located La Romana International Airport (LRM) is also referred to as the Casa De Campo International Airport. The airport is about 10 minutes and 20 minutes away from Casa de Campo Resort & Villas and Bayahibe respectively by car. Also, you will be able to reach Santo Domingo by car from LRM within two hours while it will take less than one hour to reach Punta Cana.


You can also call the El Catey International Airport as Juan Bosch International airport or simply as AZS. It is about 30 minutes from the city of Santa Barbara de Samana as well as Las Terrenas. Nevertheless, you will have to be patient for an hour to reach Las Galeras from the airport by car.


From the Cibao International Airport (STI) to the bustling Santiago, it will take just 15 minutes. Santiago is the second biggest city in the Dominican Republic and is located within the mountainous region of the nation. STI is also close to other cities and towns such as Constanza, La Vega, and Jarabacoa. You can use STI as your gateway if you will be residing in Puerto Plata; however, it is advisable to add some extra transportation time to the time of your return flight.

The Dominican Republic has an excellent means of movement to other countries around the world. And also, within the country, you will see a series of flight options that travel to North America and Europe. Airports such as the Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, and Puerto Plata are the primary entry point into the country by air. However, international airports at Santiago and Samana are also used continuously and reliable.

Entering the Dominican Republic is relatively cheaper if you come through a charter flight as a result of the massive all-inclusive tourism industry which is located along the Dominican shores. Within this area, a package deal which includes airfare, food abound, hotel at a low price are made available to those who will like to tour around. Even if you choose not to go all-inclusive, the air charters which moves package tourists to their inclusive destinations do provide additional seats to independent travelers regularly at a low price. While those entering DR from South Africa may get to see lesser bargains, they will need some strength to enter the country through the major airlines; although, they won’t be safe from a transfer in some moments during their trip.

Flights entering Dominican Republic from USA and Canada

how to get to the dominican republic

Some flights are available from the major cities of Canada and USA that conveys passenger to the Dominican Republic. Although some west-coast movements need an overnight stay in New York or Miami, you will get some of the cheapest and most frequently passed gateway from the cities of New York, Montreal, Toronto, and Miami. For instance, JetBlue – the budget airline – offers low-cost travel from North America to airports in Santiago, Puerto Plata, and Santo Domingo. Since all the flights pass through New York City, it is necessary to demand a transfer if you are coming from other countries on the continent.

You can get a handful of companies that offer valuable package tours to Dominican resorts for seven to fourteen days. Generally, these packages are made obtainable to the top commercialized destinations like Cabarete, Puerto Plata and Sosua in the north end of the country and Boca Chica, Punta Cana/Bavaro and Juan Dolio in the south side.

Most package tour operators in the USA mostly work from a specific city and may not be able to connect flights from other areas. Basically, one operator will be able to book your flight with American Airlines and take you to the DR from any major city in the USA – take note that their services are always a bit pricier. If you are leaving from Canada, Dominican packages are served by series of travel “wholesalers” and charter airlines who do avoid dealing with individual citizen directly; instead, you will have to engage a local travel agent if you want to order for one of their packages.

Flights entering Dominican Republic from Europe

how to get to the dominican republic

You can get a direct flight from London to Punta Cana through British Airways, but its only twice per week; currently, they operate on Thursdays and Sundays to and fro at the cost of £300 to £400 all year-round. Also, it is possible to leverage BA to enter Puerto Plata and Santa Domingo; although you will have a stopover in Miami with a connecting flight via their partnered American Airlines.

Another option you can use is that there are some charter flights which travel directly from London Gatwick and Birmingham to Punta Cana or Puerto Plata. Typically, they operate with all-inclusive hotel accommodation, but you can book for a free seat through the website of one of the many charter flight wholesalers. Every scheduled travel to the Dominican Republic moves every day from Gatwick and Heathrow – if you are going to Punta Cana, you will have to move through Paris while to arrive in Puerto Plata, you will need a stop off in New York.
There are also several charter flights per week to the Dominican Republic from: Germany, Switserland, France & Scandinavia

Flights entering the Dominican Republic from Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand

Traveling directly to the Caribbean from Australia or New Zealand is almost unrealistic. The reason is that there is no direct flight from these countries to the Dominican Republic as you will have to fly down to the US or Europe first. Whichever route you decide to take, it is a day-long journey; however, the most comfortable way is through Australia in which there won’t be any stop off from Sydney to New York City through Qantas, United, or American, which is preceded by a follow-up movement to the Dominican Republic through any of the North American Airlines highlighted below. If you are coming from New Zealand, you can follow a direct flight from Auckland to New York, but there will be a stop at Los Angeles, from where you will proceed to DR.
Tourists from South Africa can enter Santo Domingo by following Iberia airlines, although there will be a stopover at Madrid and/or London. Also, they can land at Puerto Plata and Punta Cana through British Airways with stops at London and/or Miami during the journey.



The public transportation system in the Dominican Republic is modernized and comprehensive. Citizens of the countries are regularly on the road for one reason or the other. You can get Uber in three big cities such as Santiago, Puerto Plata, and Santa Domingo. On the contrary, Taxis are everywhere while you can also get different kind and sizes of a bus moving to different towns or cities you might want to visit. Public transportation is one of the most affordable means of movement in DR as well as an excellent way of sightseeing. Consequently, it promises a memorable experience in the country.


The Santo Domingo metro (Opens new window) works on two lines which are mostly utilized by residents moving to their place of work. However, there are several stops which makes sightseeing quite convenient. For instance, line 1 pass through north to the south via Maximo Gomez Avenue, right from the Villa Mella region to the Centra De Los Heroes which is the area where the Congress, Department of Migration, the Supreme Court of Justice and several other government ministries are situated. If you alight at the Casandra Damiron stop on line 1, you will see the Plaza de la Cultura directly – this place is where important Museums and the National Theater are located. From the east to the west, the Line 2 moves from the John F. Kennedy Avenue through the Agora Mall located at the Pedro Mir stop and to the Felix Sanchez Olympic Stadium. For a roundtrip subway, the transport fare is RD$15 for a rechargeable metro card, RD$40 for roundtrip and RD$80 to have a day pass. The subway opens by 6 am and closes by 10:30 pm.


Taxis are ubiquitous and can be board in almost every city and town. You will see them mostly at major bus stations, tourist areas or hotel vicinities. If you will be residing in major cities such as Puerto Plata, Santiago or Santa Domingo, the most advisable option is to order for a 24-hour taxi service from one of the taxi companies – you can ask a representative from your hotel, or ask any native for the most reliable option and also to help contact the brand. For example, Apollo Taxi and Aero Taxi are famous in Santo Domingo. It is advisable to confirm the car color and the estimated waiting time while speaking with the representative of the taxi company. Also, endeavor to confirm the cost of your destination and rates which are stipulated by taxi association for movement within the city.


In the year 2015, the popular ride service app UBER was launched in the Dominican Republic, and currently, it is highly active in three big cities, namely Santiago, Puerto Plata, and Santo Domingo. Also, Cabify works in Domingo. The two apps are safe to use within any region in DR. The reason why most tourists choose to use the two apps is that there is no need to discuss with the driver on the phone – which is a solution to the language barrier. Also, they operate with a better functional car with air conditioning system and seatbelts – that aside, the fare is low during periods of no heavy traffic.



Comfortable and large coach bus services which links several regions to another is one of the significant advantages of DR. Three reliable brands provide a daily trip to major cities with modern, air-conditioned buses which has Wi-Fi service. One of the three brands is the Metro Tours buses that travel through Santo Domingo, Puerto Plat, Sosua, La Romana, and Santiago as well as a daily departure to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The second brand is the Caribe Tours buses that also leaves for Santo Domingo, Santiago, Sosua, and Puerto Plata. Also, Caribe buses do visit Barahona, Cabrena, Samana, La Vega, Montecristi and several towns in the Dominican Republic including Haiti daily. The third bus company is known as Expreso Bavaro which is the only bus service which links Santo Domingo to Bavaro daily, and also, it is an excellent option for Punta Cana travelers.

The cost of Bus service does range between RD$200 to RD$500 for a one-way trip. Ensure that you arrive one hour before the departure time of the buses to take a seat, and ensure that you move along with a sold jacket or scarf because the buses mostly set the air-conditioning to the lowest level.


Private individuals own the Popularly known minivan buses called Guaguas. They are small compared to the large buses and travel scheduled routes within a city, long-distance to small and big areas daily. The guaguas which cover the long-distance journey are quite comfortable like the large coach buses with 20-25 passengers. Each passenger will have a seat and Wi-Fi connection to use. If you don’t want to stop during your trip with guaguas, it is best advised to check those labeled with “Expreso.”



DR guagua transport

The guaguas which travels to the innermost part of the city are usually white vans which stop to pick and drop passengers while moving along a scheduled route. These minivans are the slowest form of movements on the ground. In most cases, passengers are packed together. However, it is the cheapest form of transportation within the city or town. It is advisable to have your change before entering the buses as the drivers do not have changes in most cases, and eventually, you might have no choice than to pay more. Every guagua has a driver and a conductor who call passengers while the minivan is moving, collect fares from the passengers and inform the driver about the next stop. It is encouraged to tell the conductor where you will be alighting immediately you enter the bus, and be ready to pay once you enter or as demanded by the conductor.

Word of warning: The Small guaguas can get very full ( How many passengers can fit into 1 Guagua? Siempre uno mas! Always 1 more)


Most of the locals in the big cities such as Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, and Jarabacoa uses the famous Motorbike taxis as they are the cheapest and quickest means of getting past the traffic. However, it is also the most dangerous means of traveling most especially in big cities where there is heavy traffic. Most of the drivers of motorbike taxis don’t have a helmet for passengers, even though they are tasked to provide one by the government. You should know that taking a slow bike taxi across the mountain towns of Constanza and Jarabacoa is an excellent method of exploring fantastic scenes. You will likely see a motorbike taxis driver wearing a neon-colored vest – but not all of the drivers do wear it. You can request for a motoconcho hub in your area or secure a referral from your hotel. Depending on your destination distance, the cost of fare for motorbike taxis does range from RD$25 to RD$75 within the city.


The shared taxis are also referred to as carrito–conchos, carritos or simply as conchos. Conchos are four-doors sedans which are similar to the in-city guaguas since they also move through particular routes and stop at any spot along the way based on passenger’s request. They can be boarded in the big cities, towns as well as villages. Compared to the guaguas, they are more comfortable; nevertheless, the passengers are usually packed together at the back and front seat. The cost of conchos’ fare is cheaper than the fare of private taxi – which costs RD$150 – as it falls between RD$25 to RD$50 based on your destination.


There are several modern and functional highways in the Dominican Republic which connects the major cities, the coastlines and many famous places of tourism together. The highways are a reflection of the memorable scenes within the nation, most especially the beautiful views along the highways that run from Santo Domingo to the Samana Peninsula, Jarabacoa as well as the coast of Puerto Plata. You should get accustomed to these highways particularly if you aim to hire a car and tour around several regions within the country. You can encounter tolls based on your destination and location; endeavor to ask a representative at your guesthouse before proceeding with your expedition. For example, the highway that covers Santo Domingo to Boca Chica holds one tollbooth; in contrast, there are four tollbooths between Santo Domingo and Bavaro. Also, you should know that the toll fees do vary between RD$60 to RD$1OO per booth. Take along a small change in Dominican pesos while moving out. Although dollars are acceptable, any change required will be given in local currency.

Route One: Autopista Duarte covers from Santo Domingo to Santiago: It has four lanes connecting the north and south side of the country. It will take about two hours to drive from the capital city to Santiago which leads to La Vega and Jarabacoa.

Route Three: Autopista Las Americas: it connects the Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo to the western end of the city as well as the beach town of Boca Chica towards the eastern end. Eventually, it links up with Autopista Coral along La Romana.

Route Three: Autopista Oscar de la Renta: it is also referred to as the Autopista del Coral. It connects Santo Domingo to the Punta Cana resort area while bypassing Higuey within three hours and also enters La Romana in a one-hour drive.

Route Five: Carretera de Puerto Plata: this highway is a dual-lane which runs along the North coast. This highway offers one of the most eccentric and beautiful drives within the country as it passes fishing villages, beaches, far verdant hills, and campo life.

Route Seven: Santo Domingo to Samana Highway: as the name suggests, this highway connects Santo Domingo to the northeastern Samana Peninsula. You will be fascinated with appealing scenes of dense coconut tree-laden hills from the coconut oil plantation looking over a bright blue sea. Another option you can use is to pass through Route 133 or Turístico del Atlántico to reach Las Terrenas; however, it will cost you extra US$11 as a toll fee which is nothing compared to the exciting, winding coastal scene and a vista images over the Bay of Coson through your expedition.

The Dominican Republic has it all!

top 20 activities in the DR

Enjoy your holiday on our beautiful Caribbean island, if you are still looking for a cool place to stay and are looking for an active watersport holiday, see what Swell Surf camp has to offer for you

Questions or comments about this surf technique article? Let us know, send us a message.


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Yes, there is Surf in The Caribbean!

The Caribbean Sea is often associated with warm, tranquil, turquoise waters, white sand, and ideal weather.

But to the surprise of many, the Caribbean is actually home to a myriad of world-class surf breaks scattered throughout the various island nations.

Most people presumably think of umbrella drinks when they think of the Caribbean Islands, not pumping hollow waves that are perfect for a surf holiday.

Looking at a map, it’s hard to tell where swell comes from in the Caribbean, so many people assume that there is little to no surf in the region.

Unlike the West or East Coast of the United States, the Caribbean islands are susceptible to swell from multiple directions, making our Caribbean surf camp a must for any traveling surfer’s bucket list.

good waves
Fun waves at Playa Encuentro

When to surf the DR

There is consistent year-round swell in the DR that will provide waves for any beginner or intermediate surfer. During the fall and winter months, however, the surf picks up in size and consistency, making the Dominican Republic the warm water destination for any expert surfer who is tired of the cold.

For Beginners:

For people who have never surfed before and want to start their wave riding careers, any time of the year is a good time. When the waves get big we stay at the inside and surf the mellow inside part of the wave.

surf instruction
Learn to surf in the Caribbean

Intermediate surfers ( between 1 to 3 years surfing)

For intermediate surfers some of the best months of the year are actually the months with the smaller waves ( June,  July & August) Average wave size is around 1 to 1,5 meters ( chest to head high). If you are an intermediate and want to start riding bigger waves than the winter months are better ( Between Dec and April)

surfer girl
Ideal waves to improve

Expert surfers

Experts surfers have 2 options on the North coast of the Dominican Republic: The winter season will bring north swells with waves ranging between head high and double overhead on a very consistent basis. The other option is to do a strike surf mission to the north coast the moment a hurricane goes well north of the DR, this will produce good surfing conditions for 4-5 days.

Winter swells

Where our swell comes from & How it is formed

The Caribbean is vast, and its surf spots are spread out among the various islands. They can be organized into the leeward (protected from the wind) and windward (upwind to the east) islands. It’s the general rule of thumb that the windward Caribbean Islands receive much of the same swell that the East Coast of the United States receives (North Atlantic), with the added bonus that there is no large continental shelf inhibiting the swell before it reaches the islands.

The leeward islands receive surprisingly powerful north swells that originate in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean and generate surf on the northern coasts of the islands.

Here at Swell Surf Camp, located on the Northern Coast of the Dominican Republic in the beautiful town of Cabarete, we have a variety of surf breaks to give guests of all levels their flawless day in the water. The local breaks work best with a north swell. North swells are most frequent during the late fall and winter months and even into the early spring.

Large North Atlantic swells occur when cold air from North America, usually eastern Canada, travels down and combines with the Gulf Stream (a warm air wind system) and creates a low-pressure system. This low-pressure system produces a large amount of wind which travels over the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico and generates fetch. Fetch is best defined as the area over water that wind blows in a consistent direction resulting in the generation of swell.

This swell travels hundreds of miles over the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic into the Caribbean Sea where it collides with the Dominican coastline’s sandbars and reef systems creating ridable waves on the north coast of the DR. When these systems intensify, they are known as “no’r Easters,” and wreak havoc on the East coast of the United States.

Our Waves

Swell Surf Camp is located on Playa Encuentro, on the Northern Dominican Coast. Playa Encuentro is positioned perfectly to catch North Atlantic swells as they track down the East Coast of the United States. There are a number of surf breaks along Playa Encuentro that will satisfy every level of surfer, from friendly beach breaks to fast, barreling reef breaks.

surfing Caribbean
© copyright

Coco Pipe

On a proper north swell, usually during the winter, Coco Pipe will go off. There is a left and a right, however, the left is pretty short. The right, on the other hand, can produce picturesque barrels. This wave is not for beginners. It has a shallow reef bottom and a fast, critical drop in.

The Left

As its name will tell you, The Left is a long, dreamy left-hander that peels far down the beach. Like Coco Pipe, The Left breaks fairly shallow, meaning it is not for beginners.

Main Peak

longboarding cabarete
Main peak at Encuentro in summer

The main peak at Playa Encuentro offers a left and a right. The right is mellow and skatey, perfect for practicing turns. This wave is ideal for intermediates and experts.


Bobo’s offers lefts and rights with some barreling potential. The inside waves at Bobo’s offer are ideal for beginner surfers. Our learn to surf camp lessons will begin at Bobo’s.



Fast, shallow, and hollow, Destroyer’s is popular amongst body borders and daring expert surfers. Destroyer’s works best during the winter months on a large, north swell.

Other Nearby Breaks

El Canal

hurricane waves
Surfing El Canal

While it is difficult to access and requires a long walk to reach it, the wave at El Canal offers a great left that works well during winter north swells.


El Mañanero

A friendly beach break that works well during summer mornings before the winds kick in.

Playa Grande

As its name suggests, Playa Grande is a large stretch of beach offering multiple peaks. Playa Grande is best during the winter months.


One of the best waves on the island ( in fact one of the best waves in the Caribbean) however its not super consistent, it’s needs specific north swells to really start working well. When it’s good, expect a great barreling left over reef, and a shorter right. Surfers need to be confident in powerful reef breaks before paddling out here.

El Barco

Offers a quality right-hander but is known for its powerful riptide and currents. Not beginner friendly.



If you found this article interesting and want to  start planning your Caribbean surf trip, then have a look at our extensive Dominican Republic Surf Travel Guide. 

Or if you are interested in join Swelll for a unique adventure holiday, then have a look at our surf packages and contact Clare today to reserve your Caribbean surf Holiday with Swell.


Swell offers luxury Surf & Yoga Holidays, but it’s not just surfing and yoga that is on offer; located in the action sport capital of the caribbean is the surf town of Cabarete. In Cabarete you can surf in the morning, learn to kitesurf in the afternoon and finish with a Yoga session at sunset.

Other activities include: Canyoning – Mountain Biking – Horse riding – Diving – Snorkeling – Windsurfing and Stand up Paddle surfing. In short if you are looking for an action packed adventure holiday, then visit us in Cabarete.

Hasta Pronto!

good waves

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SURF ETIQUETTE RULESLearning to surf is far more than starting a new sport and acquiring the skills necessary to compete.

It’s about learning the culture, participating in the lifestyle, and having the time of your life.

However, surfing can be a bit intimidating at times, and even dangerous if done incorrectly.

We’ve all have heard stories of “surf rage” and “locals only” spots, and we’ve all seen gruesome surf injuries.

At Swell Surf Camp, we want you to be well rounded surfers that could fit in at any break in the world at the end of your surf holiday.

In order to maximize the fun, minimize the risks to yourself and others, and progress your abilities on your surf holiday, you must familiarize yourself with

The Golden Rules of Surf Etiquette.


While this may sound a tad condescending, understanding your own abilities in the water and humbly accepting them could save your life. If you’re still learning and you paddle out at an advanced wave, whether that’s a shallow reef break or any break on an overhead day, you run a high risk of injuring yourself and endangering those around you.

When you surf breaks within your ability, you can learn and progress, so that you can eventually surf more advanced breaks. When you learn to surf at Swell Surf Camp, your lessons will always be taught at breaks that reflect your ability.

One of the best things to do when arriving at the beach is to observe the waves for 10-15 minutes to make sure the surf spot is right for your abilities; just because the wave at a certain spot were great yesterday for your ability does not make it safe today.


The most important thing to know when paddling out at a crowded line up is that the paddler yields to the riding surfer.

Meaning that if your paddle trajectory has you colliding with a surfer who is riding down the line of a wave, it is your responsibility to yield to that surfer, not the other way around.

In this example, Pete might be able to get back into position quicker, but he is also potentially getting into the way of the surfers on the wave. You don’t want to slalom through surfers when you are surfing. For safety and courtesy to other surfers, paddle wide of the surfers, back to the line-up, like Jim is doing in the picture.


If paddling wide is not an option, then aim for the white water of the wave, instead of going and aiming for the easier option of the shoulder of the wave ( where the surfer is)



Whether you’re paddling out to a line up with 5 people out from your surf camp or 50 strangers, the rules are the same. Be polite, smile, and say hello. It will bring a feeling of levity to everyone around and it will likely put you in the good graces of local surfers.


priority surf etiquetteNo, you’re not surfing a WSL heat, but priority still exists at every surf break. To put it simply, the surfer closest to the peak of the wave has priority over the surfer who is farther from the peak or on the shoulder. Understanding priority is key to existing peacefully in a crowded lineup.

  • The surfer who is closest to the curl, the peak or the breaking part of the wave has the right of way and priority over all other surfers;
  • The surfer who is farther outside and away from the shore has priority over all other surfers sitting or paddling on the inside, even if closer to breaking part of the wave; (This rules is often ‘abused’ by stand up paddle surfers, since they can pick the waves up further outside than regular surfers, if they get too greedy catching all the set waves, the Paddle boarder can expect the stink eye or aggro vibes from the rest of the line up)


surfer etiquetteThis may seem like a no-brainer, but it happens often. A surfer is riding down the line when all of the sudden, another surfer appears on the wave and tries to hop to their feet.

Dropping in on other surfers is what usually leads to conflict in the surf world, thankfully it’s easily avoidable. It starts with understanding priority, if someone inside of you is paddling for a wave, then you shouldn’t even try to paddle for it.

Awareness plays a role as well, even if you don’t see anyone near you paddling for a wave, as you paddle look to your left and right to ensure no one is riding down the line that might have dropped on at another peak.

Being a snake – ‘snaking’

Being a snake, dropping in on others, aggressively jockeying for position in the lineup, or any other act of being a wave hog is considered rude. When you paddle out don’t immediately paddle outside past everyone else and try to get the first wave that comes in. Wait for a few waves to break first. Before you know it, the lineup will have been shuffled around a little bit and you will be in position for a wave. Just because you can catch all of the waves doesn’t mean you should (this applies especially to longboarders and stand up paddlers).



When a wave breaks both left and right, two surfers can happily ride the same wave, just make sure to communicate by announcing if you’re going right or left, even if you think it’s obvious. A little communication in the water can do a lot to keep everyone safe and having fun.


Just because you can catch every wave, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re on a large foam board or longboard that catches waves easily, it doesn’t mean you always get to take the wave from the shortboard next to you that’s looking to practice turns and airs. Always keep in mind that the ocean is for everyone and act accordingly.


don't let go of surfboardMost surf injuries are not caused by the seafloor, other surfs, or wildlife, they are caused by surfboards. Surfboards are rock solid and have sharp fins, they can do some serious damage.

To avoid unnecessary injury to yourself and anyone else around you, be responsible with your board. Don’t just let go of your board when there are other surfers around you. ( in fact unless you are surfing 20′ waves, don’t ever let go of your board)

That means using a leash, not abandoning your board during your paddle out or after a wipeout. If your board is near you and you have a tight grip on the leash, or your board is under you, it won’t hurt you or any other surfer in the water.


This is a crucial step for surfers of any level, but it is often skipped. If you’re about to surf at a new break, take a while to watch the waves. Notice where they are breaking, where the channels are, and what the current / rip tide is doing. If you can, take it a step further by asking another surfer about the spot.

Chances are, they will be helpful and tell you where to paddle out, where the peaks are, and more! At Swell, we teach you everything you need to know about our local break before we paddle out ( including Surf Etiquette)


This one is obvious. Don’t litter, don’t’ leave anything behind. Pack in and pack out. You can even take it a step further and pick up any litter you might encounter. We love our local surf beach, and we do everything we can to keep it beautiful.


We get it, accidents happen. You messed up, and that’s okay, as long as you apologize. It may seem trivial but making amends and making your intentions clear go a long way in a crowded lineup.


Lastly, if someone else in the water wrongs you, if they burn you, drop in on you, or send a board flying at you, forgive and forget. No one likes to surf mad, and no one wants to be around an angry person.



Be Aware. Laird Hamilton recalls, “I got run over by a guy when I was sixteen and he broke my leg. A guy ran me over with a giant longboard, and it compounded my leg, and that was one of those things that you learn, like, ’Don’t trust that the guy sees you and that they’re going to avoid you.’ Just remember that they’re probably going to run you over if you don’t watch where you’re going.”

Be Decisive. “I think the biggest mistake any beginner makes is hesitation,” says Laird. “You need to be deliberate with your actions, and if you’re going to paddle out of the way, just paddle and keep paddling. I think a real common mistake is people being indecisive in their movements, whether it’s trying to catch the wave or get out of the way.”



The above surf etiquette rules all apply for our local surf spots. At Encuentro there are 2 other rules that any traveling surfer should be aware off:

  • No Stand Up Paddle surfing (SUP) at Playa Encuentro

There are numerous off shore reefs that are ideal for Stand up paddle surfing, in and around Cabarete, so there’s no need to bring a dangerous SUP board & paddle into a lineup where there are kids and learners. Find the open spaces up and down the coast. This also applies to the new sport of foiling. Too dangerous to other surfers at our local surf spot.

  • No motorized watercrafts at Playa Encuentro.

No JetSki’s anywhere near Playa Encuentro, they are noisy, smelly and dangerous to the other surfers.


Surfing is more than just a sport, it becomes ingrained in us the moment we catch our first wave. In order to enjoy surfing to its fullest potential, stay safe in the water, and share it with others, we must stick to The Golden Rules of Surf Etiquette. We have travelled to a lot of different countries and have seen 1000’s of different surf spots & one of the things that really makes our local surfing beach stand out is the mellow & friendly vibe between locals, expats and visiting surfers.

Let’s keep it that way, let’s all stick to the surf etiquette, so we can all leave the water after a surf session with a big smile on our faces.

More info:
Surfing at Playa Encuentro with Swell’s Romy

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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?’ Because of this, we have just completed our 2nd Surf hotel, Swell Bali

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.   Bingin village is the location we chose to build our new Bali Surf Hotel.  Bingin is one of the best waves in Bali at low tide, but at higher tides is an ideal place to learn to surf or to get those smaller green waves intermediate surfers love.


    • 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

More info in available here:  surfing in Bali

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

Swell offers full surf packages holidays


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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

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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

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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 & Yoa 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

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