At Swell we want to make sure our clients get the best surf experience possible, and the best way to guarantee this is by having top staff work for us. Last year Ricci was at Swell for 3 months, and he left a great impression on the clients and the rest of our staff. Because Ricci had commitements in Europe as a Snowboard instructor & guide in the Alps he had to leave us for a season in the snow.
Ricci was keen to come back to Swell, and we are very keen to have him back. for the full 2018 / 2019 winter season.
Alexandra (Alex) is Ricci’s partner and she is the new surf photographer at Swell taking photos of our clients who are interested in the photo packages she offers. And additional bonus is that Alexandra also takes video footage of the clients during their lessons, so after the lessons are done the footage can be played back to analyze where improvements can be made in the surf technique of the clients.
Alexandra has years of experience as an action and lifestyle photographer, and so far the lifestyle and surf photos she has produced are of great quality.
Here are some sample photos of here first few days in Cabarete
As you can see Alexandra is a great photographer, so if you want to have your surf photos taken and a surf video analysis during your stay at Swell, sign up for the photo package and go home with your memories in HD photo format.
OTHER SWELL NEWS
Normally when one surf instructor arrives another instructor leaves, this winter we have deceided to change this, since it’s looking like it’s going to be a very busy winter season for us here in the Caribbean. As a result Lee, our lovely English surf instructor has decided to stay on for the rest of our high season.
So our team for the winter season 2019 is:
Lee (english) – Surf Instructor
Ricci (Italian) – Surf Instructor
Neno (Dominican) – Surf Instructor
Jeffrey (Dominican) – Surf Instructor
Alexandra (French) – Surf photographer
So if you are interested in learning to surf, then have a look at the learn to surf courses we offer at Swell and contact us today to secure your surf holiday.
CARIBBEAN SURF HOLIDAY EXPIRIENCE
About Swell: We provide active holidays for adults in the Caribbean. Ideal for solo travelers and couples who are looking for a fun and social vacation.
See our video below.
We hope to see you soon in the Caribbean
Clare & Jeroen Mutsaars
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.
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 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
A friendly beach break that works well during summer mornings before the winds kick in.
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.
Offers a quality right-hander but is known for its powerful riptide and currents. Not beginner friendly.
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.
Learning 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.
1. KNOW YOUR ABILITIES
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.
2. PADDLE OUT WITH CAUTION
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)
3. BE POLITE & SMILE
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.
4. UNDERSTAND PRIORITY
No, 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)
5. DON’T DROP IN ON OTHER SURFERS
This 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.
6. BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR EQUIPMENT
Most 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.
7. KNOW THE BREAK
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)
8. RESPECT THE BREAK & BEACH
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.
9. APOLOGIZE IF YOU MESS UP
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.
10. FORGIVE AND FORGET
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.
TIPS FROM LAIRD HAMILTION
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.
9 Reasons why Cabarete is the ultimate water sport destination in Central America / Caribbean.
There are so many places in the world where you can lie on a sun-soaked beach and do absolutely nothing (if that’s your thing), but where do you go if you want an action-packed, adult sports holiday with a variety of different watersports or land-based sports to choose from, or if you are looking for an adult surf camp?
Cabarete, on the North coast of the Dominican Republic, is your answer: Easy to get to (with direct flights from Europe and North America) and a quick transfer from Puerto Plata (POP) international airport, Cabarete has a huge variety of sporty activities on offer, both water-based and land-based.
WHY CABARETE FOR AN ACTIVE ACTION PACKED VACATION?
Easy, quick travel time: Puerto Plata (POP) international airport is just 25 minutes drive to the centre of Cabarete. (Have a look at this page on how to get to the Dominican Republic)
It’s safe in the Dominican Republic: Friendly and welcoming locals will offer you their hearts for visiting their beautiful island. Tourist Police are on hand in all popular areas to help keep you safe.
So much to do: Unlike Costa Rica where getting around involves some lengthy journeys, Cabarete is reached after a quick journey from North America so the same day as you leave home, you’ll be on beautiful beaches for a great surf vacation. Cabarete itself offers so much to do, all within a very small area; you won’t waste whole days travelling around to see and experience some really diverse scenery. Surfing beaches, kitesurfing, windsurfing, canyoning, horse riding, history, culture and so much more, are all within a few miles of each other.
Fantastic dining choices: Because of the cosmopolitan nature of Cabarete, it is absolutely packed with restaurants with all different cuisines on offer. You can choose from traditional Dominican restaurants, Sushi, stone-baked pizzas made by Italians, Mexican restaurants, lobster and fresh fish on the beach, stylish French Bistros, high-end, ocean-side romantic meals and simple street food. Vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian choices are all on offer. It’s impossible to go hungry in Cabarete! ( have a look at the restaruants in Cabarete)
Great Nightlife: Once the beachside dining is over, tables and chairs are put away and Cabarete beach becomes the ultimate party venue. You can dance beneath the palm trees with your bare feet in the sand. Taking part in the party is not mandatory of course; with a short walk, you can make your way back to a surf camp like Swell for a more peaceful end to the day.
Culture; The Dominican Republic is one of the islands discovered by Christopher Columbus in the late 1400’s. Close to Cabarete is the historic town of Puerto Plata, with its ancient fort dating from 1564 and built by King Felipe II of Spain. The town has many old and restored timber buildings, reminiscent of those you might see in old Havana, for example.
Music: To the Dominican people, music is not just a hobby, it’s a way of life. There are so many music festivals throughout the year that there will normally be something going on during your visit. Cabarete hosts part of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival (opens a new window) each November (in 2018, it’s November 3rd and 4th). Merengue, Bachata, Salves and Palo are all traditional Dominican music genres, but you’ll also hear Reggaeton, Jazz, Rock and Hip Hop. Dancing is as popular as the music danced to and there are many places in Cabarete where you can take dance lessons from the most natural movers on the planet.
Beautiful Beaches: Light sandy beaches and turquoise water abound. You can set off to find your own deserted cove between Cabarete bay and Encuentro, or stick to one of the more expansive sandy bays. Visit places like Playa Grande for the day for a fish BBQ on the beach.
It offers good value: On average surf camps in Costa Rica are 50-70% more expensive than similar surf camps and surf hotels in Cabarete
THE WATER SPORTS ON OFFER IN CABARETE
LEARN TO SURF
Cabarete has the most ideal and consistent beginner surf conditions anywhere in the world. With warm water year round and ideal wave conditions for getting your first rides on a surfboard, Swell surf camp in the centre of Cabarete is one of the best adult surf camps in the world for beginner surfers.
How long does it take to learn to surf?
You should give yourself a week at a surf camp like Swell Cabarete Surf Retreat to be able to master your pop up and to start to turn the surfboard to ride along the wave. Completely mastering the art of surfing takes a good deal longer, but an award-winning adult surf camp like Swell will give you the very best start and certainly get you hooked on the incredible feeling of surfing a wave, regardless of your age!
Want to learn to surf and are over 40 – 50 or 60, read this article >>
LEARN TO KITESURF / KITEBOARD
Along 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.
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 AND DIVING
Just 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.
The Dominican Republic is bursting at the seams with mountains and rivers. You may not know but it is home to the highest peak in the Caribbean region, Pico Duarte, which is over 3000m high. These mountains and rivers create some amazing canyons and caves, so beautiful they will take your breath away. Canyoning with Kayak River Adventures is a day trip not to be missed and they have several different tours, with varying degrees of difficulty to choose from for an action-packed exhilarating adventure, exploring some real geological wonders of the world.
WHAT’S ON OFFER AT SWELL SURF CAMP?
Swell has been voted Best Surf Camp in both the Dominican Republic and in the wider Caribbean region and also voted Best Surf Camp for Beginners several times over in the 9 years they have been open.
Swell caters to adults who want to learn to surf in a stylish, fun place. The ‘camp’ (it’s really a stylish boutique surf retreat in Cabarete) was purpose built and the design based on the owner’s many years of surfcamp and surf travel experience.
The owners knew exactly what surfers, novice or beginner surfers wanted; a social place with great accommodation and delicious food, where adult travellers could come, either solo, as a couple or friends, to experience a great surf vacation.
Swell offers surf lessons for its own guests (they won’t give lessons to you if you are not staying at the camp) and has a complete concierge service to organise any or all of the other fun activities on offer in the area. You can contact us via this page.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The North coast of Cabarete has waves 340-350 days of the year, ranging from chest high to overhead. Conditions for learning to surf are year round, advanced and expert surfers are best off in the winter months.
Have a look at the season and when is the best time to visit the Dominican Republic
ABOUT SWELL CABARETE SURF HOTEL
We opened in winter 2009/2010 to create a boutique luxury surf camp experience whilst having the comforts of a surf hotel. Located right in the center of Cabarete, minutes walk from cabarete main beach.
Swell caters for adults who want to learn to surf or kitesurf, and want to improve their surfing & kiteboarding whilst staying at a social and comfortable place with like minded people. Because of the social aspect of our Cabarete surf hotel we are an ideal place to stay for solo travellers that are looking for an active holiday.
WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!
Have a look at the Gallerie below to see what Swell Cabarete Surf Hotel and the sports on offer on the north coast of the Dominican republic
Some days with sizable surf in the overhead + range, but also plenty of days with clean and glassy surf conditions in the 2-3 foot range, ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers at Playa Encuentro
Aaron, our ISA qualified head Surf coach has been taking lots of pictures for our clients, and his picture package (40 USD) is in high demand.
NEW SURF INSTRUCTOR
A new surf instructor has arrived.
A first for Swell: Charlie is the first qualified Surf instructor at Swell from New Zealand.
From the cool surf town of Ragland, he is a superb surfer with year of surf instruction under his belt.
Loves to play his acoustic guitar and is also up for a party in Cabarete once every while.
Here’s some picture of what’s been going on at the #1 Surf Camp in the Caribbean in the month of January
Interested in joining us in the Dominican Republic?
We have some spaces left fro February and March, so if you want to you Swell for an incredible surf holiday, send Clare an email today.