The Dominican Republic is one of those places that the general surfing public hasn’t exactly found yet. Sure, it’s on the radar, but with 300 miles of pristine coastline exposed to anything the North Atlantic can throw at it, the D.R.’s incredible amount of reefs, bays, river mouths, and headlands have more waves than surfers know what to do with.
After Cuba, the Dominican Republic is the largest nation in the Caribbean. Comprised of nearly 20,000 square miles, the island nation sits midway between the top of South America and the bottom of North America on an island called Hispaniola, which is part of the Greater Antilles archipelago – one of the most beautiful places in the entire region.
On the Amber coast sit two towns, Sosua and Cabarete, both a wonderful mix of European and classic Dominican culture. Because of Columbus’s landing back in 1492, the D.R. turned into the first real European stronghold in the Americas. Then, after centuries of visitors who came (and stayed) for the perfect weather and postcard beauty, it turned into a veritable goldmine of everything perfect for surf travel: amazing food, amazing night life, amazing culture, and even more amazing surfing.
In between Sosua and Cabarete lies the country’s most popular surf spot, Playa Encuentro. A consistent wave that’s close to the airport, it’s a long, isolated stretch of white sand and a variety of waves, including hollow, powerful reef breaks and sloping, slower waves. Nearly all of them work best on some variety of north or east swell.
As the north and northeast swells begin to light up the area in October, the nor’easters send swell south, pummeling the D.R. for weeks at a time. It’s not uncommon to spend a full week looking at firing, overhead waves. From May through September, the waves might not be as big, but they’re just as fun. While these months aren’t necessarily considered “surf season,” the crowds (if you can call them that) are nearly non-existent. In the summer months, from July through September, passing hurricanes suck out all the wind and fire swell into the area for months on end. Day after day of sheet-glass conditions grace the area.
But the real draw to the area lies a little off the beaten path. The outlying waves in the Dominican Republic are the stuff magazines are made of: empty, pristine, and difficult to get to… unless you’re rolling with a good guide. D.R. Surf Tours, along with ex-pat legend Allan Landgren, can put you in the right spot at the right time. Landgren knows the area better than the back of his hand, which means more time in the best waves for you. D.R. Surf Tours has an eight guest maximum, so you’re not going to be surfing shoulder to shoulder with a pack of ravenous, slathering hasslers – you’re going to be stroking into empty waves with only a few other people, which is exactly what a surf trip should consist of.
D.R. Surf Tours is one of those places that understand that empty and perfect is what keeps people coming back, so they’ve set up their business to have staying power. Each group is set up with a vehicle, a guide who knows almost everything there is to know about the area, and all the waves the guide can sniff out, from sun up to sun down.
Because of the Dominican’s location, it gets waves all year around. From shifting sandbars with wedgy peaks to sharp, fast reef breaks, you’ll find what you’re looking for. August through October sees hurricane swells banging into the coastline, sometimes back-to-back, barely giving the traveler time to breathe between swells. The storms in the Atlantic that push waves towards the island nation are usually somewhere in the vicinity of 1000-3000 miles away, making for powerful, short period waves.
A big part of a successful surf trip relies on more than just waves – you can score the best waves of your life, but if you’re sick, hungry, and sleeping in a cockroach-infested shack, you probably aren’t going to leave with the fondest memories. D.R. Surf Tours has your back. In a private gated community, Perla Marina sits a half-mile away from the ocean. When you’re done throwing your hundredth off the lip of the day, they offer a spa, yoga, and home cooked meals in a dining area kept cool by the shade and the ocean breeze.
While the Dominican Republic may be on surfing’s radar, it’s sure to quickly become a staple in the wave-hungry diet of surfers around the world very soon. With all the perfection it offers, it’s a no-brainer – so you may as well score it right now, while it’s still the home of one of the greatest surf trips you’ll ever go on.