Recently I had been asked for the best places to surf in the Caribbean for a family holiday so I thought I would share my findings with you now.
Cabarete- Dominican Republic
Cabarete is a resort town on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast. Cabarete Bay is protected by a coral reef. The calm waters, combined with breezy conditions on beaches like Cabarete and Kite, make it a centre for water sports. North along the coast, Encuentro Beach is known for its surf breaks. Restaurants and bars cluster along Calle Principal, the town’s main street, near the waterfront.
Just south of town, sprawling El Choco National Park is rich in birdlife, and features cave systems and jungle trails. Mountain-biking routes also wind through the park. To the west, Sosúa is a snorkeling and scuba-diving destination. In nearby mountains, canyoning enthusiasts rappel down waterfalls surrounded by dense vegetation. The “Magic Mushroom” waterfall cascades over a domed rock formation into a natural pool. Other outdoor pursuits in the area include zip-lining, horseback riding and stand-up paddle boarding.
Cabarete has a tropical climate with warm to hot days year-round. A common time to visit is Jan–Apr for the windy conditions that are ideal for kitesurfing and windsurfing. The prime scuba-diving season on the Dominican Republic’s north coast is Jun–Sep, when the waters are at their calmest, increasing visibility. Hurricane season occurs Jun–Nov. The Dominican Republic Jazz Festival (Oct/Nov) features jazz and Latin concerts, plus music workshops.
Rincón- Puerto Rico
Rincón is a town on Puerto Rico’s west coast, known for its beaches. Punta Higuero Lighthouse overlooks Domes Beach, with its pounding surf. Central Sandy Beach is lively. Steps Beach is the site of Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, home to parrotfish and hawksbill turtles. South along the coast are quiet Caribbean beaches like Corcega. Offshore, coral reefs surround tiny Desecheo Island.
Rincón has a tropical climate. The most popular time to visit is spring to summer (Mar–Aug). The Atlantic waters are calmer Apr–Oct. Strong waves attract surfers in winter (Nov–Mar). The Festival de Patronales (Aug) celebrates the city’s patron saint, Santa Rosa de Lima, with religious processions and live music. Humpback whales can often be spotted offshore Jan–Mar.
Eleuthera refers both to a single island in the archipelagic state of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to its associated group of smaller islands. Eleuthera forms a part of the Great Bahama Bank. The island of Eleuthera incorporates the smaller Harbour Island. “Eleuthera” derives from the feminine Greek adjective ἐλεύθερος, meaning “free”. Known in the 17th century as Cigateo, it lies 80 km east of Nassau. It is long and thin—180 km long and in places little more than 1.6 km wide. Its eastern side faces the Atlantic Ocean, and its western side faces the Great Bahama Bank. The topography of the island varies from wide rolling pink sand beaches to large outcrops of ancient coral reefs, and its population is approximately 11,000. The principal economy of the island is tourism.
Bathsheba is the main fishing village in the parish of Saint Joseph with some 5,000 inhabitants on the east coastline of Barbados. The town has a number of quaint churches; Saint Joseph Anglican Church was built on Horse Hill in the town as early as 1640 but was rebuilt in 1839 following a hurricane in 1831. Little Saint Joseph chapel was built nearby in 1837 but was restored and dedicated to Saint Aiden in 1904 following a landslide. It has a number of attractions including the Flower Forest and Cotton Tower which is renowned for its dramatic scenery and views of Scotland District. The ecologically rich Joe’s River Tropical Rainforest is located on the outskirts of the town with some 85 acres of woodland and rainforest with giant ficus, citrifolia, fid woods, white woods, cabbage palm trees and mahogany trees. Bathsheba beach is known as the Soup Bowl where local and international surfing competitions take place annually. Another notable feature of Bathsheba beach is the large boulder that sits slightly offshore, known by some as Bathsheba Rock.
Isabela- Puerto Rico
Isabela is a region on Puerto Rico’s northwest coast. To the west, Jobos Beach has a sheltered cove opening up to more powerful surf. Nearby, Shacks Beach has underwater caves and coral reefs. To the east, the abandoned Guajataca Tunnel leads to the rugged coastline of Guajataca Beach. Inland, forest trails in the Bosque Estatal de Guajataca lead to Cueva del Viento, a cave filled with limestone formations.
Isabela is a year-round destination with a tropical climate. The Fiestas Patronales de San Antonio de Padua (Jun) celebrates the region’s patron saint with colourful parades, music and dancing. Fiesta de Reyes Isabelinos (Jan) marks the end of the Christmas season with traditional food and carols
Antigua is one of the 2 major islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Ringed with coral reefs, the island is known for its many sandy beaches. Set along English Harbour, restored Nelson’s Dockyard, which Admiral Horatio Nelson made his base in the 1780s, includes a marina and the Dockyard Museum. Trails lead up to Shirley Heights, a former military lookout with panoramic views.
On the northwest coast, capital city St. John’s is a cruise-ship port. The baroque-style St. John’s Cathedral has twin towers. Geological exhibits and historical artefacts at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda trace the history of the islands. The Antigua Recreation Ground hosts cricket matches. On the east coast, Stingray City offers encounters with southern stingrays in a shallow water. Nearby, rocky Indian Town National Park has natural blowholes and the limestone Devil’s Bridge, sculpted by the waves. Inland, former sugar plantation Betty’s Hope is now an open-air museum that includes 2 windmills.
Antigua is a year-round destination. Temperatures are usually warm, and the hottest months are Jun–Oct. The driest time is Feb–Apr. Beach and diving holidays are popular Dec–Mar. The local hurricane season is Jun–Nov, and there may be tropical storms during this period. Antigua Sailing Week (Apr–May) includes races, plus parties and events in English Harbour. The annual Antigua Carnival (Jul–Aug) features parties, parades and live music all around the island.
Las Terrenas- Dominican Republic
Las Terrenas is a resort town on the Samaná Peninsula, in the northeastern part of the Dominican Republic. It’s known for central Las Terrenas Beach. Other beaches include Bonita, Cosón and Las Ballenas. Cays off the coast feature underwater caverns like Dudu cave. Bars and restaurants, many with open-air seating, line the strip of Pueblo de los Pescadores near the water.
Las Terrenas has a tropical climate, with mostly hot days year-round. A popular time to visit is Jan–May. The prime scuba-diving season on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast is Jun–Sep when the waters are at their calmest, increasing visibility. Hurricane season is Jun–Nov.
St. John- Virgin Island
St. John is the smallest of the 3 U.S. Virgin Islands, which are located in the Caribbean Sea. Virgin Islands National Park occupies more than half the island. Its forests shelter resident and migratory birds, including cuckoos, warblers and hummingbirds. The mangroves at Hurricane Hole, in the east, support corals and anemones. Dolphins inhabit the island’s waters, which also host hawksbill and green turtles.
The island is renowned for its snorkeling sites, and has an underwater trail at Trunk Bay, in the northwest. At nearby Cinnamon Bay, once the site of a colonial estate, ongoing archaeological excavation has uncovered pre-Columbian remains. The ruins of the 18th-century Annaberg Sugar Plantation include a windmill tower and former living quarters for slaves. The Reef Bay Trail winds through the tropical forest inland, and is dotted with ancient rock art. Near Cruz Bay, the Elaine Ione Sprauve Library and Museum occupies a former plantation house. Its collection of photos, artefacts and documents tells the history of the island.
St. John is a year-round destination with a tropical climate. The St. John Arts Festival (Feb) highlights art, dance, music and crafts. The Folk Life Festival (Feb) celebrates Afro-Caribbean history. Transfer Day (Mar) marks the hand over of the Virgin Islands from Danish to U.S. rule. The St. John Festival (Jun–Jul) is a month-long carnival including a parade, music and food.
Marie-Galante is a dependency island of Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory in the Caribbean. Sugar fields and old windmills dot the island, also known as the “Big Pancake” for its circular shape and flat terrain. Beaches such as La Feuillère are protected by a coral reef system. Château Murat, on the southern coast, is a 19th-century sugar-cane plantation with a windmill, museum and restored buildings.
Roussel-Trianon is another former plantation with a ruined stone windmill. The island’s main town, Grand-Bourg, is home to the Église de l’Immaculé-Conception, a church with a vaulted blue ceiling. Yachts dock at the port of Saint-Louis, a fishing village on the west coast. To the north, kayaking is possible around the mangroves on the Vieux Fort River. At the northern tip of the island, the sea enters the Gueule Grand Gouffre cove through a large natural arch. Distilleries on the island sell locally produced rum. Popular activities include hiking, cycling, diving, surfing and tours on traditional ox carts.
Marie-Galante has a tropical climate with warm weather year-round. Common times to visit are Jan–Mar and Jul–Aug. Hurricane season is Jun–Nov. Carnival kicks off at the beginning of the year (Jan) and lasts until Ash Wednesday (Feb/Mar). Guadarun (Apr) is a foot race that takes place across Marie-Galante and other Guadeloupe islands. Terre de Blues (May/Jun) is a major music festival featuring international performers.