It may not come as a surprise that there are some incredible places to go surfing in the Caribbean. After all, the region is known for its tropical temperatures, sandy beaches, and warm, clear water.
On many islands, it’s easy to get on a board, even if you only have a few hours to spare. Many of the best places for surfing in the Caribbean are suitable for beginners, sometimes in water no more than three or four feet deep. Most surf schools can teach you the basics in under half an hour.
Ride the waves at one of these islands with the best surfing in the Caribbean.
Barbados is perhaps best known for its relaxed blend of English-meets-Caribbean atmosphere. There’s plenty to do in Barbados, from trekking tours through the dark, waterlogged caverns of Harrison’s Cave to searching for the highly endangered green monkey. But if you’re into watersports, head to Bathsheba Beach. Surfers the world over know that it’s one of the best places for surfing in the Caribbean.
Surfing is one of the best things to do in the Caribbean, and Bathsheba Beach is perfect for experienced surfers, or at least surfers who don’t mind learning on big waves. There are a few dozen surf breaks here, the most famous of which is called the Soup Bowl. If you show up and the waves look too intimidating, you can grab a cold drink and a snack from a nearby vendor, find a spot on the sand, and watch the experts make surfing look easy.
If you’re looking for calmer waters, head instead to Dover Beach, one of the best places for beginners to surf in the Caribbean. You’ll find more than a few highly regarded surf schools that Barbados is known for, offering beginner and intermediate lessons as well as surfboard rentals.
The waves here can be as low as two feet or as high as six, so if you’re worried about finding the tiniest waves possible to learn on, book a lesson. That way, the school can drive you to the best spots to learn how to surf depending on that day’s wind and ocean conditions.
A final option for surfing on the island is Crane Beach, one of the best beaches in Barbados. The swells are best in the summer and early fall, but the current can be strong, so it’s best for strong swimmers and experienced surfers. If you get there and the current is too strong for much beyond boogie boarding, just walk to nearby Foul Bay Beach or grab a beachside cocktail at the nearby resort.
It’s hard to find an island more beautiful than St. Kitts, with its lush scenery, perfect beaches, and an imposing volcano that dominates the landscape. Surfers who visit this island paradise generally head to Frigate Bay.
The waves are usually in the two- to four-foot range with gentle winds, making it an excellent spot for beginner surfers. Both the north and south sections of the beach have plenty of rental shops and guide companies, so it’s easy to check the surf reports outside the shops to get a sense of the waves that day. You’ll have your choice of surf lessons, from hour-long classes to all-day one-on-one lessons.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite during your surf lesson, head to the southern end of Frigate Bay, where you’ll find dozens of the island’s best restaurants and bars. One of the best things to do in St. Kitts is to spend a whole day here, snorkeling or surfing in the morning, relaxing on the beach in the afternoon, and spending the evening watching the sunset from a beach bar.
If you’re a surfer bound for St. Maarten, spend a morning or two catching a wave at Maho Beach. The beach is most famous for being next to the island’s airport, which means enormous jets fly very close to the beach. In fact, there’s no place in the world where you can stand closer to landing planes, and “skywatchers” have become a considerable part of the beach’s traffic.
The beaches on the west side of the island, including Maho Beach, have waves a bit too large for beginners. However, if you have someone in your group who is a knowledgeable surfer, the rest of the group will have plenty to do. Non-surfers can spend the afternoon at one of the beach bars or walk over to the calm waters of Mullet Bay Pond.
St. Maarten has some of the best surfing in the Caribbean for new surfers, too. Plumb Bay is great for beginners, and Galion Beach has different surf breaks for beginners and experts alike.
If you head to Galion, try to spend the whole day there. Some of the best things to do in St. Maarten include taking surfing or windsurfing lessons, walking through the colorful Les Fermes de Papillon (Butterfly Farm), visiting the natural history museum in the Old House, or heading out on a boat tour from sandy Orient Beach.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Ready to hang ten in the British Virgin Islands? If so, head to one of the best beaches for surfing in the Caribbean, Cane Garden Bay. It’s one of the island’s busiest beaches, probably because it offers such a wide variety of activities like kayaking, snorkeling, boat tours, and surfing.
The waves here are largest in December, so if you’re visiting any other time of year, expect small swells—it’s a great place for beginners to dip their toes in the water. Waves are usually no more than a few feet high, the water’s warm, and the shallow bottom is soft and sandy.
When you’re ready to celebrate your newfound surf skills, you’ll have plenty of nearby options. Take it easy on the beach with a beach chair and umbrella rental, or head to the nearby Callwood Rum Distillery to taste island-made rum.
Aruba is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Perhaps that’s why locals and visitors alike use the same slogan when describing it: one happy island. Some of the happiest people on the island are Aruba’s surfers, who have their choice of spots to catch a wave.
One of the best beaches in Aruba for surfing is Palm Beach, a fantastic spot for beginner surfers. There are several surf and paddle shops along the two-mile stretch, so you’ll have plenty of options for rentals or lessons. Though the sandy shores are mostly undeveloped, you’ll find everything from boat tour companies to laid-back cocktail bars and award-winning restaurants just across the street.
At Palm Beach, surfers can expect one- to two-foot waves on most days, though they could be a little bigger in the winter when swells are larger. The water is usually warm, though you might want to rent a wetsuit from an area shop if you’re spending all day in the water.
Read: The Best Food in Aruba
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
You can’t talk about surfing in the Caribbean without mentioning St. Thomas and, specifically, Hull Bay Beach. You can almost always count on finding surfable small to medium waves here, with very obvious surf breaks. It’s best for people who have stood on a board before or are at least strong swimmers since the surf breaks tend to be a bit far offshore—prepare for a lot of paddling.
Hull Bay is an uncrowded stretch of sand with basic beach facilities and a handful of restaurants serving authentic Virgin Island food. You’ll likely be paddling out next to people who have been here plenty of times at this local’s beach.
Keep in mind that the bottom is rocky in places, so you may want to wear water shoes. The flip side of that is that the rocks create a perfect habitat for fish and sea creatures, offering some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean in case you want to take a break from surfing.
Antigua may not be as well known as islands like Aruba or Barbados, but the island is home to some of the best surfing in the Caribbean—as well as some of the best kitesurfing, windsurfing, boogie boarding, and bodyboarding, too.
If you’re anxious to catch a wave, head to Half Moon Bay, one of the best beaches in Antigua. It’s on the island’s eastern (windward) side, so the waves and currents are consistent. Though Half Moon Bay is the most famous bay in the area, the nearby shoreline is dotted with bays in both directions, so there are plenty of places to surf. Some of the bays have steep drop-offs that create larger waves, while some have natural rock barriers that keep the waves small and slow.
Consider stopping by one of the many surf shops in the St. John’s area to explore your options for lessons. Almost all shops include transportation as part of the class, and the shop pros will know exactly where to take you for the perfect waves on any given day.
When it comes to surfing, the most important thing is to have a good attitude and come prepared to endure a few falls. Fortunately, when you’re surfing in the Caribbean, those falls are in warm, sparkling blue water.
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