Overview of surfing in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is for east coast surfers what Hawaii is for west coast surfers. This warm water paradise turns on each winter offering a tropical respite from the wind and cold. On top of this it is a US territory which makes travel very easy. Puerto Rico offers not only fantastic surf when it lights up but is also an amazing family, solo traveler, and tourist destination making it an ideal location for a surfers that may be traveling with non surfers (see article here!). In this article we will break down why Puerto Rico should be your next surf trip!
Top Surf Spots
La Ocho is a top reef break in the Northwest of Puerto Rico. It offers a long right and a shorter but intense left. Take care not the touch the coral or the urchins that hide in it, that will cut your surf trip very short. Learn more here!
One of Kelly Slaters favorite waves. I have to say if its good enough for the goat it’s definitely good enough for you, perhaps too good. This wave is shallow, mean, and has a reputation for breaking boards and bodies. Take maximum care if you choose to paddle out here. Learn more here!
Domes is the top point break at Marias Beach. It is usually the biggest and best of the bunch depending on the tide, and holds a localized crowd. If you make friends you might be called into a wave that throws out both performance and barrel sections. Just make sure not to leave any valuables in your car. Learn more here!
There is a wide range of options here. Being a tourist hotspot there are plenty of high class villas and vacation homes to rent and enjoy. There are also many all inclusive resorts if that is more your speed, but they might be a little farther from the surf. There are many cheaper options such as hostels and camping that will be friendly for the budget oriented traveler (read more here).
Region For Surf
The main region for surfing in Puerto Rico is on the Northwest part of the island. This region receives any hint of West to North swell, which are common during the Northern Hemisphere winter. Most of the breaks are either reefs or beach breaks. The reefs tend to be shallow and sharp, but there is a good range of beach breaks for all levels.
The main surf town here is Rincon, which has all surf industry you could want including trendy hostels, surf shops galore, and plenty of laid back culture. Luckily there is also fantastic surf as well.
Access to Surf in Puerto Rico
There are two ways to make it to Puerto Rico, plane and boat. Most will take a plane to the capital and from there rent a car to get to the surf. A boat will most likely take you to the capital and from there the mission is the same. Most spots are easy to get to, a park and a walk. Make sure to pay the nice people “watching” the parking lot to make sure your car stays safe.
The 29 best Surf spots in Puerto Rico
Overview of surfing spots in Puerto Rico
Surf spot overview
Puerto Rico does not have the longest surf history in the world, but the scene is incredibly vibrant, local, and rich. Generally the rules are the same as elsewhere, no bad lineup etiquette etc. There are a few lineups that are considered locals only, but they will let you know. Generally give respect to get respect. Don’t expect set waves and make sure you pay your dues before paddling straight into the middle of the lineup.
Important to Keep in Mind
Some of the best waves that Puerto Rico sees come in the late fall during hurricane season. These destructive storms send waves where they don’t hit. The East Coast and Puerto Rico have a complicated relationship. Hurricanes that hit the Eastern Seaboard head on send amazing waves to the island, like Hurricane Sandy. Storms that hit Puerto Rico head on send incredible surf to the East Coast, such as Hurricane Maria. It is important to remember, and it is easy to see, that these are destructive forces that destroy homes, towns, and lives, even while we as surfers are feasting on the swells generated.
Surf seasons and when to go
The best time of the year to surf in Puerto Rico
Best Seasons For Surf
The best time to travel for surf to Puerto Rico is the winter. November to March sees plenty of energy coming from the Atlantic. This time of year will be geared toward the intermediate and advanced level surfers. Any other time of year will see very minimal swell, although the small windswell will allow beginners to get their feet into the wax!
Puerto Rico surf travel guide
Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle
Weather here is tropical year round, which means you don’t need to think too hard about what to pack. The other upside is that the water is warm year round as well! Boardshorts and bikinis are the dresscode. One thing to make sure to pack is a thin raincoat in case of showers. Getting to Puerto Rico is easy enough. There is a major international airport in the capital San Juan. From there it is best to rent a car or take transportation to the Northwest of the island to start shredding some waves.
Other Than Surfing
For those accompanying avid surfers but seeking alternate adventures, Puerto Rico brims with diverse attractions. El Yunque National Forest, the sole tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, beckons nature enthusiasts with its cascading waterfalls and panoramic views atop its observation towers. History buffs can meander through the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, where pastel-colored colonial buildings and historic fortresses, such as the iconic Castillo San Felipe del Morro, recount tales of yesteryears. Families can explore the bioluminescent bays, like Mosquito Bay in Vieques, where nighttime kayaking offers an ethereal experience with glowing marine life. And for a taste of authentic Puerto Rican flavors, a visit to Piñones or any local “lechonera” promises a delightful culinary journey, with dishes like “mofongo” and roasted pork. Whether you’re indulging in cultural festivities, relaxing on serene beaches, or exploring natural wonders, Puerto Rico ensures a fulfilling experience beyond the surf.
The primary languages spoken in Puerto Rico are Spanish and English, with Spanish being the dominant language for most locals. While you can get by with English in tourist-heavy areas and surf communities, learning a few basic Spanish phrases can go a long way in enhancing your experience. Understanding simple terms like “hola” (hello), “gracias” (thank you), and “ola” (wave) not only shows respect for the local culture but also opens doors to more authentic interactions. And let’s face it—being able to understand the local chatter about upcoming swells can be invaluable for any surfer.
The currency used in Puerto Rico is the U.S. Dollar, making financial transactions seamless for American travelers. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, though having some cash on hand is advisable, especially when visiting remote surf spots or local markets. Budget-wise, Puerto Rico offers a range of options that cater to both shoestring backpackers and luxury-seeking tourists. You can find hostels and surf lodges for around $30-50 per night, while mid-range hotels and boutique accommodations may range from $100-200. Fine-dining establishments and upscale resorts obviously command a premium, but delicious local meals can be enjoyed for under $10 at casual “lechoneras” or beachside food stands.
When it comes to staying connected, Puerto Rico generally offers reliable cell phone coverage and internet access, especially in urban areas and popular tourist destinations. Major U.S. carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile operate on the island, providing good network coverage. Free WiFi can often be found in hotels, cafés, and even some public spaces. However, if you’re planning to explore more secluded surf spots or venture into remote natural reserves, be prepared for spotty or non-existent cell reception. For those in need of consistent connectivity, portable WiFi devices or local SIM cards can be a worthwhile investment.
Puerto Rico lies in your future! The reef breaks, amazing culture, and range of activities for the whole family make it an ideal place for a surf trip. Make sure to try all the local cuisine and enjoy the tropical waves and vibes.