Looking to visit Puerto Rico, exploring the island and its various surf spots along the way? You’re in for a treat. Puerto Rico’s surf scene sprouted naturally from its laid-back culture, warm weather, and range of waves, from two-foot beginner crests to towering swells over coral reefs.
No matter which surfing spots in Puerto Rico catches your attention, just know that October to January is the time to visit for peak waves. If you’d like something a little calmer, any other month will do. These beaches are generally free to the public and open all day, so all you have to worry about is catching the best wave.
Best Spots for Beginners:
Middles Beach in Isabela
When it comes to surfing towns in Puerto Rico, Isabela is both the best for beginners and perhaps the most beautiful. You can expect to see jaw-dropping sea caverns, lush jungle-furred mountains, and water shifting from dark sapphire to bright jade green when you visit. World-class surfing awaits at Middles Beach, a vast stretch of off-white sand, lush vegetation, and patches of wave-breaking rock. A short walk down you can find Pozo Teodoro, an incredible tidal pool carved into the rocky expanse.
Middles Beach offers consistent waves and heavy cross-shore breezes at times. Overall, it’s sunny and remote, and it offers middle-to-big-wave surfing up a wide stretch of shore.
Fun fact: Middles Beach is also the site of the APSPR’s Corona Pro Surf Circuit, but don’t be fooled, it’s a quiet beach most of the year, with no facilities.
Gas Chamber in Aguadilla
This oddly-named beach is one of several picture-worthy surf spots in Punta Borinquen, a five-mile stretch of shoreline in Aguadilla. The city, which is set on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, has the most beaches of any city in the territory (19), all offering different sights and different flavors of surfing. Surfboard rentals, tour groups, and training companies abound, so beginners learning the ropes of surfing are more than welcome. Aguadilla has plenty of other interesting sights as well, like the Punta Borinquen Golf Club and Cerro Gabrero, a town block turned colorful outdoor art gallery.
The beach at Gas Chamber is quiet, relaxed, and perfect for both mild and intense surfing. Gas Chamber is like the lucky fishing spot of surfers. The currents that feed the waves to this shoreline aren’t always there, but when they do appear, expect 20 feet or more. Parking is free and the beach is easy to get to. Just go to the right of the dock and you’re there.
Fun fact: The beach is named for the low-cresting, tubular shorebreak waves that appear in the shallow waters.
Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla
We just couldn’t turn away from Aguadilla, so here’s its most famous beach. Crash Boat, near Gas Chamber, is known for strong surf and is an excellent spot for experienced surfers and thrill-seekers. The beach earned its name from what you’d expect: boats crashed into the long, forked dock, the beach’s most distinguishing feature from a bird’s eye view. Local currents have pushed so much sand forward up the breaker zone that the water is shallow for a long way out, so it’s not suitable for anything but the lightest and smallest of fishing boats.
For beginners and intermediate surfers, this is a very strong choice. While the surfing isn’t crazy or consistent, it’s so gorgeous of a spot, you might as well see it all from atop your board. Like most popular beaches in Puerto Rico, you can beat the crowds and enjoy the beach entirely by yourself if you visit before 10:00 a.m. or so.
Fun fact: If it’s on the way, stop by Pozo de Jacinto, a roofless shoreline cave that shoots water like a geyser.
Best Spots for Expert Surfers
Playa Domes in Rincón
You can’t talk about surfing in Puerto Rico without hearing about Rincón, the most well-known surfer paradise on the island. This northwest town even has a statue of a surfer in the center. You’ll find no shortage of surf shops, coaches offering surf lessons, and other businesses that are friendly to the wave-riding crowd, and it’s a nice place to hang out, enjoying the nature and relaxed vibe.
Out of the many beaches in Rincón that draw surfers from around the world, the big fish is Playa Domes. With towering surges and a calm and tropical atmosphere, this is the place to be for any passionate surfer in Puerto Rico. It even hosts international competitions, drawing pros from around the world during peak season. The beach has some amazing sights below the waves and is popular with snorkelers as well. The only downside is its popularity. If you want a quieter experience, or aren’t looking to practice big-wave surfing, try to avoid the busy winter season.
Fun fact: From here you can get a view of the BONUS nuclear superheating reactor, which is fully decommissioned and a U.S. registered historic place as of 2007.
La Ocho in San Juan
Beaches are one thing, but every surfer needs a secret spot, one little chunk of beach that’s out of the way and dedicated to experienced surfers. Escambrón Beach, near La Ocho Surf Shop, has the most gorgeous gradient of shallow water, from light yellow to green to deeper blues the farther you go. With its palm trees and wild sandbar-driven crests in the distance, Escambrón Beach has the perfect tourist appeal. A little too perfect. Where do you go to escape the swimmers and hit up some real waves?
Enter La Ocho, the peak surfer spot of this treasured shore. You’ll have to paddle a way out for a few minutes, but the spot’s currents offer consistent waves. If what matters the most to you is not the beach itself, but the water and how crowded or empty it is, La Ocho will be an ideal surf spot for you. After all, the water is where the magic happens. What’s more, the eponymous shop has everything you might need, from board rentals to wax and replacement fins.
Fun fact: This is said to be the first surf spot in San Juan, but it grew less popular as more beaches got developed into resorts. All the more waves for you.
Tres Palmas in Rincón
You’ll find some pretty sweet swells on a good day in Tres Palmas, a protected natural area and part of the wildlife preserve of the same name. Somewhat off the beaten path, this quiet, lesser-known beach is like a local haunt for professional surfers. Like every beach in Puerto Rico, parking is free and beach access is quick and easy.
As for the waves, they’re consistently big, and they hold for a long time over a semi-shallow reef, so beginners might want to use caution. Tres Palmas is a real board-breaker, making it a good place to improve your surfing endurance. If you’re up for a challenge, it’s a good alternative to Playa Domas.
Fun fact: The water here is super clear. If you lose something in the shallows, you may still find it!
All told, Puerto Rico is a great Caribbean surfing destination, with both the right climate and shoreline variety plus a thriving scene of surf stores and teachers. You can have an awesome day of surfing no matter which of these beautiful beaches you visit.