A pretty quick flight from the East Coast. If you're in California and you want to surf Puerto Rico, fly to Miami first. For where to fly into Puerto Rico, fly into Aguadilla Airport, on the northwest corner. There are more areas to surf Puerto Rico there.
With its crystal blue water, gentle winds, green palms, and white sand beaches, and hundreds of reefs, points and beaches, it’s almost surprising that surfing didn’t really start in Puerto Rico until the late ’50s.
Most all surf spots in Puerto Rico have a cadre of local and expat surfers — and bodyboarders — who are on it when conditions are good and/or on weekends and holidays. The only chance you’ll be surfing alone is if you find an out-of-the-way spot, of which there are many and some quite good.
WARNING: Before you surf Puerto Rico, be aware of these things – Sea urchins, sharp, shallow reef, jellyfish and strong currents are the most common threats. There’s “pichu-pichu”, like sea lice that pinches your skin and can cause a rash all over your body.
What each season is like to surf Puerto Rico
Time to get your quiver ready. Steady North Atlantic storms start kicking into gear in late September; the super-deep Puerto Rican trench amplifies the resulting north swells, which brings consistent — not giant — surf to the North Shore of the Atlantic.
This is when surfers from all over the world (though mainly East Coasters) make their pilgrimage to the juice. November through February sees a near constant string of low-pressure systems off the Eastern Seaboard, most of which generate waves to surf Puerto Rico. This is the time when waves are the largest.
This can be a time for the offshore winds. It’s a time of transition, and while swells aren’t as strong as they are in the winter, they can get consistent and fun. Expect the waves to get in the shoulder to head range with the occasional overhead swell, even into May.
July-November is hurricane season. Water temps reach their highest. Most people are just hanging out on the beach and catching random waves here and there.
Best beginner spots to surf Puerto Rico
Middles Beach in Isabela
When it comes to surfing towns in Puerto Rico, Isabela is both the best for beginners. It's also really beautiful. You can expect to see jaw-dropping sea caverns, lush jungle covered mountains, and water colors in the dark blue and green realm.
Middles Beach is a large stretch of sand, lush greenery, and rock. 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.
Gas Chamber in Aguadilla
This strangly-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, all offering different sights and different flavors of surfing. Rent foam surfboards, join a 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 to surf Puerto Rico.
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, surfing schools, 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 large surges and a calm and tropical atmosphere, this is the place to be for any experienced surfer in Puerto Rico. Typically the site of surf competitions. The beach has some snorkeling. If you want a quieter experience, or aren't interested in big wave surfing, avoid the winter season.
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
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.
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 colorful shallow water, from green to deeper blues the further you are. With its palm trees in the distance, Escambrón Beach has the ideal qualities to surf Puerto Rico.
The peak in La Ocho is a short paddle out for a few minutes. You'll find 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.
Tres Palmas in Rincón
For advanced and experienced surfers, you'll find great waves depending on the conditions in Tres Palmas. This is a protected natural habitat which is part of a wildlife preserve. Somewhat hidden, this quiet, lesser-known beach frequented by professional surfers. Like every beach in Puerto Rico, parking is free and beach access is quick and easy.
The waves are consistently big. As a beginner, beware. As the waves break over a shallow reef. 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.
The water here is super clear. If you lose something in the shallows, you may still find it!
Final thought on where to surf Puerto Rico
Discovering where to surf Puerto Rico is a great Caribbean surfing adventure. With a nice variety of surf spots paired with the conveniences of surf shops, restaurants, and beautiful scenery, you can have an awesome day of surfing no matter where you go to surf Puerto Rico.