If you live on the East Coast, you probably already know that Puerto Rico has killer surf in the winter. You go, your friends go, their friends go, pretty much everyone’s friends go. But what you might not know is that PR starts firing in the Fall and that’s when to get it good with less wind and way less crowds.
Why the Fall?
The three wave creators for Puerto Rico are tropical storms, nor’easters and cold fronts pushing off the East Coast. The biggest “epic” swells are typically the cold fronts mid-winter when temps plummet 20 degrees in one day. Those hammering NW winds push long period ground swell across the Atlantic and deep water, landing on the NW coast of Puerto Rico. When we say “big” we mean big enough that locals break out guns in the 7’6 to 9’6 range to ride the outer reefs. Legitimately big. But when it gets this big, there are places to “hide” to keep your 6’0 working and in it’s range. Along with the winter swells come the winter Caribbean tradewinds, with windspeeds up to 25+mph. Typically lighter in the morning, these winds crank up around lunch and can tear the surf to shreds in the afternoon. Good for kiters, not so good for surfers.
The Fall lines up for good surf in PR with the first two wave creators – tropical storms and nor’easters, with maybe the first cold fronts coming through as well depending on how late in the Fall you go. What you don’t have in the Fall are the trade winds to blow the surf out. Fall is the lightest wind time of year in PR, with many days capped at single digit wind speeds. You don’t get the macking swell days that you do in January through March, but you do get a ton of good head-high days with no wind and no crowds.
In Puerto Rico, there are different breaks for every ability and surfing style. Surf for rippers on shortboards, to longboard cruisers, to heaving reef breaks. Since the waves are coming out of deep water, they typically have more punch than what you find at home. If you brought every board in your quiver, you could use them all. You can also only bring one board and make it work just by shifting around the coastline as the swells build and dissipate. It’s all there and easily accessible from your home base.
If you live near or can connect through NY, NJ or Florida, Puerto Rico is an easy trip with typically one or two flights to get there. From NY (JFK), NJ (Newark) and Florida (Orlando) there are direct flights on Jet Blue and United Airlines, all 3.5 hours or less. Many other East and West Coast Cities can connect through these airports easily with short layovers. You want to fly into Aguadilla Airport (BQN) on the NW Coast. From here the surf towns of Isabella and Rincon are only 10 minutes and 40 minutes away! This makes a Fall PR Surf Weekend (4-7 days) really easy with a ton of surfing every day you are there. After this summer’s flatness, this is all sounding pretty good right now!
REAL rents two surf apartments in the “Shacks” neighborhood which is right at the beach and only 10 minutes from Aguadilla Airport in Isabella. From these accommodations, you can walk to a righthand reef/pointbreak, as well as drive to 10 other breaks within a 5-15 minute drive circle. These apartments are clean, well furnished, and very comfortable for families or surf friends traveling together. For families, you will score big points because when you’re out surfing all day with the car, your family can still walk to the beach and visit the nearby Villa Montanas Resort with bar, restaurant and spa.
The REAL team has been traveling to Puerto Rico since 1987 and has spent a ton of time in PR surfing, kiting and standup paddleboarding. If you have questions about what gear works there, give us a call, we’d be glad to help. We have everything in stock for winter travel including surfboards, boardbags, fins, leashes, wax, etc. We also ship gear to Puerto Rico which can come in handy if you are down there, break a board and need a replacement on the fly.
The fall window for Puerto Rico surf travel has begun. Give us a ring if you want to get some warm water waves and shake off those Summer flat spell cob webs!