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Magic seed weed

Since I stayed local and didn’t explore further than the nearby spots to where Antonio drove us too I can’t say how many world class waves exist on the country’s north coast. After doing a closer look through Google Earth I’m fully convinced many gem set ups await those seeking perfection. I’ll be back and will be ready to have a bigger look around next time.

I’ve been on my fair share of surf trips to various destinations. Some good some not so good. Most of the trips I experience are with your average Joe surfers except on occasions when shooting my surf films when I’m then in the presence of surfing genius. Simply put most of the time I go on real surf trips with real people who are the majority of the surfing populous, working stiffs saving up money to go on global surf treks.

I met a fun group of people the second night during dinner since my place included breakfast and dinner in the $40US per night bungalow cost. The outdoor, palm thatched roof dining area featured squeeze your own orange juice for breakfast as well as daily breakfast and dinner specials. After everyone fell into a flow of the place the nightly walk to Voy Voy, a local bar, became the thing to do. The motley crew of people in our group came from far and near. Me being the nearest while others came from Belgium, Germany, the UK, Canada, Finland, Norway and California. The stories from all these people kept everyone entertained with African adventures, Indian Ocean surf odysseys, South American motorcycle meltdowns, American drug runs to global surf treks.

After six days of surfing, paddling miles I’m sure, my body was done. My left shoulder and elbow were screaming for rest popping at every opportunity. I usually surf spots where the paddle is long but not hard. Here in Dominican Republic the paddle is hard and long. When I go on surf trips I employ my philosophy of surf smart and don’t over work yourself if you don’t have too. Once again, here in Dominican Republic no matter how smart I was hoping to be I still got a work out. A big one at that.

After doing some research about DR I found several places to stay and the town of Cabarete was closest to where I wanted to be. Ali’s/Cabarete Surf Camp was the only place to complete communication with me and so got the nod for the place to rest my head during my one week stay. The camp’s located about ten to fifteen minutes to the closest breaks and provide a multi time, daily transportation to and from Playa Encuentro, the nearest surf beach. Can’t beat it. Antonio and Elena who take care of all your needs while at the camp help Ali (the man) run this chill vibed place. Antonio once a week takes people to Playa Grande about one hour east of Cabarete to experience and surf the more remote areas of DR.

The days were filled with surfing from about 7 or 9 am depending on how late the previous nights festivities rolled on. Hopefully 7am was the arrival time to the beach. During my first several days the early morning high tide caused the waves to not come together. Somewhere around noon the tide hit the perfect spot for the waves to do their thing. Only thing was, the Trade Winds would pick up around the same time. One day the wind was on it from dawn till after dark. That was photo day. The size of the waves ranged from chest to couple feet over head almost everyday. When the North Swell arrived things looked up. Barrels everywhere. One guy came in with a five stringer gunnish longboard snapped in half. Yeah it was a rush. I picked off a couple on my 9-0. Surfed it hard got some fun off the tops and what not. Was stoked to do so as I’m usually sliding causally on my big boy single fin back home in Florida. The walls were abundant as the swell rose up causing the waves to close out more. After a while there were only certain waves letting people in. I set up for a fast tapering shoulder on a double overhead drop hoping to be set up on a good line before the waves hit the reef. As I dropped the wave went sub surface and the radical change of the curve in the wave face caused me to have a clean pearl. If pearls are ever clean. I looked up towards the massive wall transforming into a pitching lip then gapping barrel. The gapping tunnel looked incredibly beautiful as the light blue faded into a darker edge highlighted by white and shimmering light. When the split second of appreciation was over I knew a spin in the washing machine was inevitable. As I kicked off the reef I realized how much juice these guys had. Pushing my big body down some ten to fifteen feet is some power.

The town of Cabarete located on Dominican Republic’s Amber Coast is recognized as one of the world’s top destinations for wind driven board sports primarily kiteboarding and windsurfing. Surfing here doesn’t provide consistent epic waves one finds in other destinations of the world but the vibe is unbeatable. And yeah every dog has it’s day and that one day you roll out to the beach and there it is, a bombing swell lighting up all the reefs. Then you sit there, contemplating if you made the right board choice. I brought my 10’3″ classic single fin shaped by Jesse Timm and my Harbour 9-0, 2+1. I can’t ever get enough of the JT but I tell you what the 9-0 really excelled in the fast reef breaks.

The water clarity. What?! Can’t beat it. On the calmer days it’s like sitting in an aquarium. On those windy days it’s murky. Sharks love murk. All the stories I heard, told of “no worries” on the landlords. As the natural world of Dominican Republic is the beauty, the beast would have to be the moto conches. Moto conches, you ask. It’s a guy driving around town on a little motorcycle giving people, primarily tourists, rides from one end to the other for about $1.50US equivalent. And it’s not just one guy, it’s a whole mafia. If you employ the use of one of these guys make sure to keep your knees in. I did and all was ok. One more thing, hold your breath. The pollution from all the vehicles is probably one of the most deadliest things encountered here. Something interesting happens with the moto conche mafia. When leaving the bars at night the mild mannered drivers offering friendly rides turn into crazed drug dealers. What ever you want weed, cocaine, crack is offered repeatedly. I employed the ignore them technique and it worked well, but hey I’m big dude and that helps too. Remember when walking back from a bar/s at night don’t let the whores reach into your pockets or take your watch. Drinking and walking in Cabarete after hours is an act best played on your toes, no doubt.

I’ve been to many other places where the waves were better than what I surfed in Dominican Republic this year but the overall experience of staying at Ali’s/Cabarete Surf Camp together with it’s community feel of free thinking, water minded individuals made this the best surf trip by far. Euphoria happened not the way I planed it and that’s the way I like it. Stay stoked!