Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Famous for its world-class windsurfing and kiteboarding, Cabarete is gaining a reputation as an unspoiled surfing gem. Encuentro is a reliable wave with a left break over a shallow reef and a right over a sandbar, with an easy takeoff and escalating down-the-line speed.
Lessons: No Work Team offers a single lesson for $35 (three hours) and two three-hour sessions plus three additional days' board rental for $89. noworkteamcabarete.com; 011-809-571-0820
Surf Digs: Ali's Surf Camp has tent sites, cozy cottages (from $20 per person year-round) and rental apartments (from $55). alissurfcamp.com; 011-809-571-0733
The Upgrade: Velero Beach Resort offers four-star luxury in 22 two-bedroom apartments and seven penthouses (from $65 in low season, $100 high). alissurfcamp.com; 011-809-571-9727
This nautical nirvana is blessed with baby-blue waves and sugar-white shores, and it's often blissfully empty. Surfers Beach rims the north end of the island, with a wave that stretches long on the left--a nice run for learners--with some steep sections on the right.
With a boat you can tackle remote breaks like Rights on neighboring Elbow Cay; Capt. Z Fishing and Dive Charters (surfeleuthera.com; 302-227-6202) can make it happen with half- and full-day tours.
Lessons: Bahamas Out-Island Adventures launches a pair of one-week Surf Schools here in June ($849, not including airfare). They also offer surfaris up to four days long. bahamasadventures.com; 242-551-9635
Surf Digs: Surfers Beach Manor has 11 newly renovated rooms (from $79 in low season, $89 high), plus a restaurant and lounge. surfersmanor.com; 242-335-5300
The Upgrade: Located in Gregory Town, The Cove offers 26 rooms and suites recently remodeled to blend urban chic and island charm (from $195 year-round). thecoveeleuthera.com; 800-552-5960
Rincón, Puerto Rico
With no fewer than 10 big-wave breaks, Rincón is the Caribbean's answer to Hawaii's famed Banzai Pipeline. Maria's generates solid tuck-in tubes that hold shape for 100 feet. (It's right in front of HotWavz Surf Shop.)
Tres Palmas, a little south, is Puerto Rico's largest wave, cresting at 15 to 20 feet. North of the point, Sandy Beach has a clean wave and a soft bottom, good conditions for beginners.
Lessons: At Rincón Surf School, $89 buys a full-day lesson. rinconsurfschool.com; 787-823-0610
Surf Digs: Rincón Surf and Board is a Caribbean-style guesthouse overlooking the beach (from $50 in low season, $60 high). surfandboard.com; 787-823-0610
The Upgrade: Just minutes from primo surfing, Rincón Beach Resort is a quiet Spanish-style boutique resort (from $185 in low season, $230 high). rinconbeach.com; 866-589-0009
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Surfistas know the BVI as the best-kept secret in the Caribbean. On the north shore of Tortola, Apple Bay serves up a tasty mid-level ride. At Cane Garden Bay kamikazes can dive-bomb 10-footers when conditions are right.
Josiah's Bay rolls out a relaxed classic, averaging three feet and landing at the foot of Naomi's Grapetree Beach Bar. There are also north-coast monsters reachable only by boat, but those are best left to the pros.
Lessons: In March, North Carolina-based Surf Camp takes beginners and intermediates on weeklong trips to Tortola ($2,195, not including airfare); they also arrange private excursions. wbsurfcamp.com; 866-844-7873
Surf Digs: Sebastian's on the Beach rents 26 rooms on Little Apple Bay (from $75 in low season, $125 high). sebastiansbvi.com; 800-336-4870
The Upgrade: Sugar Mill is a secluded luxury hotel tucked amid lush surroundings on Little Apple's northern shore (from $225 in low season, $310 high). sugarmillhotel.com; 800-462-8834