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
Rinc?n, Puerto Rico
With no fewer than 10 big-wave breaks, Rinc?n 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 Rinc?n Surf School, $89 buys a full-day lesson. rinconsurfschool.com; 787-823-0610
Surf Digs: Rinc?n 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, Rinc?n 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
Caribbean Travel & Life is the magazine for anyone in search of the perfect tropical getaway. Each issue presents expert insider's advice on where to find the Caribbean's best beaches and attractions, its finest resorts and spas, liveliest beach bars and activities, and its friendliest people.