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Wingfoiling in Puerto Rico, foil heaven or not?

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Traveling somewhere you have never been, is always a treat! But when you are researching a potential destination and it appears to be a potential heaven for surfing and in particular wingfoiling and foiling, combined with tropical weather in the winter. You won’t have any trouble convincing the rest of the party. In my case existing of my partner and 2 year old daughter. (dad happy, wife happy? 😉) What also helps, Puerto Rico is situated in the Caribbean, it has many beaches and a rainforest! Something for everyone.

So we had the change to escape the Dutch winter and stay in in Puerto Rico for most of January. And enjoyed a Wingcation in Puerto Rico! In this blog some information, hope it helps you!

The wind and waves season in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico wind season is generally from half December up to August. However, the island is located in the Hurricane belt. That means it can be hit by a hurricane when that season starts in June already. Though around September this season usually becomes more effective.
Most waves appear in winter times, or during hurricanes.

When we arrived I already noticed some wingfoilers out of the airplane window on the ocean right at the islands capital, San Juan. But we got lucky, the weeks before there was not much wind we heard. And just days before we left, the wind also went and did come back very quick. Not sure this is usual weather. But even the months after the forecast looked pretty poor windwise.

Wingfoil spots in Puerto Rico
There wasn’t much I could find about the spots on the internet.  Yes there was a spot with a shop and rental gear in San Juan. But we did not feel like having a holiday in such a crowded area. The only spot I could find limited information about was called Shack Beach. Windsurfing and kitesurfing was done here, and I could find one video of wingfoiling on this spot that looked awesome!
As there wasn’t that much information, and not even having that much accommodation options available it was time too just use Google maps and compare this to the accommodations we found.

In the end I have only been wingfoiling in 3 main areas / spots:

1. Playa las Picuas, Rio Grande

Only accessible if you have accommodation on the  ‘resort’. We found a nice apartment right at the beach trhough AirB&B. The beaches here were very uncrowded and sandy, with lots of palm treas. Perfect for a family get away.
The whole bay had an outside reef, taking out most of the waves. However, on big days there was a really nice swell going al the way to the beach. Some parts of the beach could have a tricky beachbreak in such case. But right in front of our apartment the launch was easy. Going upwind and downwind I checked the whole bay up to Liquillo Beach. Going between reefs and I found some great swell riding in front of the Wyndham hotel. The beach in front of this hotel was also accessible if you just told the people at the gate you were going to the restaurant. But parking here was not free and there might be a big shorebreak on a big swell day.
The outer reefs at the bay where tricky. There was a lot of water moving around. Being the only wingfoiler out, I did not venture here too much. But it should have big riding potential!

2. Playa Ocean Park, San Juan

I teamed up with a local shaper that I got touch with, as he was teamrider for a wing brand I wanted to try. I followed him along to his local spot in San Juan. We parked somewhere private. But normally you can go out at Playa Ocean Park. There you have protected waters from the outside reef so you can launch or just enjoy flat water. And if you know your way around, you can hit the waves on the outside reef. Just follow some other wingfoilers as there are very shallow reefs around. Usually the wind should pick up here during the afternoon they told me.

3. Shack Beach Puerto Rico

The most known beach amongst kiters and windsurfers in Puerto Rico. Now partially being taken over by wingfoilers, it was still very uncrowded! With probably 10 foilers out at the same time, this was the busiest day. But just enough to give to spot a great wingfoil vibe with like minded people!
While… in the Dominican Replublic only being one island away, thered will be hundreds of kiters and wingfoilers. Why only few would venture to Shacks beach? Having sideshore winds, warm weather, warm water and waves aswell.
Shack Beach has a reef you have to launch from. This reef makes it more tricky to launch. Besides beautiful snorkeling on calm days, it harbors friendly sea urchins and other objects that feet don’t like that much. Also if you run in to trouble, you will need to go over the reef, that could be swallow from time to time. So it’s defiantly not a beginners spot. And you need to learn your way around the reef. Especially on the foil. Though I did not find it actually ‘that bad’ of a launch. But I was very aware and did not take unnecessary risks.
Once out, this spot is great! With the right swell direction you get waves that form a bit around a point. On other days when the swell is more onshore orientated. Waves do break more scattered. But as long as they don’t get to high, they are great fun to ride!
We also had 2 days that the waves where to big to go out in. 8m high walls just breaking all over the place! Not something you want with a wing. We did some driving, but did not find a spot within 50km that could function as a backup spot when things get too much.
Shack beach has some apartments right on the beach. The views from these are amazing. However, they are either really expensive. Or still pretty expensive and you would be cramped together with a neighbor. We stayed just a minutes’ walk away from the beach in the small neighborhood behind the beach. Which also worked really well as we had a whole villa with swimming pool to ourselves. Shacks is also a great place, also when there would be no wind. Prone foiling, snorkeling and chilling worked very well.
As the waves at this spot had a lot of energy and went fast. I mainly used the Axis Foils Spitfire 780 frontwing. The 840 proved to be to large for me.
To get to this spot you would need to drive for 2,5 hours from the airport in San Juan. However, just around the corner of Shack beach there also was an international airport. It is much smaller, but occasionally a 737 would fly over in the middle in the night doing it’s take off. Other than that, it was a great quiet place!

Puerto Rico Rainforest, nature and coffee

In between the beaches we ventured inland. We drove 1km high up in to the mountains where we stayed at a coffee farm, and drank the best coffee available. Along the ride nature would take over, away from the many American influences (mainly fastfood chains and car sales one after another). We had a great stay in the mountains with forest nightlife taking over the evening sound.
Finishing our trip we stayed right next to the rainforest with people owning a couple of acres of rainforest. We had a couple of perfect days here and only when we left, the sun was traded for the rain.

Conclusion, is Puerto Rico a number top Wingcation destination?

If you are from Europe and you look for something different and want to windfoil in a warm place in winters time? Try Puerto Rico. It is almost like you are in the US, but with a Caribbean and Spanish vibe to it. It might be a bit harder to get there. But with a stop in de US(Philadelphia) first we found it was quite allright, even while traveling with a 2 year old.

Is it the most consistent wind spot in the Caribbean? 2024 seemed like a different year then others. We got lucky, and also we liked the temperature a lot. While on other Caribbean islands, it would get very hot even in Januari when the wind dies out, in Puerto Rico the temperature was much more comfortable. But pure for the wind, the Lessar Antilles do seem to have more wind. Though in the weeks we where in Puerto Rico, I did not touch my 6 meter wing. I only used the 5 meter wing and even a 3.5 wing would have been better on quite some days!
Biggest difference with the other islands is also the waves that come from the Atlantic. Almost all Caribbean islands lack breaking surf waves. But Puerto Rico is full of them!

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