Windsurf and Kitesurf in Puerto Rico.
About the island:
Puerto Rico is a self-governing unincorporated territory of the United States. The territory is composed of an archipelago that includes the main island and a number of smaller islands and keys, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. San Juan is the capital of the territory. The official languages are Spanish and English with Spanish being the primary language.
The main island is one of the largerst Caribbean islands after Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. The island has mountains, rainforests, long sandy beaches, a large underground cave system, historical buildings and monuments which date back to the Spanish conquistadors. The vibrant Puertorican culture is a mix of four cultures: African, Taíno, Spanish, and more recently, North American.
Puerto Rico has more nightlife than any other island in the Caribbean. To the beat of salsa, there's a party going on here 24 hours a day. There are 4 million people on the island and they all believe that having fun is one of the reasons they were born. There is a lot of Las Vegas-type gambling, glitter, and extravagant shows.
Puerto Rico is sometimes called “Heaven and Hell Island”. As for the hell part, unfortunately, much of the island lives in poverty. The island has many problems such as high crime, unemployment and bad traffic.
When to go:
December through April is waves sailing season in Puerto Rico. Winds are somewhat inconsistent in the 10 to 25-knot range, blowing side-off to side-on, starboard-tack jumping. Waves up to mast high are usually generated by frontal systems coming off the East Coast of the U.S.
July to September is flat-water sailing season. The North Atlantic generates the trade winds that blow during late spring and summer at a steady 12 to 18 knots. The water gets flat, and the racers come out in full force.
The island is called “ Maui of the Caribbean” because it offers excellent wave sailing conditions for almost half of the year. The other half of the year you will get flat water. The winds blow with the average speed of 15-18 knots throughout the year.
Puerto Rico enjoys an average temperature of 30°C (82°F). Temperatures do not change drastically throughout the seasons. The Hurricane season spans from June to November. You can leave your wetsuit at home but bring the booties. Some beaches have a rocky bottom.
Beaches to go:
There are three major windsurfing and kitesurfing areas in Puerto Rico: San Juan Metro Area, the Northwest Coast and the South Coast .
San Juan Metro Area:
Punta Las Marías is located about 10 km (6 miles) east from San Juan downtown area. There are windsurfing and kitesurfing shops and rentals are available. The wide, sandy beaches of Punta Las Marías with its steady sideshore winds are perfect for all levels of wind and kitesurfing. Kiters and windsurfers actually get along pretty good there and share the same beaches and breaks.
A long barrier reef about 800 m out (0.5 miles) provides some of the best wave sailing in Puerto Rico, with fantastic breaks everywhere. For windsurfers the most popular sail sizes are 5.3 to 5.8 m2.
A good launch from which to explore the wave-sailing possibilities is the east corner of Park Boulevard Street, about 3 miles west of the airport. It offers beachfront street parking, a grassy rigging area and easy access to several clean breaks.
Isla Verde is another wide, sandy beach only 800 m further east of Punta Las Marías, right next to the International Airport. This area is more popular among kitesurfers than windsurfers.
Caballos, has a big wave break. It is located in the Puerto Rico just off the beach next to the San Juan Airport. The waves can be as high as double-mast even in the light wind. This area has a channel that allows you to get out from the swell. You should launch near the San Juan Plaza in the Isla Verde neighborhood.
The Northwest Coast
Jobos is a famous beach for kiting and windsurfing in that area. It is about an hour drive from San Juan just after Arecibo. The reef forms a natural pool. It's very shallow at the beginning but it gets deeper. Further out the current is strong creating big waves. This beach is good for beginners and intermediate level sailors. Experts prefer the outer part of the area.
Shacks is another famous beach located in the town of Isabela west of Jobos. It is about an 80 minutes drive from San Juan. If you are planning to spend your entire vacation there then take a flight directly to Aguadilla's airport which is 5 minutes from Shacks beach.
Warm water all year around, head to mast high waves, no crowds and the best wind on the island. This is really the windiest spot in Puerto Rico. If you only had one sail, it would be a 5.0m2. Kiteboarders would sail every day with a 9.5 to 11.5m2 kites.
Conditions range from inviting to threatening and can change daily. Shacks can be an intermediate level sailors spot when the waves are small. However, it is mostly recommended for experts. The waves are hollow and pitch over a shallow sharp coral reef.
This area offers an incredible snorkeling and scuba-diving experience in the summer or flat-water days. You will find underwater caves that will take you across the reef.
Surfer's Beach is west of Shacks on the north side of the military base in Aguadilla. It has a flat, rocky bottom relatively smoother than the one at Shacks. However, the downwind shoreline has jagged rocks. This beach is very popular among surfers. It is recommended for advanced wind or kitesurfers only.
The South Coast:
Guanica known as a “friendly town” is located about 1 hour 45 minutes south west from San Juan or about 30 minutes west from Ponce. It is believed that Christopher Columbus landed here during his second voyage in 1493. The population of the town is 10,000 habitants.
Guanica’s beaches offer a variety of conditions that will please both beginners and advanced sailors. You can also sail or kite from here to Gilligan's Bay. It is a great spot with nice flat water and good steady wind but you can’t set-up kites here. If you want to kite here you'll probably need to launch from a boat.
The other alternative is Ballena Bay. This bay has very flat water with a good beach to rig and launch from. You'll need a boat to get there. The ferry at San Jacinto Restaurant will take you there or to Gilligan's Island for only $5 US per person. This spot is not for beginners due to the mangrove trees downwind. If you mess up you will land right into them.
La Parguera is a small town located about 2 hours drive south-west from San Juan (50 minutes west from Ponce).
La Parguera is a huge area that features small mangrove islands with beatiful beaches, natural pools, sand cays spread over the shallow, clear water. The winds are a steady 15 to 20 knots just about every day. This area used to be only popular among local windsurfers and kiters but it has recently been discovered by tourists.
Here at the town’s marina you can rent a small open boat for the day. Pack a lunch, load the gear and head out to one of the little sandy cays. Cayo Enrique is the most popular and accessible.
La Parguera's area has great snorkeling and scuba diving as well as a unique wonder of the world: the bioluminescent bay. Here you have a chance to see glowing water during the night which is caused by millions of micro-organisms called dinoflagellates. It is definitely a must-see when there is no moon.