While in Punta Cana, there are a number of special activities to choose from for those that love being in the water and getting out of the resort. This is a full review of Macao Surf Camp and why they're a perfect afternoon day-trip.
Read more about the Dominican Republic
Where to book other activities
- Whether you're staying in Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, I always recommend checking out GetYourGuide for recommendations for activities. They're super easy to use and reliable.
Here's what we're covering:
- Surfing experience so far
- Review of Macao Surf Camp
- Fresh catch of the day for lunch
- The photo and video team
- There's more!
- Bottom line
- Where to stay in Punta Cana
- Other activities to consider
Surfing experience so far
Becoming good at surfing has always been a dream of mine but without any surf near Toronto it's always been impossible to keep it up.
My first ever lesson was near San Diego and since then I've gone surfing in Malibu, Cape Town, and in Kauai but the problem is that without the reps, every time you go it's like starting all over again.
With Macao Surf Camp, I knew I wanted a place that could help us become familiar with surfing again and give us confidence that we could hit those waves.
Review of Macao Surf Camp
Currently #22 in things to do in Punta Cana and super well-reviewed, I was intrigued to see how good of a surf camp they would be. The below follows our entire journey from pick-up to drop-off.
From the beginning, communication with the school's director, Rafael, was smooth as butter. The excursion was easily booked on Viator.
On the day of, all we had to do was wait at the lobby of the Catalonia Royal Bavaro for our pickup. The van came promptly on time and after roughly 25 minutes we were at Macao Beach.
Pristine white sand Macao Beach
Once we got off the van and walked towards the surf camp hut, I immediately noticed what a dramatic change in beach this was to our resort.
Macao Beach is truly a proper white sand beach. There is no seaweed to speak and has no rocks to cause you to stumble either. We later found out that even the area of surf had no rocks either which made wiping out that much safer.
Macao Beach is absolutely gorgeous.
Ground surf lessons
Once we checked in, both Chantelle and I were given blue rash guard shirts to wear.
There were also lockers for our bags but Rafael said that they've never had an issue with theft since it's watched the whole time so we just left it in the hut.
Once the lesson was underway, we were brought out to the entrance of the surf camp where 6 surf boards were laid out in the sand.
Gustavo, a surfer since 1965 gave us a briefing on basic techniques, common mistakes and things to look out for.
Not before long, he had us on the boards and practicing how to properly pop up on the board from down position.
I really appreciated feedback on my feet positioning and stance here – something I didn't learn from my other lessons.
One-on-one surf training
After Gustavo was done, out came all the rest of the instructor team in black rashguard shirts, and with our surf boards, we walked over to the middle part of Macao Beach.
With no time to waste, we pretty much head straight into the water. I was paired with Alex and Chantelle with Jyens.
What was incredible about the beach was that where the waves were cresting, the water was only shoulder high. This allowed Alex and Jyens to stand there the whole time. This also makes for a nice beginner's beach with the waves coming in close to shore and not too high either.
For the first half of the in-water session, Alex basically held the board from the back and when a good wave was incoming, he'd give me a good push, and would either say “Paddle” or “Up”. I'd continue to paddle to build speed if I heard “Paddle” and if I heard “Up”, I'd pop up from my board.
The one-on-one instruction here was greatly appreciated and where the magic happened. Eliminating the task of watching for a wave, building up speed and to know how long to paddle, I could focus purely on getting up from my board and my form.
In no time, Chantelle and I were both able to ride the waves consistently one after the next.
I was amazed at how the personalized experience and the focus on a few core mechanics at a time made everything fall in place.
Since it was just me and Alex, there was no wait time going from one surf to the next.
I can't begin to explain how exhilarating surfing in Punta Cana was and being able to consistently ride the waves. We became so confident that we were able to ride a wave together and even high-five each other on the way down. Smooth moves.
We even learned a bit of Spanish along the way. “Mah-chu-ka” was the fist-pump and “Grande-ola” meant “big wave”.
Halfway through our lesson, we were called back ashore. I was pleasantly surprise when we were treated to fresh mangos and coconut from the local beach vendors.
At first I was a bit unsure of whether we'd have to pay them but it turned out that it was included with our package.
This gave us time to take a breather and recharge. It was well timed because we were both exhausted from constantly riding surf after surf.
Building up surfing confidence
After our break, we hit the water again. This time, we felt a little bit more confidence so we told them we wanted to paddle ourselves instead of getting pushed.
Alex and Jyens were happy to accommodate and this time around, they held our board from the front to keep it stabilized and when a wave was incoming, they'd let go and give us instructions on how long to paddle and when to get up.
It was a lot harder this time around but we still managed to get up on our board successfully quite a few times.
In the second half was also when Rafael came straight out into the water. This was much appreciated because he literally watched each surfer one at a time and would make comments on what we were doing wrong and what we needed to correct to do better.
What we thought about the surfing lessons
We had a fantastic day surfing with the team at Macao Surf Camp. With surfing lessons that range all the places I've done this, I'm not lying when I say that this one is the best.
- Close to one-on-one instruction
- Teachers are really good at making you comfortable in the water and confident
- The beginner waves at Macao Beach are really easy to stand up and ride surf, making the whole activity fun
- Not just dudes/dudettes with surf boards on a beach – they have a legit hut and restaurant there with a place to store your things too
- White sand and soft beach
- Only surf lesson where you actually get a break in between with snacks
- When you finish the class, you can have lunch at surf shack which is a nice way to end off the morning
Hopefully this Macao Surf Camp review gives you an idea what to expect and why it's one you should definitely consider during your stay in Punta Cana.
Fresh catch of the day for lunch
After the lesson, we were able to rinse off in their outdoor shower.
Back in the surf shack, we found out that they have their own kitchen as well. It's not advertised but this is another additional that makes Macao Surf Camp full service.
Rafael recommended the Mahi Mahi and Conch so that's what we ended up ordering. I asked if they had a menu but he said that it changes week to week because it depends on what the local fisherman catch and bring back.
Talk about fresh right?
Note that lunch is not included with the lessons but is definitely a convenient spot to eat right afterwards.
The photo and video team
Throughout the whole lesson, there was a photographer that followed us around. This was great because taking photos was the last thing on my mind when we hit the water. As you can see, they got some pretty awesome action shots of us.
Ramon Perez is the freelance photographer that runs things and by the time we got back to surf camp hut, he had all the photos ready for us to review. They charge a mere $30 per person or $50 per couple for an entire DVD full of photos. Ramon also does video with a combination of several GoPros and a drone.
Credits go out to Ramon for editing the photos and burning them on a DVD for us.
Chatting with Rafael, we also found out that as part of the lesson, you can keep using your board for the rest of the day if you'd like.
It was too bad we didn't have more time to spend on the beach, otherwise it would've been nice to hit the water on our own after lunch to put our skills to the test. I honestly don't know of any other surf shop that does that.
Surfing in Punta Cana may not be a well-known activity but I'm a huge advocate now. The beach is the perfect place to learn and improve and the team at Macao Surf Camp do an incredibly job of getting you up on your board like you were born to do it.
Now that we were all caught up, if we had more time in Punta Cana, we would've followed up the beginner lesson with a surfboard rental as there's plenty of surf at Macao Beach that ranges from easy to hard.
About Macao Surf Camp
The surf camp was started 6 years ago by Rafael, Gustavo and Armando and was the first school in the Punta Cana area of the Dominican Republic. Since then, they've risen to the top as one of the star activities in the region.
Not only are they devoted to the students that come to Macao Surf Camp but they are also big believer of their motto “Protect, enjoy and respect the ocean”.
Surf Lesson Prices
- Group lessons are $98 USD per person.
- Private surf lessons are also available.
- All lessons include roundtrip transfers, the board, 15 minutes of theory for beginners, 2 hour lesson, break with coconut or water and fresh fruit, rash guard. Surf board can be used throughout the rest of the day.
- Difficulty and skill level tailored to you.
- There are 4 time slots: early morning 9AM, late morning 11AM, and early afternoon 1PM, and later afternoon 3PM.
- $30 USD for one person
- $50 USD if there's two
- For groups its as low as $10 USD
You can book your surf camp session below.
Yes there are. There's always staff at the surf camp hut to watch over your things.
Spanish, English, Russian, and Italian.
The lessons are perfect for beginners.
Round-trip transportation, surfboards, two-hour lessons, lycra shirt as a rash guard (if needed), coconut, water, and fruit.
20-30 minutes depending on how many people need to be picked up.
Yes you can rent surfboards from Macao Surf Camp. The rates starts at $10 USD for 1 hour up to a full day for $25 USD.
No, those are offered by other providers.
You can make a special request to stay on the beach after your surf lesson and catch a different transfer back to your resort.
Both run a very similar operation with Punta Cana Surf Adventure being slightly cheaper. That said, Macao Surf Camp has been operating on the beach for much longer as you can see from the number of reviews they have. What they don't have though is a restaurant and patio area.
From hotel pick up to drop off, the whole experience should take 2.5 to 3 hours.
Make sure to bring a towel, high SPF sun protection, and cash for tips and photos.
Where to stay in Punta Cana
We had a chance to stay at this all-inclusive resort on our trip to the Dominican Republic and loved this adults-only resort. It wasn't overwhelming, had the right number of pools, good food, a nice stretch of beach and an amazing room.
A property that is incredibly affordable given that it is a 4-star property. While it isn't all-inclusive, it has its own private beach and tropical garden with lounge areas and BBQ facilities. Umbrellas, loungers, and towels are free to use as well.
Other activities to consider
I was a guest of Macao Surf Camp. As always, all opinions expressed are entirely my own and does not reflect the compensation received.