Surfing was first introduced to the island as a hotel promotion in 1912 but never really caught on until the 1960s. Back then, locals fashioned home made boards from refrigerator foam laminated with resin and fiber glass drapery cloth. Black electrical tape was used to make "racing stripes". The waves on the eastern side of the island, the windward side, provide the best surfing opportunities. The north coast boasts some bigger NE swells, white-sand beaches and quality rivermouths favoring rights. The south shores enjoy better consistency and some good lefts, often brushed by NE offshores, along grey sand empty beaches. Jamaica has an eight month surf season with bursts of one or two week spells over the remaining four.
Located on the South East Coast, Makka Beach, has one of the most consistently good waves. The Makka Pro, an annual international pro event, is hosted here and has become one of the largest in the english speaking Caribbean.
An occasionally barreling point break, these lefts have been known to go double overhead at times. Although coral and urchins on the inside make entry tricky, Makka's world-class tubes and glassy faces have made it host to the island's only pro surfing contests. The antithesis of Makka is a nearby spot called DNA. This is a reef break over coral heads producing a steep, hollow wave breaking on both left and right shoulders. It's also what's known as a TOAD beach -- Take Off And Die -- and should be attempted by experienced surfers only.
Boston Beach is the island's most popular surfing beach and was Jamaica's first internationally recognized surf spot. Visitors to the famous beach witnessed local fishermen returning from sea and "surfing" their boats in on the powerful driving surf rolling into the cove and took the news back to eager ears. It's a beach break that provides fairly long rides on both left and right breaking waves. Surfers returned to ride the waves, dropping in and sliding left as the fat peak wedged off the outside rock, or charging the thick right on the other side of the tiny protected bay. A short distance from Boston Beach is Long Bay, a left-hand point break known for its consistently good waves. A couple of miles west is another point break called Outback that breaks over a bed of sea urchins and live coral. The powerful lefts at Outback begin as hollow tubes before wrapping around the point for a long ride into the bay.
The Zoo, located near Kingston, is a reef break producing a short ride on a barreling right for intermediate riders. The much steeper, shorter walls of the Zoo, forced local surfers to compress their maneuvers and speed up turns. Tube riding became the primary focus and skills were honed to razor sharp perfection on the hollow river mouth barrel. This resulted in a brand new much more radical strain of Jamaican surfing.The Zoo was the discovery of the decade!
The Lighthouse, located near the Norman Manley International Airport, is a classic-shaped reef break producing three- to six-foot left and right waves that break over rock-strewn sand. Reef sharks are sometimes spotted here, and there is a lighthouse on the beach.