I call it a sanctuary. A place of retreat. A place where things move at just the right speed — where your senses are acute, but your body is completely comfortable. A place where things happen to the beat of your heart. Most surfers have one in mind — their version of paradise. A lonely piece of reef pass. A playful beachbreak. A point that moves slow and fat, like a whale. It's different for all of us, but it's there for you when you need it, though maybe just in the form of a daydream.
But if you're lucky enough, maybe you've visited your version of perfection. Maybe you've actually been there, and return often. We know Ben Bourgeois (this month's cover dude) has discovered his, and has gone back for seconds. His paradise found resembles ours imagined, and like so many buried treasures before it, it lies hidden in the Caribbean.
Both untrekked and household; as mysterious as it is familiar; as blue as it is orange and yellow, the Caribbean is a jewel lost to much of the surf world in recent years: too fickle, too costly, too hard. But for Ben Bourgeois, it houses a slice of heaven shared by only a lucky few; for Yadin Nicol and Mike Losness, it offers a rum-run to score on the fly; and East Coast surfers from FL to NY haven't forgotten for a second that the Caribbean can craft a winter dreamscape.
There's a major skunk risk — an element of chance. There are smiles on every face, but a good ass-kicking is just a short paddle away. You can find an all-night dance party or an all-week flat spell; swimming pool tubes or just a packed hotel swimming pool; brilliant white sand or just pasty white tourists. It's a fairytale wonderland in cartoon colors, as well as a giant spin of the roulette wheel — a surfer's game of chance.
This month, we bring focus to the possibilities of the Caribbean and the potential it keeps secret. We reexamine an island that's long served dual rolls (Re:PR, pg. 092): one part pummeling playground, one part safe house; all parts Puerto Rico. A year that's justified the pride of its locals has also put the place back on the global map (to wit, The Search is knocking.) In 2010, Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean — like so many places during this season of seasons — is putting on a show for the whole world, keeping the dream alive and no doubt sparking some new ones.
If your version of paradise is still just a daydream, you may want to start packing. —Travis Ferré