Level: Upper intermediate to Advanced
Best wind: South
Best swell size: 4 - 12ft
Best swell direction: North East
Best tide: Around low tide. Low going mid may be a bit better than mid going low but either is fine and almost the same.
Best for: Experienced surfers looking for a fast and punchy right.
Crowd factor: Medium. When Rock Island is working well you can expect to see quite a few boats when you arrive at the spot. However, if the swell is really big there won't be to many people crazy enough to surf there. Also if the conditions aren't quite right a lot of people stay away so that may be a good time to surf uncrowded but tricky waves.
How to get there: You can find boats for hire either in the village of Cloud 9 or at the boat launch at the end of the paved road past Cloud 9. It takes about 15 minutes each way and the driver will wait for you (or surf with you) and take you back for 200 pesos per person (min 2 pax). Rock Island and neighboring Stimpy's are just a couple minutes by boat from each other so you can check both out before deciding which one to surf.
Kind of wave: Rock Island can a tricky (difficult) wave to surf. The wave moves pretty fast and the drops can be steep. If you make a wrong move (falling on the drop, gettting caught inside) you'll end up down in the wash out and it's a frustrating paddle back out to the channel. The current is moving against you and the white waver keeps coming and coming and coming.. it can be exhausting just getting back to the channel.. try not to sit too deep (closest to the rock) and don't drop in on too many waves that you know are gonna close out or that you don't think you'll make.
But having said that, Rock Island can be a perfect, long, right-handed wave with both hollow (or barreling) sections and stretches of wide-open face to carve around on. With good conditions you can ride through three totally different sections all the way back to where to boats are parked. Rock Island is at its best from head-high to double-overhead. It gets even bigger at times but you really gotta know how to surf to go there if it's that big. If the swell is small then there's not much going on at Rock Island, but as long as there's over a meter or so of swell there's decent sized waves to be had.
Surf season: All-year except summer months.
Rock Island works well through most seasons. In the peak-season of Sep, Oct, and Nov it's often off-shore and pumping with waves from head-high to double-overhead (sometimes triple!!). However, Rock Island is surfed a lot during the winter months because there can be good swell, but the winds are onshore at this time. Rock Island is a bit protected from East winds so is one of the few spots that can be surfed in the winter. In the summer months from late May to late August it's usually flat but swells do pop up once in awhile.