The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in South America

Brazil’s surf peaks with its Atlantic bays. The country excels in the World Surf League and other competitions. Surfers find variety in South America. Peru offers extensive left-hand waves. Colombia’s remote tropical bays add to the allure.

Introduction to Surfing in South America

South America’s vast 15,800-mile coastline – the equivalent of 15 stacked Portugals – offers a surf smorgasbord. This continent, straddling both the Atlantic and Pacific, is an endless wave-fest.

Start in Peru, where Chicama’s legendary lefts provide some of the world’s longest rides. Here, you might share waves with local fishers, the original surfers, according to them. Just remember to nod respectfully.

Heading to Chile, brace for the cold Humboldt Current. It’s a consistent swell machine. Pichilemu stands out with its long, peeling lefts. Wetsuit? Absolutely.

Up north, Ecuador’s Montañita mirrors Bali’s surf scene with a Latin twist. Think Tamarindo with a dash more fiesta. It’s lively, with surf camps aplenty. Just a heads-up: it’s a bit rough around the edges currently. Do a safety check before you go.

Then there’s Brazil, a surfing powerhouse thanks to legends like Medina and Italo. Florianopolis shines brightest among numerous stellar spots, set against some of the most breathtaking beaches known to humanity.

In South America, a sense of adventure is key. Be prepared for long journeys in pursuit of that perfect swell. So, grab your board and embrace the journey, amigos! Happy shredding!

Where to surf in South America

Considering the diverse surf opportunities in South America, a country-by-country approach is sensible. Each nation boasts a rich array of surfing experiences, often with dozens of notable spots. Our guides delve into each country, further breaking down into detailed overviews of key surf towns and locations. Start exploring by clicking through our comprehensive guides.

Colombia

Colombia might not top the list of South American surf destinations. Its main appeal lies in a few secluded bays on the western Pacific coast. These spots are so hidden that reaching them involves both boat and prop plane travel. The Caribbean coast offers some decent, albeit not spectacular, surf spots.

Here’s the deal: If you’re already traveling to Colombia, sure, catch a few waves. But, it’s not the crown jewel of a South American surf trip. For the main event, look towards Peru or Brazil.

For a thorough rundown, see our complete guide to surfing in Colombia.

  • Prime Surf Season: December to March
  • Best Spots: Palomino, San Juan del Sur, Nuqui

Peru

Peru is synonymous with legendary left-hand waves.

Chicama, with its spotlight in surf magazines, is a haven for goofy footers seeking something beyond New Zealand’s Raglan and its 1,000-meter rides.

Yet, Chicama is just the beginning. Peru’s surf scene includes the tropical vibes of Máncora, mirroring Ecuador’s warm-water, palm-lined beach breaks. Then there’s Punta Hermosa, an ideal getaway from Lima.

Peru earns high marks from us. Expect breathtaking beaches bordering the desert and epic waves. The only drawback? The lengthy travel times to reach these spots.

For more insights, dive into our complete guide to surfing in Peru.

  • Surf Season: April to October
  • Best Spots: Punta Rocas, Chicama, Mancora

Chile

Chile extends Peru’s legacy with rugged coastlines and consistent left-handers, fueled by the robust Southern Ocean swells in winter. The country adds an adventurous twist, particularly in its southern regions far from Santiago. These untamed beaches, with their potentially perfect barreling A-frames, beckon the brave to discover their secrets.

However, most surfers gravitate towards the north and areas around Santiago. Here, established surf hubs like Iquique and Pichilemu offer more accessible waves.

Explore further with our complete guide to surfing in Chile.

  • Prime Surf Season: March to November
  • Best Spots: Pichilemu, Arica, Iquique

Brazil

Brazil’s surfing pedigree, home to talents like Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina, is unquestionably top-tier. The country’s surf scene stretches from Florianopolis’ shimmering shores to Rio’s urban waves, and onto the warm, inviting waters of Itacaré in Bahia. This vast swath of the continent is a treasure trove for surfers, with an abundance of spots to explore.

Stay tuned for our complete guide to surfing in Brazil.

  • Prime Surf Season: April to September
  • Best Spots: Florianopolis, Ubatuba, Itacaré

Argentina

Argentina beckons the true surf adventurers. Venture beyond the usual and discover the icy bays of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. This territory is so uncharted that creating definitive guides seems almost futile. Countless islets and untouched reef corners appear, wrapped in waves on Google Maps, yet remain mysteries to the surfing world.

Stay tuned for our comprehensive guide to surfing in Argentina.

  • Prime Surf Season: November to March
  • Best Spots: Mar del Plata, Miramar, Mar Azul

Surfing Timelines in South America

In South America, the surf largely depends on strong south-directional swells from the lower Atlantic or Pacific. Generally, April to October marks the most consistent surfing period. However, due to diverse exposures, there’s often surfable waves year-round.

Surf seasons vary greatly across this vast continent, influenced by differences between the west and east coasts, and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It’s best to consider each region individually.

Regional Breakdown

  • Peru: April to October is prime time, with powerful S-SE swells hitting spots like Chicama and Mancora.
  • Brazil: While waves are consistent throughout the year, the best conditions in Florianopolis and Itacaré occur from May to September, thanks to the strong S and SW swells from the Roaring Forties.
  • Chile: The season runs from March to November, with the most intense sets typically in the middle months.
  • Ecuador: Distinctly different, Ecuador’s surf season spans from December to April, aligning with the primary NW swells, enhancing spots like Montanita.
  • Argentina: Prime surfing season is from November to March, ideal for exploring the diverse spots like Mar del Plata and Mar Azul.