Brazil surfing holidays are much like its culture – varied and generally supportive of a really good time. As the largest country in South America there are a lot of beaches to explore, so what are the best Brazilian surf breaks?
Brazil surfing holidays
At nearly 7,500km in length, the coastline of Brazil is immense. There are reefs, sandy beaches, and rocky points all capable of transforming Atlantic swell into peeling world class waves.
In this area of the Atlantic Ocean most energy is of a southern origin. Meaning you’ll find most of the top spots for Brazil surfing holidays on it’s the southern beaches – especially on the island of Santa Catarina.
From the northeast of Brazil down to the south, the best Brazilian waves can be found in autumn and winter (April-September). During the summer months (December to February) the swell is smaller, but being peak holiday season the parties are bigger, so it’s still a good time for Brazil surfing holidays.
Because of the predominate southern source of ocean energy in this region of the Atlantic, great surfing on the northern coast of Brazil is harder to find. However, swells coming from the north are more common in the summer (December to February), meaning north coast Brazil surfing holidays are best in the peak holiday season.
Best Brazilian surf breaks: Southern coast
As this article is about the best Brazilian surf breaks, we’ll start with the southern coast where the majority of top waves can be found. But check further down for northern coast surf spots and a unique inland option to consider for Brazil surfing holidays.
Santa Catarina Island
Just off the east coast of the state of Santa Catarina is a great bet for surf and nightlife. The beach of Mocambique stretches for several kilometres and consistently picks up swell even when other spots are flat making it ideal for Brazil surfing holidays.
The sandy beach break is highlighted by shifting peaks which spread out the crowd and sometimes throw punchy little barrels. The middle to northern section of this long beach tend to be the best.
Needing a solid swell and correct sandbar and wind conditions to align, Campeche rarely turns on. It is the definition of a fickle wave. Chances are low you’ll score this Santa Catarina gem if you’re just visiting for a week or two, but you will hear legends of this wave.
When everything is in place Campeche is a rippable right hand wall lasting over 200 metres. With a sandy bottom and no-consequence wipe outs, this wave is a regular footer’s dream. Plan your Brazil surfing holidays well enough and catch it on one of the few days of the year that it breaks and you’ll be a happy surfer!
Guarda do Embaú
Not far south from the lower tip of Santa Catarina Island lies the beach of Guarda (Praia da Guarda) on Brazil’s mainland. A the very northern end of this beach is a river mouth which spills sand and forms left handed perfection and one of the best Brazilian surf breaks.
Locals are protective of this spot but catching a wave here can be as good as picking one off at Uluwatu’s Racetracks. Surfing is occasionally (and ridiculously) banned here for fish migration in the summer and perfect head-high days are known to pass without a single surfer in sight.
Host to more than a few professional events over the past few years, Joaquina Beach is located around the middle of Santa Catarina’s coastline. There is a rocky point which shaves swell into an unorganized, choppy, left-hand set up with numerous takeoffs.
But the point can hold a lot of swell and the shape only improves as wave height grows – up to triple overhead on the biggest days. Relatively close to Florianopolis, Joaquina attracts a lot of local surfers so respect is recommended here..
Surfing in Rio de Janeiro is taken seriously, especially at Arpoador. The spot is thought to be the birthplace of Brazilian surfing and locals treat it as their holy land. The set up at Arpoador is a rocky headland which creates left handed barrels that can hold a two metre swell with ease.
Southerly winds can dismantle the wave, but the normal dawn to dusk window is obsolete at Arpoador. Huge stadium lights from the headland light up the action after dark and lucky travelers are known to score here when everyone else is out partying.
Barra da Tijuca
Across the bay from Rio and east along the coastline, you’ll find several decent spots. This area is suburban and well populated, but the length of beach and quantity of peaks, especially at Barra da Tijuca, spreads out the crowd considerably.
Barra tends to be the most consistent beach break in the greater Rio area and is chosen annually for a several competitions. You won’t find epic waves and conditions, but chances are you’ll have a fun shoulder-high session with few people around if you pick the right place to park.
Praia da Vila Imbituba
One of Brazil’s finest big wave spots, Imbituba is a few dozen kilometres down the coast from Florianopolis. Swell enters around and between two small offshore islands and sandy bottom peaks offer lefts and rights.
When there’s a serious winter pulse rising from the Antarctic, this is the place to score. It’s also a good option in the summer for a less crowded, good-sized left when you don’t feel like doing battle at Joaquina and are mobile enough to have the option.
Often crowded because of its proximity to the city of Florianopolis, Praia Mole is a long stretch of sand with good shaped waves to the north on smaller days. A good spot for a Brazil surfing holiday because as one of the most reliable of the best Brazilian surf breaks.
This area won’t hold the bigger swells however, and everyone filters south to a smattering of sandy peaks instead. Hills to the west protect waves from otherwise devastating winds. Like Mocambique, Mole is usually a guarantee if you’re just looking for a fun session on sloppy waves without the agro lineup of Joaquina.
Slightly north of Imbituba is the wave often considered the best in Brazil. Two rising headlands protect a tiny bay and waves wrap around the southern point in a Waimea-esque fashion. The right-hand setup can hold a lot of swell and the wave features a barrel section after takeoff followed by a peeling, rippable shoulder.
The spot is a local favorite and gets crowded on solid south swells and high tides. But catch one here and it’s a wave you won’t soon forget and well worth a visit on Brazil surfing holidays.
Best Brazilian surf breaks: Northern coast
The northern coast of Brazil is protected from the predominant southern swells, but are still worth visiting on Brazil surfing holidays. Year round beginner and intermediate surfers will have fun, and during the summer months swells from the north can create some big waves.
Praia da Pipa
Although located on the northern coast Praia da Pipa is pretty much where the north and south facing Brazilian coasts meat. This means the right hand reef break benefits from swells from both the north and the south making it a unique surf spot in Brazil.
It is a popular spot for Brazil surfing holidays meaning it can get busy, but also making for a good atmosphere and great parties. There are local breaks suitable for all levels of surfer.
Located in the centre of the northern coast Jericoacoara is a well known kitesurfing spot and a well developed holiday destination that is well worth visiting. The right hand point break doesn’t get too busy, and is mainly suitable for beginners and longboarding.
The waves are best between October and March, so the opposite of the best Brazilian surf breaks in the south of the country. If the surf is not up, you can always have a go at kitesurfing or windsurfing as there are reliable trade winds and great spots for all levels.
Best Brazilian surf breaks: Inland
Not all surfing has to happen on the coast as tidal bores the world over provide river surfing opportunities. The Amazon – the mightiest river of them all – is no exception and may be worth including in your Brazil surfing holidays.
Nearly 200 miles from the Atlantic coastline, the city of Sao Domingos do Capim still manages to play host to an annual surf event of the most unusual circumstances. Make sure your Brazil surfing holiday gets you there for March, when a particularly strong tidal shift occurs drawing massive amounts of water into the Amazon River Basin.
The tidal bore forms a never ending wave surfable for over 12 kilometres – a magnificent sight. Unindoctrinated surfers are heavily cautioned before attempting to ride this anomaly. The surge is powerful enough to sweep up trees and debris not to mention the usual Amazonian suspects like crocodiles, piranhas, and snakes.
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