Surfing in South America

Whether you are new to surfing or have been riding for years, South America’s epic coastline will give you an experience like no other.

No matter what your reason is for jumping into a wetsuit and picking up a surfboard ready to hit the waves, you are sure to find a destination perfect for you in South America. Head to Punta del Diablo in Uruguay and learn the basics at a surf school on Playa de Rivero or, if you’re a veteran, make your way to El Valle in Colombia; isolated, uncrowded and ideal for those who enjoy a challenge.

South America has a vast array of surfing hotspots with the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans along with the Caribbean Sea all offering unique swells and breaks. When exploring the coast, you will find bustling resorts such as Arica in the north of Chile, bohemian-chic towns like Jose Ignacio in Uruguay, and heavenly unspoilt hideaways including Brazil’s Ilha Santa Catarina; all home to fantastic surf. If you are new to the sport and wish to give it a try, South America has a huge selection of beaches perfect for beginners. The left-hand point breaks and lack of dangerous rocks at Huanchaco in Peru make this a great place to catch your first wave. This area is also home to the world’s longest wave, Chicama, so you may find yourself sharing the water with some dedicated enthusiasts. Otherwise, travel to Montanita on Ecuador’s south coast. By day you can enjoy the ocean, whose waves are ideal if honing your surf skills, but not a complete novice. Then, once dusk falls, hit the bars and party till dawn with fellow travellers and locals alike.

More experienced riders coming to South America purely for the surf will be spoilt for choice. If you’re trying to perfect some new moves, Mar del Plata – just two hours from Buenos Aires – offers safe, reliable waves. For something a bit more challenging head to Mancora, Peru. Famed for both its surfing and nightlife you will soon see it’s a fantastic base from which to explore nearby beaches. Alternatively, head to the cooler waters off the coast of Chile and ride one of the continent's most famous waves – Punta de Lobos. This iconic break is best left to the experts when the swell is at its biggest, but even if you choose not to ride it, admiring those skilled enough to do so is a thrill in itself.

Surfing in South America Highlights:
  • Witness the huge waves of Punta de Lobos, Chile
  • Visit Florianopolis, Brazil for year-round surfing suitable for all levels
  • Hit the waves with the rich and famous at Punta del Este, Uruguay
  • Ride the world’s longest wave at Puerto Chicama, Peru
  • Learn to surf in Cartagena, known for its smaller, friendly breaks
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