Colombia has some amazing surfing beaches on both its Northern Caribbean Coast and its Western Pacific Coast. Surfing in Columbia is gaining popularity as this beautiful country opens it’s heart to the rest of the word.
Some of them are easier to get to than others but any surfing enthusiast would be happy to know that there is opportunity for all types of experience levels and preferences.
The surfing beaches on the Caribbean coast are much easier to get to, are more tourist oriented, and tend to be a bit calmer. The Caribbean beaches are the best if you are a beginner, are learning how to surf, or are experienced and just want to get out and catch a few waves.
Surfing beaches along the Caribbean are usually closer to city centers and there is road access, walking access, and more amenities and accommodations.
The Pacific Coast, while much harder to get to, has some of the best surfing in South America. The beaches around Nuqui are the best in Colombia and are an adventure lovers dream.
Unfortunately, the travel is a bit difficult and accommodations are scarce among most of the popular surfing beaches. If you are a foreigner, it is important to have a guide or travel with someone who knows the area.
Most of the surfing beaches can only be accessed by boat or plane and that you are really trekking off the beaten path in many situations.
The good news is that you will be rewarded for all your hard work. Untouched paradise awaits you along with roaring waves and phenomenal scenery.
Hotels in the Pacific Coast are limited so plan on camping or sleeping in a tent. Make sure to be friendly to the locals as they are not used to seeing a lot of tourists.
The best time for surfing in Colombia is December through March and July through September.
Keep in mind that in Colombia the waves come from the South West between April and December and then, in January and February, from the North East. Waves are higher between April and December normally.
The surfing beaches of the Northern Caribbean coast are easy to reach and are more centrally located than the surfing beaches of the Pacific Coast. Most major beach towns have surfing beaches, some of which are easier to find than others.
Although the waves are not as strong as the waves on the Western Pacific Coast, there are beaches for all levels of surfers.
Predomar is a very popular surfing beach so it can get a little crowded. Try and go during the week. There are some fun bars along the beach and there are a bunch of locals. Consistent waves for all levels.
Barranquilla – Accessible by Car.
Warm Caribbean waters makes this a great beach for a laid back surfing vacation. Great for beginners, the break at Cartagena is located on the west end of Cartagena Beach.
This powerful beach for experienced surfers and is a great place to practice and learn new tricks. When you get to Puerto Colombia, ask for El Muelle and everyone will know what you are talking about. Puerto Colombia is just outside of Barranquilla.
Suitable for all surfers ranging from beginner to experienced. From Santa Marta take a bus from “El Mercado.”
A powerful wave for experienced surfers, accessible by car.
This empty beach is great for all surfing levels. It’s easy to reach by car or foot and you will have hours of consistent waves and definitely run into some interesting and curious locals. Go to San Andres, Punta Sur is on the south point of Island.
This easy-to-find beach has very strong waves and winds. Here you will find some of the most powerful winds on the Caribbean side without the crowds. Be careful of the current and sharp rocks. Leave for Barranquilla.
Located in Tayrona National Park, by the Mendihuaca Hotel. Great waves for the Caribbean. Keep in mind that Tayrona National Park can be expensive.
Located 30 minutes from Cartagena, 4×4 recommended. Nice wave.
The center of it all on the Pacific side is a sleepy little town called Nuqui. This has become a common base in the area for surfers as conditions have improved and new beaches have been discovered.
From Nuqui, you can find the right guide or tour to take you to your destination. There are various hotels in Nuquí, from eco-lodges to hotels—the people are friendly.
The best way to get to Nuquí is by boat from Buenaventura or by plane from Medellin.
For experts only and accessible by boat. If you are surfing here, you not only know what you’re doing but have some inside information.
Most locals don’t even know how to get here. This is one of the best surfing beaches in Colombia but is dangerously rocky and only for the seasoned expert.
We recommend finding a local guide at one of the hotels since you will probably not be able to find it yourself. The beach is a short ride from Nuqui and is uncrowded.
The place is surrounded by Jungle so don’t be surprised with all the birds, foliage, and animals you might see. Take a plane from Medellin to Nuqui and make arrangements through the hotel or a local business to take you to Pico de Loro.
Juan Tornillo is another isolated but fantastic spot for the experienced surfers. Like Pico de Loro, it is just a short boat road south of Nuqui. Talk to a local guide or hotel concierge for information on how to reach this great surfing beach.
El Valle is also only accessible by boat. To get here, arrive in Nuqui and then have a local bring you to this small town.
There is cheap accommodation and tourist friendly people here. The waves here are pretty intense so we recommend traveling with a guide. El Valle is known for its frequent, consistent surf, uncrowded beaches, and it’s beautiful landscapes.
A short boat ride from Nuqui, these beaches are more of a beginner friendly. Swells can reach up to 8 feet. Great place for lessons.
You can only get here by boat or plane. Waves are some of the best in the world. There are no hotels here at the time of writing this guide. Locals are friendly but travel with friends since this part of the country can be shady at times. Take a boat from Buenaventura. Then walk to the beach.
Colombia’s biggest international airport is Bogatá’s Aeropuerto Internacional El Dorado . Direct services from Europe to Bogotá are offered by Iberia (Madrid and Barcelona), Air France/KLM (Paris), Avianca (Barcelona and Paris) and Lufthansa (Frankfurt). Avianca also operates flights from Madrid to Cali and Medellín.
In North America, Air Canada connects Toronto to Bogotá, Lan and American Airlines connect Bogotá with Miami, while Delta links Bogotá with New York, Chicago and Atlanta, and Jet Blue flies to Bogotá from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
It’s also possible to fly from Miami directly to Santa Marta, Cartagena and Medellín.
In South and Central America, Lan links Bogotá with Lima, Santiago and Quito; Copa offers regular flights from the capital to Panama City, and Tam links the capital to São Paulo.
Avianca also flies to Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guayaquil, Lima, Mexico City, Panama City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago (Chile) and São Paulo.
Frequent bus services cross Colombia’s borders into neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador, though there can be security issues with both borders, so check in advance. Ormeño buses cover several international routes to and from Bogotá, including Quito, Caracas and Lima.
There are three main overland border crossings with Venezuela, the most popular being Cúcuta–San Antonio/San Cristóbal.
The Maicao–Maracaibo crossing at Paraguachón is useful if you are traveling directly to or from Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Expreso Brasilia operates a coastal bus service between Cartagena, via Barranquilla and Santa Marta, which passes through Maicao in the remote Guajira Peninsula to Maracaibo (1 daily at 7am; 20hr; COP$220,000).
The Panamerican Highway runs south into Ecuador, with the Ipiales–Tulcán crossing being the most popular and straightforward, though slow.
There is no overland crossing between Colombia and Panama due to the presence of drug traffickers, paramilitaries and smugglers, and the threat of kidnapping in the Darién Gap.
From the Amazon region it’s possible to cross to or from Colombia into Manaus, Brazil, and Iquitos, Peru, by taking a riverboat.
From Cartagena, adventurous travelers with plenty of time on their hands can take a sailboat to Puerto Lindo or Colón in Panama via the remote tropical islands of the San Blas archipelago.
Trips take four to five days and cost around COP$750,000 per person. Rough seas can make traveling between November and February dangerous.
Costeño Beach is an old coconut farm turned ecolodge and surf camp. Situated in the ocean front, along the beautiful Caribbean coastline of Colombia. It is just an hour drive from the colonial town of Santa Marta and 5 km from the world famous Tayrona National Park.
Costeño Beach is the only Surf Camp and Eco-lodge operating on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The Ecolodge offers 5 beautiful rooms built from the finest local wood by skilled artisan builders.
All rooms have private bathrooms, ocean views, comfortable beds, and solar powered electricity. Beach huts and hammocks are available.
At this camp they offer accommodation, delicious meals served by the on-site restaurant, beverages and snacks, surfboard rental (18 to choose from), and surf class if needed. They also offer nature walks to waterfalls, rivers, and nearby Tayrona National Park.
El Cantil has been catalogued by Lonely Planet Colombia tourist guide as the number one ecolodge in Colombia, and has also been featured in National Geographic Traveler’s favourite hotels in South America.
The surf lodge at El Cantil’s is the best place to learn to surf. You will have all the freedom you need to learn on an empty beach with easy waves to start with.
You can be sure there won’t be crowds of surfers on the waves and you will learn the basic skills you need on boards specifically designed for teaching beginners.