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.
Planning a surf trip to Brazil can be a little tricky, most people don’t realize how big the country is and might plan to visit north and south regions by car in two weeks.
Sorry to tell you, but you would spend most of your time inside your car and not surfing—not a good idea.
First of all, decide how many days you have, and start from there. If you have 2 weeks or less, it’s best to choose one region and explore a smaller region—I assure you will have plenty to see and surf.
Here is a surfers guide to Garopaba, Santa Catarina – Brazil.
Before you buy your ticket, don’t be a kook and check our updated Airline Surfboard Boardbag Fee Guide for Surfers.
Currency: Brazilian Real (BRL). U$ 1,00 = BRL 4*
(* today’s conversion 11/15—get an update here)
From April to September, the weather is mild or even cold (south Brazil) and southern region catches east to south swells. From November to March, is meltingly hot summer, during this time northern Brazil catches northern swells. Nevertheless always bring your full 3/2 wetsuit when you visit the south of Brazil.
In this post we will talk about Garopaba, a small coastal region in southern Brazil located on the state of Santa Catarina, known as the surfers state—you will understand why once you get to the end of this article.
Garopaba is located 55 miles south from Florianopolis (Santa Catarina’s capital) and has a population of 20K people. The region comprises of Garopaba Town and a few other small beach villages—you can surf in all of them!
The economy depends mainly on fishing and tourism. Which means: surf and beers everyday, helping the local economy. The main breaks are: Rosa Norte, Silveira, Vermelha e Ferrugem, all of them are driving distance to each other.
Just another summer day in Garopaba starts with a good surf session, while the wind is still calm. Then, go home, have breakfast, get some rest and prepare your stuff to go back to the beach and spend the rest of your day.
Chairs, sombrero, sarongs, water, sunscreen, camera, surfboards, etc. Arriving at the beach, settle down and go to the local bar/shack, order some fried shrimp and a cold Original Beer (local beer). Sit, relax and enjoy the view of beautiful people, white sand, blue ocean and the rain forest right behind you.
Surfing and napping is also mandatory along the day. At the end of the day, you will leave the beach starving, go to an “all you can eat” restaurant and be happy, or go home and make an awesome barbecue with your friends and more Original. Tomorrow starts all over again. Sound good?
First, let’s check the surf right now…
Arriving in Florianopolis Airport, you will need to rent a car. You can use the Airport Website to compare fares from different car rental companies and book prior your trip. Remember to ask for surf racks or bring your own Wave Tribe hemp travel racks and straps. Price average for a SUV is U$50/day.
Leaving the Airport you will take the freeway BR-101 direction south. After 50 miles, you will see a sign for Garopaba and turn left. You will enter a municipal road SC-434 that will take you to all the beach villages and the beautiful beach town of Garopaba.
There are many different options to stay, from luxury holiday rentals, B&B’s to simple fisherman’s shacks. The best option is to stay in a “Pousada”, they are kind of a B&B, but without the breakfast and most of them are safe (they have gates and night security).
Usually a pousada offers a self-contained apartment, simple furnished, full kitchen and a barbecue (very important!). It will cost you around U$15-20/night per person. The main grocery shop is in Garopaba is Silveira Supermarket, but you will also find some mini-markets around.
If you are feeling cheap, you can rent a simple fisherman shack for as low as U$8/night per person. There are 2 problems with this option: first they don’t have websites, so you might have to drive around and ask. Second, they are not very safe, doors are too easy to break into. Unfortunately there are bad people always looking for an opportunity to steal from tourists.
Here are some great resources for accommodation in the area:
Ok, now you have a car and a place to sleep. Let’s check the surf!
The main breaks are Silveira, Ferrugem, Vermelha and Rosa Norte.
To get to Silveira you need to take a dirt road from the main SC-434, close to Mormaii surf shop. The waves break on the south side of the beach, a nice right starts from behind the rocks and enter the beach. The beach is not developed, there are no bars around, so bring your all your stuff if you plan to stay there for the day.
It’s just 4 miles from Garopaba, follow the signs and you will be fine. It’s also a sand bottom and works lefts and rights. In contrast with Silveira, Ferrugem is very developed with many bars, lots of beautiful people and a good atmosphere—it’s a great place to spend the day.
Watch this video, this is just another summer day at Praia da Ferrugem.
You can only get there walking on a trail from Rosa Norte, 20-30 minutes. The beach has no development at all, you will want to bring some water. The bottom is sand with some rocks. Even if there is no surf, the trail is worth it for such amazing view!
Praia do Rosa has two breaks, Norte and Sul, or north and south. Rosa Norte is more consistent, the rocks on the coast protect the break from the north wind and you can easily paddle out thru a channel right close to the rocks. To get there you can park your car at Rosa Sul and walk along the beach, or park at the parking lot up the hill on Rosa Norte, then walk the trail down to the beach.
If you are travelling with your other half and want to take her/him for a special romantic date, Tigre Asiático located at Praia do Rosa is a great option. Asian food, candle lights, you know the rest.
There are some “all you can eat” types where you pay $10, get to choose one type of protein (fish, chicken or steak) and it usually comes with: spaghetti, salad, beans, rice, french fries, fried eggs.
You can always ask for more if it’s not enough. There is a really good one on the main road in Praia do Rosa, just opposite side of the road to Ouvidor. Wooden deck, easy to find.
There are a few small surf shops in Garopaba Town, Ferrugem and Praia do Rosa that would cover your needs, but if you are in town there is a bigger and more complete shop called Mormaii located in downtown Garopaba, they also have a nice café in the shop.
The night life takes place mostly during summer time, Praia da Ferrugem is the busiest place, it’s really a party town with many bars next to each other on the main road.
A good option if you want to hang for a few beers and music is Beleza Pura, a bar in Praia do Rosa main road and is open year around with live music on the weekends—beautiful people and flirting atmosphere, if you are single, that’s the place to be.
Met someone at Beleza Pura, fell in love with the place and want to live there forever.
Ok, that happens a lot. This is a magical spot in the world. Here are a few real states if you are planning to buy or rent a house. Remember to invite me for a visit!
Almost forgot, how’s the crowd?
In the winter the crowd is ok during week but is busy on the weekends. In contrast, the summer crowd is insane. Be nice to the locals, have fun and invite them to share some beers and you’ll get more waves.
Praia do Rosa Facebook Page here , you will find information about lodging, events, surf, restaurants, etc.
Praia da Ferrugem on Trip Advisor.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once wrote that “love is so short, forgetting is so long”.
Planning a vacation to Santiago, Chile—Neruda’s birth place is—is a must see. Though you can’t surf in Santiago itself (except for at the wave pool), as it is about 2 hours from the coast by car, you can prepare for some excellent waves near the capital and enjoy this fabulous city before launching into the Chilean coastal towns.
It is nothing short of an adventure in Pacific Coast Paradise. There are endless surfing opportunities—with 300 days of waves per year—and plenty of other things to do as well. In this article we’ll just talk about a visit to the capital. Though Santiago itself sits in a valley not far from the sea, it will likely be your jumping off point for any trip into Chile.
Santiago is the most populated city in the country of Chile and was founded in 1541, which lent it neoclassical architecture since its inception.
Because of its more recent economic growth, it is also juxtaposed with a more modern metropolis design, giving it a neat sense of time travel while walking through it.
Mountains of the Andes chain can be seen from most points in the city and tend to trap the smog from the rapid pace of growth and development.
The city is situated in central Chile, at an elevation of 1,706 feet, which gives it a temperate Mediterranean climate, with low humidity and mild winters.
The reliable waves and plethora of attractions, have secured Santiago as an enviable destination for surfers and travelers alike.
Santiago is filled with many different parks, museums, monuments and markets, all beautifully designed and centrally located, making it easy to explore. Spicy Chile Tours offers free walking tours of Santiago, with a mix of historical information and the best anecdotes and recommendations for enjoying the city,
Be sure to check out the beautifully manicured Cerro Santa Lucia Hill, which is centrally located, making it a great starting point for your exploration and a great start to any walking tour of the city.
Across from the hill is the famous Santa Lucia Craft Market, filled with traditional artisanal crafts that are perfect for souvenirs and a great place to see what people are making with their hands. There are several dozen stores offering various styles of clothing and hand crafted souvenirs—most of which probably are typical of Chile.
Also, not to be missed in Santiago, is the food. Santiago is known for its seafood, which can be found in many of its trendy restaurants. Aqui esta Coco has been popular among the locals and tourists, alike, for its innovative atmosphere and incredible dishes.
If you are looking for a way to relax and rejuvenate yourself, you can take advantage of Yoga Luka which offers a subscription of sorts to local yoga studios for just $2 a session. This gives you unbeatable prices for a variety of styles.
As for accommodations, Santiago is one of the more expensive cities in South America, so you can easily find nice hotels and boutiques to stay in during your visit.
One of the favorites is the Lastarria Boutique Hotel, which has a great location and a very chic yet homey feel; separating it from the more traditional hotels.
It is easiest to get to Santiago via airplane. If you are flying from the U.S., be prepared to pay the $100 USD tourist tax at the airport.
From there you can catch a cab, or a shuttle to your hotel.
If you’re heading straight to the Central Coast, then renting a small car is your best option, with prices from 100-150 US$ for a week.
If you are staying inside Santiago, then you can easily rely on the safe and clean Metro, as it is well-connected throughout the very large city. Metro Santiago has a metro system with five lines and 94 stations, with many holding rotating art exhibitions.
Trains run between roughly 6.00AM and 11.00PM, with each station posting the exact hours for the first and last trains. Buses run parallel to subway lines after hours. (Grab a free PDF of the Metro Map here)
Hotel Aruma is located in Arica very close to the pedestrian walkway that goes to the wharf, shopping district, laundry and walking distance to many different restaurants and services.
They have 16 not super large but clean and comfy rooms to choose from. The Hotel has a modern minimalist design with a jacuzzi to chill in on the roof terrace. They offer a yummy breakfast made with local organic ingredients and tea, drinks and snacks during the day.
Hotel Aruma has good wi-fi and safe parking in a secure lot across the street. The service here is by far the best they will go above and beyond to make you happy and do it with a smile.
With only a $20 difference between this place and other average places nearby, I would definitely stay at the Hotel Aruma.
Hotel Loreto is located a stone’s throw away from Barrio Bellavista, Santiago’s most heterogeneous and cosmopolitan area and is very close to the capital’s city center.
They offer all the usual stuff like wi-fi, satellite tv, heat and a safe deposit box. The biggest plus for this hotel is the amazing customer service they offer. The staff and owners will make your stay as enjoyable as possible and if you’re lucky might even give you some coupons for free drinks at a bar/restaurant near by.
The rooms are very clean and some have great views. The only complaint I’ve seen is that the larger room didn’t seem to have enough furniture and no closet to hang their belongings.
Also be sure to ask for a room with a private bath if that matters to you (does to me) otherwise there are small bathrooms across the hall. Be sure to stop by the courtyard which has an orange and pomegranate tree. Level 2 balconies have roof covers in case of rain and if it does rain they even offer loaner umbrellas for when you want to take a walk to near by Central Market or the Pacific Galleries.
Just looking for somewhere to chill? Well look no further than the ChilHotel cause that’s pretty much all you’re gonna get there.
It’s affordable, safe and quiet. With less than a 3 minute walk to the metro, strong wi-fi, a hot shower and a simple breakfast it’s a perfect place to sleep in between outings.
Do not visit Santiago Chile without having a “Completo Del Domino” Domino is an awesome little place to go grab some cheap eats, a cold beer and people watch while you rub elbows with the locals.
They have a limited menu but still something for everyone. The Completo Del Domino is the most recommended by far, it’s a hot dog made “Italian Chilean style” with tons of mayonnaise, avocado and tomato.
Sounds gross huh? Well apparently it’s not gross it’s brilliant and before you know it you’ll be pouring mayo on all your buddies hot dogs at your next BBQ.
Bahia Pilolcura is a little deceiving to the eye. When you first arrive all you’ll see is a fish market until you find the trap door that leads you down a rickety set of wooden stairs to the basement “dining room”, don’t freak out though you’re not in the middle of a horror movie you’re about to have some really good food.
They only serve seafood but being as it’s located right under a fish market you can imagine how fresh it is.
Try the outstanding ceviche or the grilled swordfish or just ask the waiter what’s fresh and recommended that day.
The service is eh, honestly after your food arrives the waiter will probably forget you’re even there but that’s OK just go back upstairs and pay when you’re done.
This is a cultural experience that you should not miss out on. Super cheap but cash only.
Want to take your lady out for a nice romantic evening after all the hole in the wall joints you’ve hit up so far on your trip? Then Maracuya is the just the place.
Located just outside of the Port of Arica, Maracuya serves lovely elegant traditional Chile dishes with a beautiful view of the ocean. Locals say it’s the best restaurant around. The place isn’t cheap but offers real value for the money. Time to splurge!
Sky Costanera is the tallest building in South America! Inside it’s a multi level high-end mall with movie theaters and restaurants but the main attraction is the top 2 viewing levels.
Many people recommend going the day after it rains right before sunset. The views are incredible. You really don’t realize how big Santiago is until you see it from that far up. There’s no where to eat or anything on the viewing levels yet but that’s OK it’s totally worth it.
Some reviewers stated they wished they had some open air access at the viewing level since they have to take their pics through glass but I can understand how that would be a safety concern. There’s never really too many crowds but it does cost more on weekends and holidays. Look for the signage above every window to help you pick out landmarks!
Fantasilandia is an amusement park located in Santiago. Great for
children of all ages and adults too.
At under $15 per person (as of 9/2015) it’s a great value! It’s no Disneyland/Six Flags by any means but there’s plenty of rides and attractions to keep you busy all day.
The bathrooms are clean and easy to find and don’t forget to bring a change of clothes cause you will get wet on a few of the rides. Some reviewers recommend taking a cab or the metro to get there probably cause the parking sucks.
Around Halloween it’s pretty rad, they stay open late and everyone is dressed up in crazy costumes!
Now for the surfing and what brings people from far and wide. Fall is a great time of the year to plan a surf trip, as the water has had all year to warm up and school is back in session, so the beach is less crowded.
It is also the time before the more temperamental winter has begun. The close proximity of Santiago to some of the world’s best surfing has inspired many surf schools in the area to open up.
If you’re looking for lessons check out Magic Chile International Surf School as the top loved surf school by tourists from all over the world.
Waves suck today? Well then head on over to Wave House to get your fix. Located in the Los Condes neighborhood in Santiago they have everything from Simulators, wave pools and climbing walls.
The instructors are great and the staff is always available to answer any questions you might have. There’s no hot water in the dressing room and the wet suits are a bit worn out so if you have your own bring it.
But if you’re looking for some waves right in the middle of the city, this is the place to go.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation, or one filled with action, Santiago certainly can be the place for you. Central Chile has a temperate climate, making it accessible throughout the year.
Enjoy the weather, the surf, the seafood, and the endless activities Santiago, Chile has to offer.
Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island in the world. Would you like to go there?
Traveling is such a gift—throw in some surf and a diverse culture at a far away location (sometimes really far) and you’ve built the perfect adventure.
A place I have dreamed about for years is Easter Island. This island encapsulates excitement, uniqueness and an unexplainable sense of mystery. Easter Island is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, so it must be rad.
Easter Island holds a truly extraordinary place in the entire world. The island has a unique archaeological history. I am sure you have seen you those megalithic statues or what is commonly known as Moai on large constructed stone platforms (also called Ahu). There are 887 of those mysterious statues on Rapi Nui.
Dude, I know you have seen them. it is unknown how or why ancient Polynesians carved more than 25 million pounds of stone to make the Moai.
Nobody knows: maybe aliens?
Keep reading because we’ll examine a few of the theories surrounding the statues and also talk about where to surf on the island.
Enjoy the journey, wherever it takes you.
Easter Island is also know as Rapa Nui. It is a Polynesian island located in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeastern most point of the Polynesian Triangle. The capital of Easter Island is Hanga Roa; bet you didn’t learn that in school.
Let’s check it out on the map so you can get an idea where the hell this place is located . . .
Easter Island is a territory of Chile (South America bro) which is about 3,600 km or 2,237 miles east of the island. The island is about 24.6 km (15.3 mi) long by 12.3 km (7.6 mi) at its widest point.
The island has a triangular shape. It has an area of 163.6 square kilometers (63.2 sq mi), and a maximum altitude of 507 meters (1,663 ft). There are three freshwater crater lakes on the island; at Rano Kau, Rano Raraku and Rano Aroi.
Easter Island Location
Due to its remote location, the island is hard to reach. By plane it’s 5.5 hours from the nearest continent with very limited options to get there. The only regular flights are via LAN Airlines. They fly weekly to Tahiti and daily to Santiago de Chile (from Easter Island). With no competition for fares on this route, fares range between US $300-$1200 round trip from Santiago.
Getting to Easter Island can be an expensive affair but, as always, good planning and research can bring down the cost considerably. Booking a flight/tour from mainland Chile can be very expensive.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]If you’re flying into Chile on Lan Chile, it’s not very expensive to add a Santiago Easter island return to your international ticket.[/box]
Easter Island can also be easily included in a trans-Pacific route if you’re flying from Australia/New Zealand via Tahiti to mainland Chile as there is a LAN Chile service from Tahiti to Santiago that stops at Easter Island, making it ideal as an inexpensive stopover for a few days. The same applies if you’re planning a round-the-world trip that covers the South Pacific and South America.
Once you have your flights arranged, you can opt to go online and book a reasonably-priced hotel and car (or hotel + tour package) separately at one of the many Chilean tour operators or online.
For more info see Wiki Travel
Archaeological evidence has shown that surfing was practiced on the island as far back as its settlement by early Polynesians, who used roughly crafted boards for transportation and fishing. Easter Island is a haven for surfers of all levels and has been for centuries.
In the early 1990s, the island found its way onto the surfing radar. The best time of year to surf on Rapa Nui is during January and February when the crystalline swells rolls in under a cloudless sky.
However, you can have epic waves at any time of year. But, be mindful of the shifting winds and the occasional rain storm. Tracking the tides is also necessary. The rocky shoreline is exposed during low tide, so you’ll want to keep an eye on those reefs and exposed spots when the tide starts to drop.
The bay at Pea Beach near Hangaroa’s town center is the optimal how-to location and good for a warm up session once you arrive. The crystal clear waters stack in perfectly at high tide, and your gal (or guy) can watch you while sipping a nice cocktail from the shore.
The best spots for adventurous surfers is along the island’s south side of the boomerang-shaped island, particularly the bays of Paka Ai and Papa Tangaroa.
On the west side, you will find large waves, much like Indo where the swells come out of deep water right onto the island’s continental shelf. Check the bays of Tahai and Mata Veri; the latter’s long waves are particularly well suited for big wave riders. The swells on both these sides allow for plenty opportunity. Rent a car and explore.
This video shows a few well known surfers that made their way from Hawaii to Ester Island and scored some great waves.
Surfing classes are informal, don’t expect Kelly Slater style lessons. The best place to saddle up with a board is at the thatched shack beside the tourist information center in Hangaroa, easily spotted by its bright orange walls. Mai Teao, local surf pro and instructor extraordinary, offers classes throughout the week barring inclement weather.
Call Teao (09-212-0473) the day before to set up a time for the following morning. He then will contact the local Chilean military outpost to get the stats on swells, tides and the forecast. A one-hour course including gear (board and wet suit) will cost 20,000 Chilean pesos for a private lesson or 15,000 pesos per person for a small group (half-day board rental only costs 10,000 pesos).
Classes are a great way to learn more about the island’s past, as Teao vividly brings to life the fascinating history of local surfing along with a retelling of the ancient myths and legends involving sea spirit worship and tribal practices. For more on surfing Easter Island see the links at the end of the book.
Dude, Easter Island is way out and there is close to no public transportation on the island. No trains, no buses and no ferryboats as well. But on the other hand, getting around on this small island is not difficult—taxis, rental cars, and scooters are at your fingertips.
Cars can be rented either by the day or by the hour. If they are rented by the hour renters usually have to take them for an eight hour minimum, and the cost is $50 USD. Keeping a car for a full day (24 hours) is obviously going to be more expensive.
Need something bigger? Did you bring your SUP?
The cost for a rental van is quite expensive running about $125 per day. The cost of gas on the island is relatively high and there is only one gas station located near the airport. You can find car rental companies in any hotel and as well as in the main part of town or at the airport.
Most people opt for a 4 wheel drive because of the nasty roads. But stay chill because taxis are always available to take passengers anywhere they want to go in the island.
You can rent a motorcycle, bike or even grab a horse (does not come with racks). With a car, it’s possible to see most of the sights on the island in a few hours. Most locals will also rent out their jeep to you (at a very competitive rate) if you simply ask.
Sample prices of car rental are as follows:
Explora Rapa Nui – Explora Easter Island features 30 rooms in one floor facing the ocean. The rooms extend to the north and south from a central building all having excellent ocean views. The lodge has welcoming indoor spaces which integrate aspects of the local culture.
Rate: $120 – $160 :: Website: No site :: Ocean Views
Tupa Hotel – Tupa Hotel is located 3 blocks from Hanga Roa City Centre and one km from Tahai Archeological Museum. Free private parking is possible on site.
Overlooking the ocean and west coast of the island, Tupa Hotel offers rooms with sea and garden views. Free shuttles to and from Mataveri airport can be arranged. A free Polynesian breakfast is offered daily.
Rate: $120 – $200 :: Website: http://www.tupahotel.com :: Ocean Views
Altiplanico Rapa Nui – Situated in Hanga Roa, this resort is close to Dos Ventanas Caves, Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert and Te Pahu Caves. Also nearby are Ahu Kote Riku and Ahu Vai Uri. In addition to a restaurant, Altiplanico Isla de Pascua features complimentary wireless Internet access.
Other amenities include a rooftop terrace and a garden. Guestrooms open to balconies with partial ocean views and feature safes and desks. The hotel features a pool and free parking. Anakena Beach is a 15-minute drive away.
Rate: $300+ :: Website: http://www.altiplanico.cl/en/altiplanico-easter-island :: Ocean Views
Chez Joseph Rapa Nui – Peacefully located in central Hanga Roa. Chez Joseph is 50 metres from the beachfront. It offers spacious accommodation, a tour desk, bicycle rental and free parking.
The Chez is centrally located, with local restaurants and bars within walking distance. The hotel conveniently offers a car rental service. Free transfers are provided.
Rate: $95 – $160 :: Website: http://www.hotelrapanui.com/en-us/ :: No Ocean Views :: Central
Mana Nui Inn – Mana Nui offers charming villas with balconies in Hanga Roa´s lively Tahai neighborhood. It is 10-minute walk from Hanga Rora diving centre and 50 metres from Caleta surf beach.
The town centre is a 10-minute walk away. A breakfast with seasonal fruits and freshly baked bread is served daily, and guests can use the barbecue facilities. For dining, Tahai Mall offers several restaurants only 10-minutes walk away.
Rate: $120 – $150 :: Website: none :: No Ocean Views
Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa – Situated near the beach in Hanga Roa, this hotel is close to Ahu Vai Uri, Ahu Kote Riku and Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert. Local attractions also include Puna Pau and Ranu Kau.
In addition to two restaurants, Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa features a spa tub. Other amenities include concierge desk and massage/treatment rooms. Guestrooms open to balconies with ocean views and feature televisions with cable/satellite channels. Other amenities include complimentary high-speed (wired) Internet access and sofa beds.
Rate: $250 – $600 :: Website: http://www.hangaroa.cl/en-us/ :: Ocean Views :: Luxury
Chez Maria Goretti – Situated near the airport, in the city center, this hotel is close to Ahu Vai Uri, Ahu Kote Riku and Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert. Local attractions also include Puna Pau and Dos Ventanas Caves.
In addition to complimentary wireless Internet access, Chez Maria Goretti provides a rooftop terrace, free parking and a garden. Guestrooms open to balconies with courtyard or garden views.
Rate: $110 – $210 :: Website: http://chezmariagoretti.com/ :: Budget
Lorana Hotel – Situated in Hanga Roa, this hotel is close to Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert, Ahu Vai Uri and Ahu Kote Riku. Local attractions also include Puna Pau and Dos Ventanas Caves. In addition to a restaurant, Lorana Hotel features an outdoor pool.
Other amenities include a poolside bar and a bar/lounge. In addition to balconies and refrigerators, guestrooms feature air conditioning along with safes and desks.
Rate: $110 – $210 :: Website: http://www.ioranahotel.cl/ :: Budget
More hotels here: http://www.easterislandhotels.com/hochezgorreti.html
The cultural development on the island has been fodder for widespread speculation. Since the island consists of volcanic rock, the early inhabitants quarried the material into giant statues, some as high as 14 feet, 6 inches and weighing about 14 tons.
This was the reason for the reduction of the rich forestry. The villagers on the other hand used the trees to transfer these giant rocks all over the island as early as AD 700. The majority of the statues are facing out to the sea and are lined along the shore. Their faces and bodies resemble similar statues in Polynesia but have evolved uniquely.
The statues represent male authority and power throughout the societal structure of inhabitants and it is believed that the statues are impregnated by sacred spirits.
Widespread knowledge regarding Easter Island’s eccentric statues has fueled many interesting theories.
One man wrote that Spanish armadas carrying elephants from Africa had been blown off course by typhoons and ended up on the island. The man goes on to argue that the elephants were then used as the force behind the movement of the said monuments. A man named Tom Gary suggests that Easter Island passes on energy to Mexico and South America, kind of like an energy beacon in the middle of the ocean.
The monumental statues of Easter Island have been the source of great mystery ever since the island was first discovered by the Europeans on Easter Sunday in1722.
There is lots of hearsay about the ancient monumental statues or Moai. According to the legend, the Moai “walked” to their respected places in Easter Island and some researchers say that it might be true to a certain degree.
On the contrary, California State University at Long Beach Archaeologist Carl Lipo and Hawaii Anthropologist Terry Hunt stated that, ancient Polynesian might have used ropes and manpower to “walk” the huge figures from the excavation to constructed platforms (reports from National Geographic). In fact, Lipo and Hunt made a demonstration; three strong ropes and as few as 18 people could possibly and easily move a 10 feet and 5 ton Moai replica a few hundred yards.
There are approximately 900 Moai or monumental statues scattered across the island. Some of these statues were placed facing towards the center of the island, on platforms or what is called “Ahu” that was build along the coasts. In local tradition, the Moai are also described as possessing “mana” or a beneficial power. All the giant statues on Easter Island have long ears, and some islanders still practiced ear elongation at the time the first Europeans arrived.
There is said to be a distinct difference between the statues at Rano Raraku and those on the Ahu which is that the statues at the crater have a pointed base, destined to be buried in the ground, while those on the Ahu have a flat base, so that they can stand on these monuments.
The statues at the crater are scattered around in a random manner, whereas the statues at the Ahu, when they were still standing, were perfectly aligned and in a group. Although the giant statues appear scattered haphazardly, they actually form three major groups on the inner slope of the crater, facing north, such that they all have their backs to the face of the volcanic rock from which they were carved.
Since researches haven’t found all the missing links of Easter Island’s culture yet, the reconstruction of their past wanders between myth and reality. One of the most characteristics legends of the island is the one of the seven explorers.
According to this legend, before the journey of King Hotu Matua, following the instructions of a clairvoyant, seven sailors came to the island in search of an appropriate place to settle and plant yams, food that was key for the nutrition of the immigrants. Two of them also bought a moai.
In fact, some deduct that the seven explorers symbolize the seven generations that inhabited the place, or maybe seven immigrant tribes, from which only one survived in order to mix with Hotu Matua’s people.
The researchers concluded that the king died 20 years after arriving to the island, and that he was succeeded by his older son Tuu Maheke.
The last member of this dynasty was Gregorio O Roroko He Tau, also known as the Child King, who died in 1886. Today, there is still a family who claims to descend from the great king Hotu Matua.
The type of religion that has characterized Easter Island from the beginning states a series of prohibitions and precepts, all of them related to what they consider sacred, and which receives the name of Tapu. The religious practice that persists in the island up to this day is called Ivi Atua, and it is based on the immortality of the soul. Their beliefs evolve mainly around Make-Make, the creator god, supreme god and he who is omnipotent.
The Mana is the mental, supernatural and sacred power shared by the chiefs of the tribes, their priests and sorcerers. In general, this power could be used for their benefit or it could be directed against an enemy in order to harm them.
It is said that the ancient islanders resorted to this psychic and supernatural power in order to transport the Moai, and that the statues walked to their destination because of it.
As for death, the islanders believed that, once detached from the body, the spirit would stay close to their family before leaving for the spirit world, located far away to the west.
For one or two years, the deceased’s body remains wrapped in vegetable bits.
Sometime later, when the decomposition ia done, the skull is detached and engraved. Finally, the bones are washed and placed in a stone chamber, where the spirit could meet with their ancestors.
However, the most important religious demonstration is the worship of the birdman, also known as the bird of luck. In the language of the islanders, it is called Manutara.
The date of establishment of this event is uncertain, whether at the end of the 17th century or the beginning of the 18th century. It is a ritual competition that was celebrated in the month of September in Orongo, a ceremonial village in front of the three islets of the island. In the biggest and most distanced of them, called Motu-Nui, the competitors assembled in the caves with much anticipation, waiting for the birds.
Whoever took the first egg of a Manutara (sooty tern) was the winner. Once they found it, the fortunate competitor swam with the egg on his head in order to give it to his chief, who was consecrated as the birdman.
Three days later, the Manutara egg was emptied, filled with vegetable fibers and placed on the birdman’s head, where it would remain for a year.
There are many beautifully crafted structures on the island, here is a listing of the main types that you’ll find and should explore.
Ahus – They are ceremonial structures dedicated to the worship of each descent’s deified ancestors, around which ceremonies, mortuary rituals, assemblies, initiations and celebrations for food distribution were developed. These sacred places protected by specific Tapu were reserved for the nobility, that is, priests, political leaders, warriors and worship specialists, as well as their multitude of servants.
According to local legends, these figures represented ancestral beings of special religious importance, and islanders believed they harbored the Mana, the impersonal and supernatural power that protected the communities that held it. The essential element of an Ahu is a high rectangular platform delimited by great blocks of carved or fixed rocks and filled with stones, gravel and dirt.
The upper part is flat and paved. It is joined with a terrace or square in front of it. Some platforms are astronomically oriented. The oldest structures date from the 6th and 7th century. Over time, these structures evolved and became bigger and more complex. Also, numerous architectonic, esthetic and worshiping elements were added, such as a frontal ramp to access the platform, lateral wings, crematoriums, statues and stone pavement.
Pukao – These are statues that carried cylinders of red slag on their heads. They can weight approximately 11 tons. Their meaning is ambiguous. Some authors point out that they are the representation of a hairstyle or bun; others say it represents a hat.
The absence of the Pukao in several statues suggests it is a more recent feature that was added with esthetic purposes.
Hare Paenga – Its shape is similar to an inverted boat. The floor is elliptic and is defined by carefully carved soleplates of basalt. The poles that supported the vegetal structure were inserted in the top side. The frontal side presents an exterior pavement shaped as a half moon. Generally, the inner space was much reduced and was used exclusively to sleep.
The average size ranges from 10 to 15 meters long by 1.50 to 2.5 meters wide. These houses were inhabited by people of high social status.
Hare Oka – They are houses with a circular floor. Their base is conformed by basalt stones. Studies point out that these houses were temporary rooms, which coincides with archeological evidence. In general, there are no domestic structures typical of other places destined for permanent occupation.
Houses of rectangular floor – Researchers have found around 250 houses like these in the higher areas of the island. The foundation is made of rectangular stones, inserted in the land with concrete. The superstructure is vegetal, but the shape is conjectural. Typically, they are associated to lithic workshops and great stone courtyards.
Tupa – These rooms were used by priests to execute astral observations and determine the beginning of the lunar year, the planting season, harvest seasons, religious festivities and the arrival of migratory birds and fish that were important food resources.
Most of the houses and rooms were built with hay walls and roofs, as well as stick shells. The houses did not have any windows, and sometimes, they presented a stone pavement in front of them.
Easter Islands Food and Drinks
When the resources were depleted and war broke out in the 16th century, the population collapsed. While relying on mainland Chile for decades, Rapa Nui is increasingly learning to be self-sustainable. For the first time in the islands history, they have begun to export products: papayas and beer.
In 2010, Easter Island began selling its first beer called Mahina, which is available as a Pale Ale (4.8%) and a Stout (6.8%). Both are one hundred percent natural and follow a double fermentation process.
Nothing like grabbing a beer after your surf or trek around the island.
On a side note, the company is partially owned by one time underwater diving champion, Mike Rapu.
You can as well drink the pisco sour, a cocktail made of spirits grape, lemon juice, egg white and powdered sugar (or pisco alone for that matter).
On Easter Island there is interesting native music that is deeply rooted in ancient traditions and legends.
The islanders are also good dancers, and seems as though their great passion is to sing and dance. The current dances and songs are stylization of Polynesian folklore and the more recent dances are the Tahitian waltz and the Rapa Nui tango.
Sau-Sau – A popular song and dance of Samoan origin that has become a characteristics dance of the island. Moreover, there are other popular songs as well as dances devoted to the gods, warrior spirits, to rain and love. This is the most important dance in every party. The women show all their grace and elegance through rhythmic movements.
Ula-Ula – This dance is from Tahiti and according to a doctor named Ramon Campbell, is a reminiscence of the original. Generally, couples dance separated from each other to the rhythm of the lively corrido, waving their hips softly from side to side, and resting their feet alternatively on the heel and the tip of the toes. The women make graceful arm movements, waving them from one side to the other in a very harmonious manner, and imitating the act of combing their hair with one hand and looking themselves in an invisible mirror with the other.
All of this is executed with a suggestive and captivating feminine grace. In this type of dance, there usually aren’t any provocative or indecent movements. The dancing is usually alternated with figures where the dancers bend their legs until the heels almost touch their backside in a crouching position, and then rises again, constantly undulating in a rhythmical manner.
Tamure – A graceful Tahitian dance composed of two main aspects. On the one hand, the dancers perform real acrobatics with their legs, as well as extraordinary rapid movements and fairly violent pelvic swings. The men who have travelled to Tahiti are the ones who perform this dance well. In counted occasions, the women dare to execute the steps and figures of the Tahitian tamuré.
Everyone like a little music and you won’t be disappointed while listening to the local music of Easter Island. Traditional music from the island consists of choral singing and chanting, similar to Tahitian music. Families often performed as choirs, competing in an annual concert.
Maea – These are hard and round loud stones that were beaten rhythmically and accompanied the singing groups. These stones were extracted from the seabed because they were resistant. The dances include rhymed sounds made with the throat, and the rhythm is marked with a wooden stick used to hit the ground, a long mallet shaped like a thin paddle called Ua.
Keho – A primitive drum made again of stone. A wide hole is dug in the ground, and then another circular smaller one in the middle, where an empty pumpkin covered with a slab stone was placed. On this stone, a singer or dancer bangs loudly with his naked feet following the rhythm of the music. The sound is obtained from the boom of the air contained in the hole, and the pumpkin served as a sounding box.
Hio (aerophone) – It is a sort of bamboo flute with holes. According to existent references, it must have had a pitiful sound. The Tahitian word “hio” means “to whistle” or “to blow”.
Kauaha (idiophone) – A naturally dissected equine jaw. The inferior maxillary bones preserve all the loose pieces in the dental alveolus, which do not fall out because of their shape. Two sounds are produced when the jaw (which is held by the front) is banged against the ground or the palm of the hand.
Ukalele (chordophone) – This instrument comes from Polynesia and also receives the name of Hawaiian guitar. The box is similar to the guitar, though a lot smaller, and it has four strings.
Guitar (chordophone) – Manufactured in the island, it was used a lot in the past. Today, most guitars are manufactured in the continent.
Upa-Upa (aerophone) – Button or keyword accordion.
Ahu Tongariki is the largest Ahu or stone platforms on the Island. Make sure that this beautiful spot is on your list. Although part of the Ahu was swept off the island in the 20th century, it has been rebuild since then and features15 large Moai. This gorgeous spot sits close to the island’s two volcanoes, the Rano Raraku and Poike. From where the Moai sit, they are perfectly aligned and face the sunset during the summer solstice.
The Ballet Kari Kari is extremely popular for tourists on the island and features local folk music. Guests can also join in the dancing and get a feel for the culture.
A must see destinations is the volcanic crater, the Rano Raraku. Located 1.9 miles from the city center, Rano Raraku was once the quarry that supplied material for 95% of Easter Island’s monolithic sculptures. About 400 moai remains in the area and show a visual record of how the sculptures changed over the years. The sides of Rano Raraku are steep on all but one side and surround a beautiful freshwater lake. The reeds that border the lake were once used by the residents of Easter Island for home construction.
You should also check out Rano Kau. This extinct volcano was formed by basaltic lava flows that date back to over 150.000 years ago. Within Rano Kau is a crater lake that features its own micro climate. The inner slope was the location of the last known toromiro tree in the wild until this unfortunate specimen was chopped down for firewood.
At the southwestern point of the island is the stone village of Orongo. The 53 houses that make up the village were discovered by archaeologists in the 1970s and were eventually restored to their former state. This village was once the center of the birdman culture. The birdman was devoted to bringing the first egg across the rest at Orongo. Orongo eventually became a ghost town until its renewal as a popular tourist site. For visitors to the area, this dramatic location offers a glimpse into the past glory days of Easter Island.
Don’t miss Anakena Beach, it is lined by Moai. The beach is very ideal spot for a swim. The road that leads to the beach passes an ancient ceremonial site that is worth a stop. The site features the Orongo or what the locals call “Navel of the Earth”.
1. Private Site
4. Research on Statues
5. National Geographic Article
Rio is one of those places on the earth that you always hear about and that you dream of going to one day—at least, that was one of my dreams for a long time.
My first trip to Brazil was back in the early 2000s and I fell in love with Brazil on first site (or first visit).
I think I have been back about a dozen times since that first trip and each time I go I discover something new about this diverse country.
In 2010 I moved to Rio and gave living there a go—I got to know the city well and I surfed every imaginable wave in and around the city.
Rio is crowded, polluted, dangerous and yet seductively attractive. it’s one of those places you fall in love with and never stop dreaming about your love affair—it’s like falling in love with a prostitute, you know it’s not good for you but it sure does seem like the right thing to do in the moment.
It’s going to cost you about a g-note to get to Rio, that is $1000 for you non-native speakers. It’s a long ass flight, like 18 hours from LAX and you usually have to stop in DC our Houston—there are no direct flights from Los Angeles.
If you go through DC give yourself a few hours between flights, I almost had a heart attack running to make my connection in DC—note to self, start running pre-trip to Brazil.
Once you land in Rio—and see the sprawl from the plane—don’t worry cause where you are staying is nothing like the area around the airport. It will take 45 minutes to one hour to get to your hotel from the airport. Watch you stuff on the freeway, smash and grab is a real thing.
There are a lot of neighborhoods to stay in but I suggest that you stay in the north (which is actually east but always feels like going north to me) near Leblon or in Barra de Tijuca. There is always a wave in Leblon and when it get’s big it will maintain shape off the rock point jetty.
Staying in Leblon will give you access to the fun areas of Rio, just hop on the boardwalk and walk towards the tall buildings or follow the local talent along the beach. If you stay in Barra de Tijuca it is way more laid back, the water is cleaner and the waves are spread out. The perfect trip is to stay a few days In Leblon and then move over to Barra de Tijuca.[box type=”alert” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Please read my article of getting a gun shoved in my face to help you mitigate the danger factor in Rio and my tips for staying safe.[/box]
You got two options for housing in Rio, private or hotel. If you got the cash stay at the Radisson Hotel in Barra, it’s right on the water and surrounded by great restaurants and shopping. There is a good sandbar right out front, grab your gear and get out there and check it from the window of your hotel.
If you decide you want to be closer to Rio then the Sheraton sits just a few minute walk from the main beach at Leblon. It is really in a beautiful location overlooking the ocean, though not really surf-able out front.
Just behind the Sheraton is a Favela, it’s a trip cause you are sitting in your hotel room (costs like $200 a night) and from the balcony of the room you can see the Brazilian slums—it’s sounds worse than it is, yet this is the contrast of Rio and something that you’ll have to get used too.
If you aren’t into the hotel chains then check out all the awesome locations on Air B&B, I stayed at this place in Barra a few years ago and had a nice time. It’s super safe and you can see the break from the patio—though a bit noisy during the day as the traffic can get heavy on the main drag.
If you are down for a more authentic experience I like what these cats are doing at Rio Surf & Stay. I almost stayed there on my last trip but didn’t pull the trigger—the reviews are good and I did exchange a few emails with them and they were super cool.
* For the touristy stuff to see check this online guide or the one at the end of the article has some good tips.
In Zona Sul, the southern part of Rio and the place you’ll want to hang, there are some great waves that are a walk or a short bike ride away, and for the others, there are buses that can get you there.
You might want to consider renting a car—though it is a pain to park and to secure all your surf goodies. I recommend taking taxis or find a surf guide that can cart you back-and-forth to the far-way surf breaks.
You’ll want to stay in the southern area, my personal pick is Leblon or Barra like I mentioned above, the swell always seems to be a bit bigger there and the crowds are friendlier than at Arpoador. However, if the swell is macking you definitely want to paddle out at Arpoador, that left gets sick when the conditions are right . . . here is a photo of an excellent day.
Prainha is the spot of Rio, powerful lefts and rights with an amazing backdrop. Prainha can hold up to 12-15ft, show respect to the locals as in any other situation. On a big day paddle out next to the rocks on the south end of the beach, really fun left. Prainha is a 45 minute drive from downtown Rio and worth the trek. There is a fun wave in the middle section when the tide is right. Don’t miss this wave!
Arpoador is beside the big rock at the northern end of Ipanema has one of the best lefts around, but also one of the biggest and most aggressive crowds. f you want to fight for position you got to paddle in at the base of the rock while the sets roll in, it can be daunting as you navigate the take-off zone. If you can get one up top it’s a blast—get down the line fast. Super fun wave.
Leblon is at the south end of the Leblon/Ipanema beach has a wicked right hander off the canal outlet and also a nice bowl in the same area on smaller days. It has the best vibe in Rio. Even when it’s small you can catch some decent waves here. Right next to a sewage treatment plant, can get very dirty.
Barra is an 18 km long beach with many different breaks, there are tons of sand bars and many good waves to be had along this stretch. Barra also tends to be protected from some of the nastier winds that plague the city and it is usually blowing off shore at the north end of the beach—which is where you kite boarders want to go. If you want to escape the crowds you’ll find some deserted beach break here, its about a 30 minute drive from Ipanema. It’s one of the cleanest beaches in Rio.
Grumari is where scenes from Cidade de Deus were filmed. It is a nice beach with a sandy bottom and easy left and rights. It’s about one hour from the city center and it wild and rustic. I had one of my best all time days here on a big swell. It is a beautiful spot and worth checking out.
Copacabana or Leme are a few breaks along this stretch. In front of Posto 5 and 6 have the better breaks. Takes a bigger swell to get in here but when it does it can be really going off. I’ve also seen some really good waves along the fort at the north end of the beach, there are several takeoff points as the swell get bigger, better for a longer board.
Ipanema has various breaks scattered along its stretch, it is also a hive of activity and a great place to hang. Arpoador is at the north end of the beach and Leblon is at the south end—you could walk the distance in about 30 minutes and you won’t be disappointed by the view.
Macumba is one of the more pleasant beaches of Rio, various left and right peaks with an offshore bank that works on the bigger swells.
Praia do Diabo is on the other side of the big rock is this little break, easy rights and sharper lefts. Good fun and better suited for a bodyboard.
Praia do Pepe is at one end of Barra de Tijuca, for wind-surfers and kite-surfers (possible to hire).
Recreio is over the hill from Macumba, good on the large south west swells.
Sao Conrado break is at the bottom of the favela Roçinha. Conrado is an intense, short wave, but be aware here due to the proximity of Roçinha, cleanliness of water is also an issue.[box type=”download” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Download this free tourist guide for doing those non-surf related activities around Rio which you should put some time aside to check out.[/box]
Let’s check the swell forecast . . .
I was blown away by this country and truly believe it to be one of the most untouched countries in the world as far as natural beauty. I mean, Chile is home to the legendary “Patagonia”, where though you cannot surf, you’re able to see a part of nature that only a handful of people have seen.
When you look at the length of the coastline it seems like Chile should have the longest coast in the world—actually, not even close. Chile ranks 19th in the world for coastal length and the top three countries with the most coastline are: Canada, Indonesia and Greenland (USA is 8th).
Ok, let’s get back to Chile.
The water is an electric bluish gray, barely any life can sustain existence, and the air is so clean it almost brings backpackers to tears. Chile has a special place in my heart. From the heavy lefts I surfed in Pichilemu to the fresh vegetable markets of Valparaiso, Chile will forever be one of my favorite places to visit.
As far as authentic Chilean culture is concerned Pichilemu and Punta de Lobos are two of the best surf towns to visit. You’ll catch a view of how this part of South America does business; hot dogs with mayo, chilly water, Pisco sours, and some of the tastiest lefts in the entire continent.
The people of Chile rarely sport anything but a smile, making surfers feel right at home as they travel around with their clanky board bags and salty hair. I spent 3 weeks traveling around Chile and saw the good, the bad, and the just straight up bizarre.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]I partied in Valparaiso for New Years, took a chick to the ER on New Years, and surfed into 2015 in some of the chilliest water I’ve every come across. [/box]
The entire country of Chile is a pretty gritty place, but as long as you don’t mind authentic Spanish culture and bit of poverty, you’ll feel right at home in this mountainous country.
Chileans have a very unique style and charisma, it’s a very positive vibe that they’re transcending to visitors, which is what made my experience so amazing. While you’re in Chile it’s nearly impossible not to see some of the most incredible landscapes in the world. You can drive four hours and find yourself in deserts, mountains, beaches, cities, snow, sunshine, caves, and just about everything in between.
Alright, the waves of Pichilemu are going to be more geared towards the more beginners, while Punta de Lobo is the hotspot for intermediate and advance surfers. Both towns are going to be giving you a solid left and the wave is pretty heavy.
Anyone who has every surfed Punta de Lobo will tell you how incredible of a wave it is. It’s a consistent left that can push you a few hundred yards and when it’s really working, barrel you to the third dimension.
There are a few different points at Punta de Lobo, so if you aren’t entirely comfortable with a barreling left, don’t be worried. You must be aware that Punta de Lobo is home to Quicksilver’s Big Wave Invitational, so the wave can reach over 20-30 feet without warning. Also, you won’t be surfing above a soft pillow, there’s a ton of rocks at Punta de Lobo, but there are by no means dangerous if you have quality surf experience.
Let’s check the surf right now . . .
Regardless of your surf level, the glassy waves of Pichilemu and Punta de Lobo will surely have you shredding daily and having a great surf adventure in Chile.
Most surfer fly into Santiago, Chile and move forward from there. You can either rent a car, or travel by bus. I found several flights with one stop for under $1000—which is damn good considering that it cost me $750 to fly to El Salvador a few weeks ago and the flight to Chile is 13 hours versus 5 to El Salvador.
The bus system is incredible in Chile and you can get just about anywhere on public transit (and the public buses are super nice), so I recommend busing around the country.
From Santiago you’ll be able to find several buses heading to Pichilemu, probably 4-5 per day. The bus ride is about 3 hours and it’ll take you about a mile from the hostels and cabanas of the town. However, if you have a car, traveling around will become much, much easier and you’ll be able to hit a ton more beaches.
Also, if you find that the wave isn’t working in the area, it’s super easy to just pack up the car and head further north or south.
Though they speak Spanish in Chile, beware that the tongue and dialect they use here is nearly impossible to understand if you don’t have some serious Spanish background.
As a fluent Spanish speaker, even I found it hard to understand a lot of the Chileans I came across. But luckily Chileans are just about the raddest South Americans in the game, so as long as you sport a smile and know how to properly share your space in the lineup, life is easy.
Pichilemu Surf Hostal: This is where I stayed, it’s a small little surf friendly hostel, located right on the beach. You get your own room, great for couples and people that just want to chill, not as good for surfers who just want to drink Pisco sours and rip overhead waves.
It’s about a 10 minute drive from the main Punta de Lobo surf break, so barrel hunters should find a cabana closer to Punta de Lobo. You get free breakfast and the safety of clean hostel at an affordable price, but the overall atmosphere of the hostel is pretty laid back. There’s an amazing
Cabanas Buena Vista: This is where I’ll stay if I ever return back to Pichilemu. It’s pretty close to the Punta de Lobo surf break, it has a hot tub (it’s so cold in Chile, trust me, you want a hot tub), spacious cabanas, and from what I remember, was fairly cheap. You really want to be able to speak some Spanish if you want to reserve one of these cabins, because the lady who owns them is 100% Chilean and knows very little English.
Hotel Rocas del Pacifico: This is going to be your standard hotel in the Pichlemu area, not what I’d recommend, but if you need a hotel, this is an option. You have to remember that you’re in a desolate Chilean town and there isn’t going to a Ritz or Four Seasons. That’s why it’s best to just splurge on your own cabana. Buy your own bottle of rum, eat your own food, which in the end will save you a ton of money.
My best advice is to look for accommodation in Pichilemu, because Punta de Lobos is strictly for surfing, accommodation is nearly non existent here.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Pichilemu is where everything is happening anyways, so finding a nice little cabana here is your best bet for a great surf trip.[/box]
Pichilemu is a pretty small town and is fairly easy to access, so don’t worry about renting a car while you’re in Chile, unless you want to hit numerous beaches on the coast. Pichilemu, like the majority of other Chileans cities is going to be super gritty, dusty, and authentic. Horse drawn carriages and Chileans smoking the peace pipe are not uncommon sights here, the vibe in Pichilemu could be described as hippie/surf/dirt bag, but that’s how I’d describe half of my surfer friends, so I’m not sure how much that’ll help.
One thing that you really should remember about Pichilemu and Chile in general is that it can be fairly expensive. Obviously if all you eat is empanadas, you’ll be able to live very cheaply, but from my experience in Valparaiso and Pichilemu, meals were very expensive. The best thing you can do for your wallet and stomach is prepare a few meals of your own each week.
There’s a ton of hotel/hostel/cabana accommodations in the surrounding areas, so choose a place that you think will fit your crew’s needs. Also, depending where you’re coming from, the water is super cold.
I’d been surfing Central America for eight months before I went to Chile and the water was unbearable for the first day or so. Honestly, the more neoprene you have the better; I rode with a 3/2 full suit, booties, and gloves.
But, there ain’t nothing wrong with a few hard nipples if Punta de Lobo is going to send you barreling 200 yards left!
My bro always dreamed of going to Peru, he is a goofy-footer and he mainly surfs rights in California. I myself loves rights but once I ventured down to Peru my vision of going left changed and once I left that country I had a new fondness for the going backside.
If you are going to Peru on a surf trip I’d recommend taking a few days to head into the mountains to visit Machu Picchu—now look I am a lover of the ocean, but I highly recommend that you take some time and visit this magical place.
Machu Picchu is one of those places but you’ll never forget, you’ll be transported to a different time, and the feelings that you’ll have while walking to the ruins we’ll remind you of the history of humanity.
Peru has mainly three surfing areas, the points in beaches to the south, the waves around Trujillo (this includes Chicama, sump report to be the longest left in the world, which I would agree with), and the third area is to the far north and include the beaches of Mancora.
Here is a quick map of Peru from Lonely Planet to get a view of the country.
I personally like the beaches around Trujillo, which offer a nice selection of beach break and point break. Trujillo is a short flight from Lima, that you should book as part of your original trip. Once you get to Trujillo, you need to take a taxi to Huanchaco—a town full of plenty of great places to eat and inexpensive accommodation right in front of the surf break.
There are several breaks to the north including Chicama and Pacasmayo, which serve up excellent waves and plenty of cultural distractions. The jewel of Peru is Chicama and any surf trip to Peru should be focused on this excellent wave.
We got very lucky on our trip because a major south swell slammed into the Peruvian coast and Chicama lit up like a Catholic Easter service and a Latin country. See the picture below.
Surfing is a very popular activity in Peru especially after the emergence of the Peruvian Surf Champions. It has produced world wide champions such as Sofía Mulánovich, 2004 female world champion, Luis Miguel “Magoo” De La Rosa ISA World Masters Surfing Championship 2007 leader, and Cristobal de Col, 2011 World Junior Champion.
All south and south West spots have very reliable swell from April to October. And from October to march north swell hit the coast. This means that during the south swell season you’ll be surfing around Lima or Trujillo and during the north window you’ll want to head to the northern region.
During spring and fall, short sleeves are fine, although long sleeves will work for the early or late sessions.
During winter time a 3/2mm rubber is OK. Booties are a great help to keep feet warm and protect them from rocks and shelves. Water temperature is not as cold as northern California but cold enough.
From Trujillo down you’ll want a 3/2 and if you get up north to Lobitos or Mancora you can shed the suit and surf in your shorties.
Going north or south? There’re tons of waves around Lima, but I wouldn’t hang too long in that city, it’s kind of a shit hole. No offense to any Peruvians that might be reading this, because you have so many beautiful places in that country, but Lima isn’t one of them.
If you do get stuck in Lima, There are some waves in the city, but the water is nasty and the crowds are horrific. Now once you get out of the city and drive to the south you’ll find yourself in an entirely different situation with tons of surf along beautiful shoreline scattered amongst the small villages of the countryside.
My advice it to get the fuck out of Lima as quick as possible. You should always be prepared to charge large waves if you are going south of Lima, but if you do not surf this size, still there are many breaks with fun waves. South of Lima is a perfect party place during summer and weekends are really busy.
If you wake up early, you can go surf while everyone is going back home after the nightlong party. Your main decision when visiting Peru, is to either go north or south.
Well actually, the decision is to either go south to the southern part of the north section or to the extreme North.
If you’ve read this article you know that I favor the beaches around Trujillo, but if you decide that you want a different kind of trip (and one not including Peru’s best wave) then you can decide to go South of Lima or to the beaches around Lobitos.
Side Trip To Machu Picchu If I were you, I would try and plan my trip for a 3 to 4 week window and leave a few days to fly back to Lima and up to Cusco which will put you at the doorsteps of Machu Picchu.
It’ll cost you a couple hundred dollars to get to Cusco from anywhere in the country by plane.
Once you’re in Cusco, Machu Picchu his a few hours away. You could do the whole trip in a few days and get back to the coast if you see a swell coming. For a complete breakdown of the specific waves in Peru:
North of Peru is one of the best places on earth to surf, many of locals from Lima have moved to the North for this purpose. In the North there are plenty of warm water waves, excellent seafood and not as many crowds as around the big cities. However, there are few beaches were crowd can be extreme like Cabo Blanco, and Máncora.
If you avoid the high seasons, you will be surfing great waves with only a hand-full of surfers. If you happen to be surfing during a very well publicized swell during the hight of the surf season then you will have lots of company including gangs of Brazilians—not something you want to see when you and your bro are surfing solo on that middle peak at Pacasmaya.
Chicama has good waves whenever a big south shows up. Some people swear that the extreme north of Peru is pure magic, but I love the waves around Trujillo.
Peru enjoys a privileged location in the heart of South America, turning International Airport Jorge Chavez in Lima into an international hub for tourism and several airlines that reach many destinations in South America.
There are several domestic flights connecting the local destinations. There are direct and stop-over flights to Lima from the main capitals of the world. From LAX I’d get a direct flight to Lima and connect to Trujillo, not even stepping foot in Lima.
When you decide to visit Cusco you can book your flight online when the swell drops, no need to lock everything in before your trip—leave some flexibility for swell conditions. The entry points by land are:
Peru has accommodations to suit every budget, especially in tourist hubs and cities.
There are several hostels at affordable price and on shared basis. But when it comes to surfing, you would always want to stay in close proximity to beach that offers good waves and are less crowded and in such cases it is best suited to go look for surf camps who will better understand your surf needs.
Ecuador has many beaches to offer quality surfing. I took a trip there a few years ago and—of course–I took my surfboard.
The coast of Ecuador is 2,237 km (1,390 miles) long. Perfect waves are available in Ecuador all year-round, and surfers enjoy the mild year-round weather, especially in the northern region where the weather conditions attract many surfers from all over the world.
Surf tourism is very important to the local economy, and the beaches offer significant enjoyment because of top quality waves combined with affordable prices for lodging and food compared to other surf destinations in South America.
There's also a national marine reserve off the coast, which has a gigantic whale population—whales are cool!
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands offer contrasting surfing environments. The Galapagos are remote, 563 mi west of continental Ecuador, quite fickle and rocky. It's an island—95% of it is national park.
Whilst mainland Ecuador can be party-mad and offers a multitude of accessible sandy beach barrels through to long points and reefs.
They do however share the same exposure to both north and south swells; both will suffer decay before reaching their shores but what does arrive, as a consequence is of high quality, losing much of the short period associated with locally generated swells.
November to March being the primary swell season. Ecuador's surfing is focused around the northern reaches of the country and the famous surf town of Atacames.
Water temperatures between the Galapagos and Ecuador are also divergent, the former being in the path of the Humboldt Current and a good few degrees cooler.
Trade winds blow from a southerly direction all year, swinging more easterly for the Galapagos and westerly for Ecuador, though mornings are typically offshore on the mainland. Ecuador is known primarily known for its right point breaks, but the country has a wide and diverse coastline, offering up hollow beach breaks and reef breaks as well.
This zone extends from Bahia de Caraquez (about 1 hr north of Manta) through Canoa and north to the Mompiche area in Esmeraldas province.
Bahia is not a major surf town except on giant SW swells when it has one of the best left point breaks in Ecuador.
The Canoa zone contains a series of river mouths and sand points that come alive on NW swells and produce fun rippable waves over a sand bottom that is more forgiving in most areas.
This is a great area for beginners and intermediates. Mompiche is Ecuador’s most famous world class left point break that comes alive on big NW swells which Ecuadorian surfers wait patiently for and then descend on it. Fortunately it is remote enough to still catch it and especially some of the surrounding waves reasonably uncrowded from time to time.
This zone extends from Manta where the coastline faces due North with dead-on exposure to winter Northwest swells at several point and jetty breaks, out to the San Lorenzo Cape, a rugged zone containing a series of remote point and reef breaks which work on a wide variety of swell directions and tides with varying wind protection, and finally to the south facing end of the cape which contains some of Ecuador’s hollowest beach breaks and river mouths.
All in all the Central Zone has Ecuador’s most uncrowded surf. Here on any given day you can regularly expect to surf with almost no one, but this zone also has the most difficult access and hard to read conditions so that you could waste a lot of time here checking spots for nothing, making local knowledge and experience crucial to scoring.
This zone is located between the Central and Southern zones on a less populated stretch of the coastline. Wave hunters base camp and bungalows are located here and the break out front is an exposed beach break breaking right and left depending on the swell, offering a wide variety of options for all levels of surfers.
If a dominant North swell is showing, the beach lights up like a point break with rights peeling on the outside for about 200 yards then to an inside section that barrels hard.
If you catch a South or West swell, the conditions will vary depending on tides with many empty left and right peaks to ride, but never the less the waves are rarely flat.
If you are learning with a surf school, they will take you out when the tide is low in the surf and close to shore to judge your ability.
However, if you are an advanced surfer incoming tides always bring bigger surf with an outside peak just a short paddle away. The best part about this beach is the lack of crowds due to our remote location in a very large mountain range. You will surf alone. Our beach breaks year round with little to no crowds.
This zone includes the popular beaches of Las Salinas and Montanita. These breaks are best on SW swells but some also work very good on NW. Las Salinas is the backyard for Guayaquil based surfers who are only 2 hours away.
The coastline around Las Salinas here is indented and contains a variety of points, reefs, jetties, and beach breaks with sometimes restricted access that has to be negotiated. Montanita is a Bohemian surf mecca and party town frequented by international youth and backpackers as well as active lifestyle South Americans.
Some of the more popular spots can still be surfed with reasonable crowd levels very early mornings (when a lot of surfers are hungover or just closing the bars). Surf guides can easily transport you away from the more crowded spots to surf uncrowded waves in and around this zone within a reasonable driving distance while you may enjoy the social atmosphere, beach activities, and nightlife.
Some of the most popular surfing spots in Ecuador, which also have links to their own Wikipedia pages, include:
Atacames – A beach town located on Ecuador’s Northern Pacific coast.
The Galapagos are an area of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean and are 500 miles from the mainland coast of Ecuador mainland. San Cristobal is a favorite spot in the Galapagos for surfing, where the surf is from both the North and South Pacific, and the “surf season” is from December until May.
However, people surf all year round in the Galapagos & Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands stand ready, willing and able to funnel NPAC swells into perfect reef surf. Manta made a name for itself in the surfing world in 2004 by hosting the Body boarding World Cup.
Montañita – It is one of the better spots to surf with waves in the months between January to March are as large as 2 meters.
Playas is a coastal city located in the province of Guayas, Ecuador.
Punta Carnero – is a popular surfing location, and the beach been chosen many times for national and international surf competitions.
Salinas was the site of the ISA World Junior Surfing Games Ecuador in 2009.
Ecuador’s prime surf season is from December to April. This is the season of NW swells generated by winter storms in the North Pacific ocean and NW-SW combo swells (or West swells), transitioning into the Southern hemisphere swell season. Winds during this time of year are predominantly glassy to offshore along most of the coast resulting in often good to epic conditions.
During this season Ecuador is a world class surfing destination and one of the most consistent places to score tropical waves during the Northern hemisphere winter. El Nino Years (when the Pacific storm track drops further south) are particularly legendary in Ecuador.
May-November has dominant onshore winds (S-SW) along much of the coastline although mornings can still be glassy. This season is very good especially for beginner to intermediate surfers just looking to enjoy some really fun uncrowded waves off the beaten track, or for someone passing through Ecuador or this part of South America who wants to drop in.
Probabilities for Ecuador to see swell over 3 ft and 13 ft between 280-315 degrees (top graph) and between 200 and 315 degrees (bottom graph). January is the best month to see appreciable NPAC swell in Ecuador.
There are higher chances to see larger, more significant swell from the South Pacific from April through September, but winds aren’t as good then. Average wind speeds (top) and directions by month (bottom) for a point just offshore Montañita, Ecuador.
Notice the speeds diminish and turn more southerly during December through March. This suggests better potential for light offshore to variable winds in the mornings before afternoon sea breezes kick in.
Ecuador has incredible surf variety. There are an equal proportion of rights to lefts, and an equal proportion of points, rock reefs, jetties, river mouths and beach breaks. Some of the breaks, depending on their orientation, work best on north swells, others on south swells and others on combo or “West” swells, making Ecuador a very dynamic surf destination.
In general the breaks are very tide sensitive. An approximately 2 meter(7 foot) tidal range will make or break a lot of the spots. Most spots are also heavily direction sensitive and swell dependent, some being magnets for swell and others needing larger swells to turn on.
Wind is another variable to throw in as some spots are more protected than others. The vast majority of breaks are not visible from the main highways and require turnoffs at unmarked roads and some time to reach, which means you can waste an incredible amount of time looking for surf here if you don’t know where to go and when to go.
The answers to these equations rely on a combination of surf forecasting, years of local knowledge, and cell phone communications with friends (spotters) up and down the coast.
If you have enough time you could always discover many secret and semi-secret spots with no crowd factor. By contrast, if you go to Montanita, Ecuador’s best known surf spot, expect to find a few dozen surfers, mainly locals, hugging a tight take off zone on the point.
Direct flights to Ecuador’s international airports in Quito and Guayaquil depart from a relatively small number of places outside of Latin America. In the United States, regular services leave from Miami, Houston and Atlanta; in Europe, they go from Madrid and Amsterdam.
Higher prices are likely in the July to September high season and during December. Popular combinations are Quito and Lima, or Quito and La Paz, and tickets cost about the same as a normal return.
Ecuador is too small to warrant its own airpass, but is included in larger networks, such as the LAN airlines Airpass , which links LAN destinations and offers further discounts if you have a transatlantic ticket with them.
While there are few direct routes to Ecuador, it’s easy to pick up connecting flights to the main hubs. Approximate flying times from the US to Quito without stops are four hours from Miami, and around five hours from Houston and Atlanta.
Quito is about seven and a half hours from Toronto and Montreal, or about ten hours from Calgary and Vancouver. Prices range from around US$450 return from Miami, US$700–900 from Houston and CAN $900 from Toronto, but shop around, as prices can vary greatly.
There are no direct flights to Ecuador from Britain and Ireland, but there are plenty of indirect flights to both Quito and Guayaquil involving a change of plane in either a European or American city. Typical journey times are between fifteen and seventeen hours, with Iberia and American Airlines offering marginally faster services. You can expect to pay around £550–800 return including tax in the low season and £650–900 in the high.
There are no direct flights to Ecuador from Australia or New Zealand, though there are two main indirect routings, one via Santiago in Chile, the other via the US. The most straightforward is the Qantas/Lan Chile route from Sydney to Quito and Guayaquil, stopping in Auckland and changing in Santiago. Typical travel times are around 25 to 40 hours. Expect to pay at least A$1700 from Australia, and NZ$1800 from New Zealand.
To get to Ecuador from South Africa, you’re best off flying to a South American hub, such as São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago or Lima, from where there are ongoing services to Quito. Johannesburg to São Paulo with Varig is a ten-hour flight costing upwards of around ZAR5000. From São Paulo there are direct flights daily to Quito with Taca, which take another eight to nine hours.
Surf camps can offer a variety of accommodation such as apartments, hotels, rooms, camping or dormitories together with food, surf lessons and group activities.
Often included are guided surf tours of the best local spots along with surf hire, videos, photography, professional coaching and even some night life. The prices offered by them are best in South America and it is also quite affordable. Some of the popular surf camps are Waterways, Live the Life, Bungalows La Buena Vida Surf and Stay , Galapago Surf Camp, Balsa Surf Camp.
Chile is widely known as the goofy footer’s paradise.
Chile has some great surfing, especially in the northern region where the weather conditions attract many surfers from all over the world—Chile is the Northern California of South America and the home of my favorite poet Pablo Neruda.
Surfing in chile is possible all year except for the winter months, unless you bring your tow-in gear.
The water temperature ranges from 15 to 20 °C (59 to 68 °F).
The further south you travel bigger the waves and swell, most surfers concentrate on the central to norther parts of the country.
Chile has a very short surfing history. The first local surfer dates from the beginning of the ’70’s.
Chile has been increasingly in the international spotlight these last few years for its consistency, infinity of spots, huge, perfect waves (nearly all lefts), and crowds that some have compared to California in the ’50s. Led by three of the best Chilean surfers, Ramon Navarro and Cristian Merello, a local big-wave chargers from Pichilemu and Diego Medina, winner of the 2005 Billabong XXL
Paddle Award for a monster caught at Punta de Lobos, a solid Chilean scene is starting to emerge and progress at a quick pace.
Chile can be separated roughly into three big regions.
The northern regions hold mostly Hawaiian-style reef-breaks. The north has the driest desert in the world, and its rocky bottoms produce some of Chile’s most powerful and hollow waves, which easily break a lot of boards, so be sure to bring a good quiver.
The central region, which is the most accessible for its proximity to Santiago, offers many spots that are for the most part friendly, but beware: 15-foot-plus days are not uncommon, and 25-foot-plus happens on a regular basis. The Central region mostly hold the left-hand point breaks.
Then there’s the south region, a pristine, green environment overlooking an infinity of left tubing point breaks waiting to be explored. Similar to that of Central region, South holds most left-hand point breaks.[box type=”info” size=”large”]300 days a year of surf.[/box]
With a national average of 300 days a year of surf, it is very unlikely to fall on a long flat spell. Swells hit the 4,000-mile coast of Chile year-round, and they can hit hard. Respect the locals and the environment, be careful of Pisco intoxication, be curious, explore, and you’ll spend probably one of the best surf trips of your life here.
While surfing in Chile one should be aware of the different weather conditions that varies according to region. Chile has a variety of climatic conditions ranging from subtropical to tropical temperate and near polar due to its great lengths.
Chile can be divided into three climatic zones, (1.) the north which includes the Atacama Desert which is characterized by arid and dry conditions. (2.) The central region of Chile which has a Mediterranean climate with mild wet winters and long dry summers and (3.) the south which is cold and wet with prevailing winds of gale intensity.
Rainfall increases from almost nothing in the Atacama Desert in the north to 5,080 mm (200 inches) in the south. Average annual temperature ranges in Santiago are from 3 to 14 degrees Celsius (37 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 12 to 29 degrees Celsius (54 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.
The cold waters of central and southern Chile can be brutal to surf, therefore, surfers adventuring into those areas are strongly advised on using a protective wet suit to protect against the elements.
There are many Surf Schools around Chile and they are located in close proximity to the popular surf spots. The major surf school include Magic Chile International Surf School where Surfing lessons are taught to tourists with such a passion that you will want to surf all the more.
Surf Lodge Punta de Lobos is a stunningly designed lodge located on a hill top in the heart of Chile’s surf coast. If you stay there you will get to experience a wide choice of world class waves without the crowds. The stay at Surf Lodge will allow you to experience super consistent surf, world class big waves and abundant empty breaks.
Deep Connection Adventures aims to deliver a high quality experience for those who love the sea and its waves, who wants a unique experience, from the last corner of the world. The surf rentals are way cheaper than anywhere else in South America.
Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago is the main gateway into Chile. From there, you’ll be looking at a road trip that could range from five hours (to Pichilemu) to 20 or more, depending on how far south you want to go.
Visa’s are available upon arrival, but be aware that citizens of many countries will have to pay a “reciprocity tax” when they arrive in Santiago. Airport code is SCL.[box type=”info” size=”large”]By Pablo Neruda
Whom can I ask what I came to make happen in this world?
Why do I move without wanting to, why am I not able to sit still?
Why do I go rolling without wheels, flying without wings or feathers,
and why did I decide to migrate if my bones live in Chile?[/box]
Some of the most popular surfing spots in Chile are:
Located south west of Santiago, Pichilemu is the number one surf spot in Chile.
This town is the host of the annual national championships and also known for hosting some Internationally Popular Surf competitions. Pichilemu offers something for every kind of surfer from Beginners, Intermediate to Advance level surfers.
Beginners usually try to catch their first waves at the beaches of Las Terrazas or La Puntilla. While more skilled usually hang out at Infiernillo, and only the most experienced surfers adventure into Punta de Lobos where the waves can get up to 6 meters high.
The Locals here are so courteous and always ready to offer help.
Ritoque is one of Chile’s most beautiful places for surfing. On the 13 kilometer long Ritoque beach waves can get as high as 7 meters. It is located just north of Viña del Mar.
Close by the city of Arica is the Playa Gringo, whereas the name tells many US Americans go to surf. Even though there are spots with rocks in the water, the qualification for the national championship takes place there. Waves can get up to 4 meters high.
Totoralillo is located 12 km to the south of Coquimbo and 450 km at the north of Santiago. This Tahiti style beach, white sanded and clear water, offers all level surfers 6 different waves to enjoy: Derecharcha, Punta, Cabañas, Muro, Cacho and Pipe, right and left waves. It counts with a surf school, and different cabins where to stay.
Ok, I know I usually write about green business and everything ecological, but let me start by saying there is nothing more organic than staying alive (keep reading).
I have been through some crazy situations in my life but this hits the top three for sure.
I have lived through a category 5 hurricane in Jamaica, I was chased by armed bandits by car through corn fields in the hills of Puerto Escondido, and I was on a boat in Indonesia (returning from G-land) when ‘the’ tsunami hit. However, the event that happened a few weeks ago in Rio, Brazil, in some ways trumps all of the aforementioned.
I am still unraveling the feelings around the experience and not sure where those disjointed perceptions will land.
While on a surf trip to Brazil this summer my partner and I went to dinner down the road from our apartment in Barra, a suburb of Rio. This particular restaurant had the best pizza I have ever had in Brazil: the cheese tasted like it’s flown in straight from Italy and the garlic was fresher than a northwest swell in October.
During dinner we spoke a lot about our stay in Rio, in fact we were leaving the next day so it kind of felt like a review of the last few weeks of our trip. The conversation was super positive, people had been so gracious to us, kind and helpful—everyone from the bus drivers to other surfers in the water.
We finished dinner and went to take a bus home. We discovered that you can take a bus for $2 or a taxi for $20 and as we’d learned the lay of the land, we had tried to take more buses than taxis.
Unfortunately we got on the wrong bus. Once we realized it, we got off and tried to figure out where the next bus stop was. We saw one a few hundred yards down the road and walked to it to wait for our ride home.
We stood there alone and I had a strange feeling inside, like something was not right or was about to happen.
And then it did.
As we were standing there, two guys on a motorcycle rode up to us in the dark. I stepped forward to see what was up and once they got closer I noticed the guy on the back had a strange look on his face.
I looked down at the rider’s hands and he was pointing a .45 Magnum at me. You see, I know a thing or two about guns, in a previous life (earlier in this one) I would have been the one holding a gun (with a badge) and I put guys like this one behind bars. Maybe in some kind of twisted universe this was my karma.
A .45 will rip a hole through you big enough to put your entire arm straight through the exit wound. As they approached the gunman said something in Portuguese but even if he had screamed in my ear I wouldn’t have heard what he said, my whole world and all my senses were concentrating on that gun. In what seemed like a nanosecond
I told my partner to run and we bolted out of there like lightning running toward the oncoming Brazilian traffic. We didn’t turn around until we had sprinted quite a distance, there was no sign of them following. We ran across the road and flagged down a taxi to take us home.
There is nothing like having a gun stuck in your face to get a little perspective on life.
It’s strange because in that split second that I saw the gun I had no fear, I knew exactly what I had to do and there was no question about intent or motive. The guy was too far away from me to charge him and I knew instinctively that it would be difficult for him to hit a moving target (i.e. us running) from the back of the motorcycle as they inched forward in the opposite direction.
Let’s be clear, it wouldn’t have been impossible, a bullet travels much faster than a human but I knew that was the chance we had to take. I also knew that even if we gave them our wallets and money they could still have shot us dead in the street, and I wasn’t going to test that theory.
I know how ruthless Rio gangs are and if you haven’t seen the movie Cidade de Deus based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Paulo Lins, you must watch it to get an understanding of how easily a life can be taken.
I knew that I’d go down fighting or running my ass off, I hedged on the latter as our best option and somehow all my instincts knew this and I ran like a cheetah.
Of course later I doubted everything, I should have tackled the motorcycle, I should have gone Bruce Lee on them and done a flying Jeet Kune Do kick.
I should have taken the bullet for my lady as she got to safety, but the reality is that what happened happened, and nothing else matters. I never thought I would die taking a bullet in Rio, but damn, you just never know what life is going to deal you.
I wanted to write about this experience to help remind you of the preciousness of life and also to pass along a few tips if you happen to venture to Brazil for a surf trip:
1. Don’t hang out in dark places at night, stay in well lit areas.
2. Stay in a hotel close to the beach that has security.
3. If anyone approaches you by motorcycle don’t stick around to see what they want.
4. Don’t take a bus at night in Rio, grab a taxi.
5. Celebrate your life TODAY, you never know when it will be over.
Life is about clear perception and how you show up in each moment, it’s about the awareness surrounding your daily movements, and it’s about a vital living action. This is why we all love surfing so much, it puts us in ‘the zone’ with very little effort. I hope these tips will help you have a safe trip as you venture to unknown places in search of that perfect wave.