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.
Playa Dominical is a hippie haven for surf junkies and yogis alike, for this little slice of paradise is one of the least developed beaches in the entire country. Apart from being the cheapest, safest, and arguably, most authentic, Playa Dominical offers one of the largest waves in the country.
The surf report for Dominical normally turns off the less experienced surfers, so most of the time you surf here, it’s going to be pretty empty. That’s not to say you’ll get a 1pm lineup to yourself, but if you’re an early riser, bet on getting pitted for 2+ hours.
Unlike the other beaches in Costa Rica, Dominical virtually has no resorts or hotels. If you look back at the beach from the break line, all you really are going to see is lively palm trees and a few pieces of driftwood. There aren’t any buildings above 2 stories, so the vibe here is very simple, happy, and surf oriented.
This desolate beach offers a few different points, so there’s always plenty of room for everyone to catch a few beauties. Depending onyour skill (and fear) level, you can find the best wave of the area right next to the river mouth, but I’ve seen barreling waves just about everywhere in Dominical. Thefirst time I surfed Dominical I instantly fell in love with everything about the waves.
Playa Dominical is a strong barreling wave, where the wave holds size without closing out, but with a strong wave comes consequences. Don’t be surprised to see broken surfboards and unexperienced surfers being pulled out to sea. As long as you can hold your own through a strong riptide and overhead wave, I wouldn’t worry to much.
For the surfers that are less experienced, but still want to be able to stay and surf near Dominical, should head to nearby (1km) Dominicalito. These waves are considerably smaller and rarely get over shoulder height, allowing beginners to enjoy a day on the water without worrying about breaking a rental.
The first day they rolled slow, the second day some power developed and we were cutting back like nobody’s business, and by the end of the week, we were dropping in on double overheaders. I haven’t had many better days of surf in my life, so if there’s a fresh swell coming in through Dominical, my advice is: call in sick. Especially if you’re getting high tide at around 5:00am/5:30pm, those are going to be the best days to be surfing Dominical. I always prefer to surf two 1.5 hour sessions, gives me time to enjoy my day and explore the towns in which I’m surfing.
Check out the barrels in Dominical!
Marbella (this place is epic)
This town is so tiny, but has so much to offer, something that really makes it unique. Most Costa Rican towns aren’t going to offer all the amenities you’ll find in Dominical. Though it doesn’t have resorts and skyscrapers, it has a ton of little storefronts and rum bars that usually get pretty crazy at night.
Another awesome thing about Dominical is that it’s surrounded by natural waterfalls! Literally you can go on a jog and find a waterfall. Normally there will be a bunch of local kids running with towels in the jungle, follow them and you should find yourself a nice 200 foot waterfall. These falls make for a great day hike between sessions. Ask a local where you can find a waterfall and they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction, Ticos love waterfalls.
The vibe in Dominical isn’t geared towards partying as much as a surf city like San Diego, but it’s definitely there. Dominical basically only has two streets, both of which are filled with small surf hostels, Tico restaurants, and little souvenir shops.
One of the best features of the town is the local markets that get set up from 8am-5pm every day. Here, you’ll find everything from handmade bracelets to Romeo & Juliette Cuban cigars (super cheap here compared to other parts of C.R.). These market stands are all set up right along the strip of road that borders the beach, so feel free to forget the sandals and shirt at home and just stroll the beach, there’s a ton to look at. Most of the trinkets and knick-knacks are going to cost you between 2$-10$, while the larger carvings and knitted clothing is going to range into the 20-50$ range.
One thing that makes Dominical an ideal destination for backpacking surfers is its affordability. You can easily live off 300$ for a week, that being said, you won’t be living the lavish, eat out every night, drink until bar close lifestyle. Food and drink is cheap if you find the right market (or local) to buy your produce and liquor off of (there’s a few old ladies that sell rum infused with banana and strawberries). In short, the town of Dominical is tiny, but the waves are huge and the weather is perfect.
Though Dominical is located pretty far south along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, it’s surprisingly easy to get there. Depending on your mode of travel, it can take anywhere between 5 and 8 hours to reach it.
Most likely, you’ll be flying into San Jose International Airport and from here, it’s about 4.5 hours if you drive in a rental car or private shuttle. If you’re like me, and don’t have the funds to pay a shuttle 200$, then you’ll be a bus warrior! I understand that the language barrier can be scary for some people, but trust me, Costa Ricans are incredibly helpful and very nice.
The easiest way to get to Dominical is either hopping on the direct bus from San Jose to Dominical (though this bus sometimes takes 8 hours!) or taking the bus from San Jose to Quepos, then transferring over to Dominical from Quepos. My best advice would be to make the journey from San Jose to Dominical a 2 or 3 day journey. There’s a few really good surf beaches on the way to Dominical, so if you have the time to visit Quepos and Manuel Antonio, I highly suggest you do.
If you have limited time, then from the San Jose airport, take a taxi to the Delio Morales bus company (every taxi driver will know what that means). This direct San Jose to Dominical bus leaves at 6 am and 3pm, but those times are subject to change. Unlike so much of Costa Rica, the route between San Jose and Dominical is 100% paved, which makes travel way quicker and easier.
Piramy’s Cool Vibes Hostel: This is where I stay when I go to Dominical, because it’s affordable, comfortable, and only about 200 feet from the beach. A cute French couples own it, they’re super young and cool with ju
st about everything. This isn’t a surf party hostel, but it’s probably the chillest accommodation option in the entire town. Dorm beds cost between 8-12/night, while the private rooms are 25$/night. The price is really absurd considering the view and care you get at Cool Vibes. I mean, it’s called “Cool Vibes”, everyone is going to be rad as hell!
Tortilla Flats: This is a local favorite. They have great food, amazing drink specials, and know how to throw a proper party. If you want to stay up late, rip shots of high proof rum, and meet some badass locals, then Tortilla Flats is the place to be. A lot of the Ticos that hang here can DK Boogie board better than you can probably surf, so make sure you don’t disrespect these guys; they’re all legends. Prices for rooms are a little more expensive, you’re going to spend anywhere between 20$ and 80$ per night here.
Hotel Cuna Del Angel: This is your standard luxurious hotel option. It’s located a little further from the beach than the hostels, so it’s much more quiet. Rooms start at 110$/night and go up from there.
Renting a house: This is the best option for people that want to bring all their surf buddies and have the time of their lives. Rental homes in Costa Rica are very cheap, it’ll cost you about 1,000$/week for a house/cabana close to the beach. I’ve rented a cabana from Pyram’s for a week and the total cost was 250$ for 5 nights, and we stuffed 8 of us in there. Cheap as all hell.
Playa Dominical is a less developed version of Jacó (minus the drugs and prostitutes), for it’s nearly surrounded by lush rainforest. Dominical is a must see for any surfer who’s trying to get totally stoked without paying the hefty fees of a tourist town. If you’re looking for power and height, then this is probably a great option, but if you’re still a beginner, I’d stick to nearby Uvita or Quepos.