Surfing in Brazil

Surfing is something like the national sport of this country. No one will bat an eyelid if you bring your surfboard on the bus and you will never be charged extra for it. It’s also no problem to get a taxi – anyone will know how to fit your boards in his car. That being said, there’s naturally lots of other people with you in the water. In our experience, Brazilians are super friendly and helpful. They will tell you about good spots, when to surf there and what to watch out for. But it’s also true that they often snake other surfers or drop-in on you.

As opposed to many other countries, no one in the line-up will speak English (except for other tourists, of which there are few or locals from the area around Rio) – Portuguese is your go-to language. In the south of Brazil, you will probably need a wetsuit or at least a longsleeve lycra all year round. As this is a huge country, we didn’t cover it all. We only surfed the South. It’s super easy to find equipment, there’s surfshops everywhere. Just keep in mind that Brazil is an expensive country!

Praia do Rosa (Time visited: January)

We mostly surfed Praia do Rosa. It’s a pretty crowded, but beautiful beach break with white sand. There’s not only surfers and bodyboarders, but lots of swimmers too, so watch out. If you want less crowd, head to Praia do Luz. Another beautiful sandy beach break with less people. Most likely, there’s other breaks in the vicinity. As we don’t have a car, these are the two spots within walking distance (depending on where you’re staying, it’s easily an hour walk). The town itself is very pretty, with surfshops, supermarkets and lots of bars and restaurants. It is very pricey, though!

Guarda do Embaú (Time visited: January)

This place is known for its left-hander that can run for quite a while. Beware, the waves are very powerful! We didn’t get to surf it, as it wasn’t really working when we were there. Instead, we surfed the beach break, which was ok, but quite fast as well. Our favorite spot was about a 15-minute walk from the main break to a beautiful and undeveloped bay they call Prainha (little beach). There’s a nice right-hand point break that is – for Brazilian standards – not too crowded. The town itself is your typical surf town with lots of restaurants, bars and surfshops.

Florianopolis (Time visited: February)

This peninsula has so many beaches and surfspots, we don’t even know where to start. There are busses connecting a few beaches, but we would recommend renting a car, as the bus system doesn’t cover everything. Prepare for a few traffic jams, though. There’s lots of cars and few roads…

Let’s start with our favorite, Praia da Joaquina. A powerful, world-class beach break that if you’re lucky won’t be too crowded. The beach itself is very nice too and there’s lots of restaurants around. Another popular spot is Praia Mole. Also a beach break, but the bay is smaller. It was always incredibly crowded when we were there. If you walk along the beach with the ocean on your right, you will get to Praia da Galheta. This is actually a nudist beach, but there are some pretty decent waves at this beach break. Plus – it’s much less crowded. Watch out for rips! Then there’s Praia da Barra da Lagoa, the beach in front of the town that goes by the same name. It’s a beach break that stretches for kilometers, eventually changing its name to Praia Moçambique and Ponta das Aranhas. While the surf in town is pretty mellow and good for beginners, it gets more challenging along the coast. Praia do Campeche is a bit protected by an island and is therefore great for beginners. It’s also a beach break. If you head to the town of Armação, keep walking along the shore and you’ll get to Praia do Matadeiro. A secluded beach with a river break with some left-handers. It usually doesn’t get too crowded, unless there’s a contest. And – it’s incredibly beautiful, even if you don’t want to surf!

On a lot of beaches, you can pay a guard to keep an eye on your car. We’d recommend you do that. If you have to leave your car unattended, park it right on the beach where possible, so you can keep an eye on it while surfing.

There are more surfspots on this island, but these are the ones we surfed. Have fun exploring!

São Francisco do Sul (Time visited: February)

This certainly isn’t your classic tourist destination. But it was one of our favorite places in Brazil. You’ll want to be staying across town, on the other side of the peninsula. This way, you can surf at any of the three beaches. The best-known is probably Praia da Saudade, also known as Prainha. The swell-direction was all wrong when we where there, so we didn’t get to surf it. But it must be pretty awesome. Instead, we surfed at Praia Grande, right across. It’s a loooong beach, but most surfers will be right in the corner, as there’s a nice left-hand point break. Last but not least, there’s the option of heading to the other side to the Molhe. If the swell direction is right, a right-hand wave breaks along the beach. It was too small when we were there.

Read about our stay in São Francisco do Sul here.

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Praia da Saudade

Juqueí (Time visited: February)

This stunning little town is a bit of a secret, at least for foreign tourists. It’s a favorite with Paulistas (people from São Paulo) to get away from the city on the weekends. It’s not easy to get to without a car, but it is possible. The town itself has a beautiful, long white-sand beach that is supposed to have nice waves. Unfortunately, there weren’t any when we were there. Instead, with the help of a local, we took the bus to Praia da Juréia (absolutely empty, small bay with a nice beach break) and on another day to Praia de Bora Bora, a very long beach with various peaks.

Read about our stay in Juqueí here.

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No waves in Juqueí

Ubatuba

This town offers dozens of good surf spots, mainly beach breaks. A car or a bicycle with surf racks is handy here, as you might want to check out different spots. Praia Vermelha is a red-sand beach break that drops off quite steep. It’s a rather fast wave and not really for beginners. Depending on swell direction, you might be able to catch a few waves in the small bay of Praia do Tenório. As it is much more protected, the wave is not quite as powerful. Watch out for foam boards flying around! If you can find a ride, Praia Toninhas might be worth checking out. It’s another beach break, but much less crowded than Vermelha.

Ilha Grande

Even if you don’t surf, this island is a paradise. For surfers, even more so. The best known break is Praia de Lopes Mendes. It’s a beautiful beach break that is usually pretty empty, due to its remoteness. If it’s working, it’s for experienced surfers only, as the waves are very powerful! Access is either by boat from town or you hike through the jungle (about 2 hours). This is the only spot we surfed here (when it was small).

Rio de Janeiro (Time visited: February)

Go ahead and surf your wave at the famous Ipanema beach. It’s an experience you won’t forget about soon. But not because the wave is so awesome, but the setting is. If you want to surf in less polluted and less crowded waters, head out of the city to Praia da Macumba (see below).

Read about our stay in Rio here.

Praia da Macumba (Time visited: March)

If you want to get out of the city and surf asap, this is the place. It’s no more than half an hour away from Rio, with lots of busses connecting it to the big city. There’s Macumba beach itself, a ridiculously beautiful beach with various peaks of varying difficulty (from beginner to experienced). It is crowded, though! Just a five minute ride away, there’s Prainha. A much smaller bay with good, if a bit more challenging waves.

Read about our stay in Macumba here.

Búzios (Time visited: March)

Many beaches surround this beautiful peninsula. We only surfed at Praia da Ferradura. It’s your classic beach break with quite cold water. Ask around for info on the other surfspots.

Read about our stay in Buzios here.

Arraial do Cabo (Time visited: March)

If you’re staying here, you’ll most likely be surfing at Praia Grande. As the name suggests, this is a veeeery long beach with countless peaks. It actually stretches all the way to the town of Saquarema, which you have probably heard of in connection with the WSL Championship. So you get an idea of how good the waves can be here. Don’t bother walking all the way to Praia Brava. We did, and it was way too wild to surf. Some local fishermen told us that it can only be accessed in summer, when the sea is a bit calmer.

The town itself is pretty ugly, to be honest. But it’s surrounded by some of the most gorgeous beaches we’ve ever seen. If you want to take a day off from surfing, you can take a boat to the nearby Prainhas do Pontal do Atalaia. No waves to surf there, but it is worth the trip!

Read about our stay in Arraial here.

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