From Ipanema Beach to the Amazon River to South American Swells—and Beyond

Learning to Surf
brazil surf
The Life Aquatic: A typical swell in Itacaré (courtesy, EasyDrop Surf Camp)
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With a coastline measuring a whopping 4,578 miles from Cabo Orange National Park in the north to Santa Vitória do Palmar near Uruguay in the south, you can bet that Brazil has a thriving surf culture and a fair share of pros. Guys like Fábio Gouveia head to the south to the offshore island of Florianópolis southwest of Rio, where you'll find the best waves at no fewer than 20 breaks from April to October. This is no place for a beginner, though, with swells rolling in off the open Atlantic to auger your neophyte self into the sand. But even if you are not ready for the pounding rights at Praia do Campeche, that doesn't mean you can't learn to ride Brazilian style. September and October are prime time to learn to catch a wave about midway down the coast at a surf camp in Itacaré, near Ilhéus.

Instructors at the EasyDrop Surf Camp (01155.73.3251.3065; www.easydrop.com) will get you up and down the line with a two-week course that includes four hours in the water each day and two hours of theory on the sand. Beginners will find great waves—small, but not too small—to learn on from September to June, with the best times for beginners from September to November. Waves are consistent here nearly all year long, but rollers at beaches like Pontal and Piracanga go off during the antipodal winter, which lasts through September. That time you'll find big, slow waves that thrill beginners, while fast and hollow tubes form up closer to the beach. At Boca da Barra, a river break, you'll find one of the longest waves in the country: a right that can break for more than a mile? The best. Waves in the south can be in cooler water, while at EasyDrop you can expect to learn to surf in bathwater-warm waves.

As for digs, students at EasyDrop often stay at Pousada Girassol (Sunflower Inn) (011.55.21.2256.6951), located in Itacaré's most upscale neighborhood. From your room, which has air conditioning and a veranda with the requisite hammock, it's just a short walk to the waves at Praia do Pontal and Boca da Barra.

The camp costs $1,050 if you share a room ($1,250 for a single), but that price drops by half to $563 for a double after September 25 ($673 for a single). Be sure to have one of the surf camp's experienced shapers carve you your own board, a custom design that, at $300 to $500, is cheaper than what you'll find in the States. Flights to Itacaré run about $360 from Rio, making it well worth the effort to buy that Brazil Air Pass (see Access and Resources). If you reserve a slot in the surf camp, someone will come meet you at the airport.

Visit www.brazilsurftravel.com for details about some of the country's other solid surfing destinations.


Published: 26 Aug 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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