Located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil offers surfers a surprising array of wave riding options. Between April and October, South Brazil garners swells from the east and south with powerful Antarctic swells that can get up to 10 feet but are also accompanied by rough weather and strong winds. November to March is Brazil’s summer and while north swells are more prevalent during this time, the surf is less consistent. Nevertheless, Brazil has produced prodigious surfing talent of late. Gabriel Medina , Adriano de Souza , and Miguel Pupo are just a few of the country’s rising surf stars.
Brazil’s climate is tropical with a variance of topographical features from flatlands to hills to mountains. The weather is generally quite warm so you only need to sunscreen (lots f it) a light wetsuit top or spring suit
The culture in Brazil is rich with art and food that will have even the most seasoned traveler swirling. You can get around Brazil speaking Spanish or English, but Portuguese is the official language, so be prepared for some communication issues. Rio is the most populated city in Brazil and is the epicenter of both culture and night life. If the surf goes flat, there are always the night clubs and restaurants to keep you busy.
With 25 miles of ocean coast, Rio’s surf is easy to locate. In fact, there is a “Surf Bus” that takes surfers to several of the area’s best waves. This city service runs all week (except Monday) and hits Largo do Machado, Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon-São, Conrado-Barra de Tijuca, Recreio, Macumba, and Prainha along its route.
Waves in the area vary greatly. Ipanema and Leblon offer a bit more power while Arpoador can form into a sand point and drives frenzied locals to be infamously protective and aggressive. However, if you have surfed in other surf-centers like Hawaii or California, the crowds in Brazil are nothing new. If you meet the right locals, there are some secrets spots to be had, but the most visual spots will always have some guys on them. As always, just be mellow and smile. You’ll get plenty of waves.
For the hardcore surf hunter, Rio, Brazil is not your first choice of destination. The surf is often wind-blown and sand bars are always shifting, but as a surf experience, Rio can be one of those once in a lifetime trips. Factor in the people, the language, the food, the girls, the night life, and the chance that conditions in the water might just come together for a classic session, and you’ve got yourself the making of a great trip.
Be sure to get a visa and passport, and bring plenty of cash. Rio gets lots of press for high crime, but it’s really no different than any big city. If you are friendly and vigilant, you will be fine. Ask the folks at your hotel about areas to avoid in the city and don’t go flashing all your cash flow.
Venturing away from the city, you might find even greener wave pastures with stories of throttling tubes and gnarly beach breaks just hours from the city. So go to Rio with an open mind and the intent to explore all that the city and country have to offer.