Where to Go Surfing in South America

Arica, Tarapaca, Chile, South America
Paul Kennedy / Getty Images

It is not unusual to see people traveling with their surfboards in South America. Often they have been surfing in Central America and decided to travel a bit farther south to find more action so you'll see surf boards strapped to the top of buses along with other extra large luggage. It’s possible to go surfing in South America but you need to know where to go.

Here are the six best places to surf in South America:


  • 01 of 06
    Surfers head into the surf at Mancora on the northern coast of Peru. The beach resort close to the Ecuadorean border is a popular destination for holidaying Peruvians
    Andrew Watson / Getty Images

    Just a short distance from surfboards is another very popular surfing spot in the Peruvian border. Mancora, also on the Pacific coastline, is surfboards spot for travelers to relax after they have finished a hike up Machu Picchu. Located in a little tourist town, people surf all day and party all night.  

    A lot of experienced surfers come here and don’t always share the waves so it may not be the best place if you want to learn surfing in South America.

  • 02 of 06

    La Paloma, Uruguay

    Seaside town along La Playa Bahia Grande, La Paloma, Rocha Department, Uruguay
    Danita Delimont / Getty Images

    This small fishing village offers one of South America’s best beaches and a relaxed vibe for surfers. Uruguay is one of the more developed countries in South America and just a short jaunt from Buenos Aires which makes it attractive for those who want to combine big city nightlife on their holiday.

    Most vacationers here are from Europe and other areas of South America. La Paloma’s waves are credited to its peninsula which faces south and creates two large bays.

    The best time to surf in La Paloma is October to May.

  • 03 of 06
    Arica, Tarapaca, Chile, South America
    Paul Kennedy / Getty Images

    Due to its strong economy, Chile has become of the more developed countries in South America, which is very attractive for vacationers. While it is considered one of the most expensive countries in South America, Arica remains a bargain destination for surfing in South America.

    Not one of the most beautiful beaches in South America, locals love the strong winds and in addition to surfing, it is very common to see kite surfing, body boarding, and other water activities. Due to it being close to Peru, many travelers combine surfing in Chile with a trip to Machu Picchu or Bolivia.

    The best time to surf in Arica is March to May.

  • 04 of 06

    Montanita, Ecuador

    Sunset on Montañita
    crisserbug / Getty Images

    Ruta del Sol, or the sunshine route, Ecuador’s Pacific coast, is known for great waves amongst surfers and backpackers.

    Most land in surfboards in search of a good party but the coastline is dotted with lots of great surfing if you want a more chilled atmosphere. If you’re looking to learn Spanish there are quite a few schools that offer a beginner program in both surfing and Spanish.

    The best time to surf in Ecuador is November to April.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Boy swimming out on surfboard at Pinheira beach, Santa Catarina, Brazil
    paul mansfield photography / Getty Images

    A state located in the south, Santa Catarina was first discovered by mainstream surfers in the 1970s, it’s been a hot destination for those looking for the ultimate sunshine getaway. Its capital, Florianópolis, is often compared to Hawaii for its beauty and the region is always busy with plenty of beach resorts.

    While there are enough beaches for beginners and experts alike, it’s good to ask around to find which beach suits you best. Experienced surfers tend to visit during low season (June, July, and August) when the waves are bigger.

    The swells are consistent all year long but the best surfing in Santa Catarina is April to September. A bonus, if you go in April you can catch the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour.

  • 06 of 06

    Nuqui, Colombia

    Nuqui, Colombia
    Clauria Uribe / Getty Images

    Colombia is still low on the radar as a surfing destination due to its past, but with a better reputation, the Pacific coast is becoming increasingly popular with surfers who want waves to themselves.

    Nuqui is the most well known with many smaller towns a short boat ride away. The town itself is very different from Montanita or Mancora and doesn’t exist solely for tourism. For this reason, many surfers stay outside town in eco-lodges and hotels.

    June to October is a great time to go if you also want to arrive during whale season.

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