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Stormrider Guide to surfing Santa Catarina


Praia da Vila, Flavio Vidigal


+ Great consistency - Cool water
+ Wide range of spots - Relatively crowded
+ Tropical scenery - Some beaches close during the fishing season
+ Safe and developed area - Wet climate

It is the deep south of Brazil that offers the best surf in the country, with bigger swells and more coastal variations than the N. While Parana and Rio Grande do Sul States have good potential, Santa Catarina Island, facing ESE, is definitely the best option. This island destination is commonly referred to as Florianopolis, which is actually the capital city of Santa Catarina State, as well as a port on the west side of Santa Catarina Island. It is a great destination, with a concentration of 20 breaks covering a 225° swell window, plus further south are the quality spots around Guarda, Garopaba and Imbituba.

When to Go

This part of Brazil receives the most swell in the country from deep low pressures spinning past Cape Horn above Antarctica. Swells are powerful and frequent, especially from April to Oct. This source of S-SE swells provides 2-10ft (0.5-3m) waves with occasional 12ft (4m) conditions at the big wave spots like Praia da Vila. Unlike many surf destinations it seems that spring is better than autumn with many more E swells, coming mainly off deep lows passing to the SE and sometimes from hurricanes off Africa which send in short lived groundswells. Wind patterns are stronger than on the Littoral Paulista (São Paulo), blowing primarily from the E in the summer and from either the NE or SW in the winter. SW winds mean stormy weather, while “lestadas” (easterlies) are the usual seabreezes, which blow with force after lunch. Tidal variation is minimal and has little effect on most spots.

Surf Spots

Towards the north of Santa Catarina Island, Santinho produces good lefts, but it needs a rare SE swell and NE wind. Moçambique is the longest beach with 12 access points – the north end is usually the best with fast, walled up waves. The Galheta nudist beach is a bit of a hike, but it gets hollow waves with no crowds. If the wind is blowing from the S, Praia Mole is the spot for clean, consistent beachbreaks. World famous Joaquina beach provided classic conditions for a 1986 ASP World Tour contest. It’s a thick, powerful beachbreak that favours lefts, making it more than popular. Campeche is a big beach with a rarely breaking but classic long, hollow right that needs a major S swell. There are also some consistent rights to be found up towards Morro das Pedras. The lefts at Matadeiro rivermouth are rumoured to be epic but extremely fickle and inconsistent. Lagoinha do Leste is hard to reach, but well worth the mission, with powerful, empty waves as your reward. Another spot that is hard to get to is Naufragados, which requires a long hike or the hiring of a boat. It is a hollow wave, although one with a tendency to close-out, however the scenery alone can make the trip worthwhile. Guarda do Embau is a laid back resort town with a lefthander that is the best rivermouth wave in Brazil. Even if the river doesn’t turn on the goods, then there is still a punchy beachbreak set amongst some amazing rock formations. Prainha and Gamboa are both beachbreaks close by and are useful to escape from the crowds. Garopaba rivals Guarda as a surf travel town because of Silveira, a great right point that wraps around a rocky headland. The other swell magnet is Ferrugem – super consistent beachbreaks that pack some punch. There are several good breaks hidden away on the coast near Imbituba, which are well worth a quick look, like Rosa, site of the 2000 World Longboard Championships. It is in Imbituba where the biggest waves in Brazil are to be found at Praia da Vila, which holds chunky rights in S to E swells.


dominant swell E -S E -S E -S E -S E -S E -S
swell size (ft) 2 2-3 3-4 4 3-4 2
consistency (%) 50 60 70 70 70 50
dominant wind N -NE N -NE N -NE N -NE N -NE N -NE
average force F4 F4 F4 F4 F4 F4
consistency (%) 58 53 67 68 80 59
water temp (C) 25 24 21 18 19 23
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts springsuit 3/2 3/2 springsuit

Travel Information

The climate is wet/subtropical with as much rain in the winter as in the summer, (about one day out of three). Winter brings stormy weather while the summer has afternoon thunderstorms. Deep winter can be surprisingly cold. The water remains pretty stable year round, requiring a light fullsuit most of the time. Springsuits and boardies can be used at certain times of the year. Sometimes S winds in the winter feed warm water currents up the coast, whilst E winds and swells can bring in cold water currents.

Lodging and Food
In the summer many people descend on this area from all the big national cities, as well as plenty of Argentineans from across the border. Finding cheap accommodation at this time becomes difficult. Throughout the surf season you should be able to get accommodation within the $20/dble range. Ask about rooms at Larica’s Café in Guarda.

Nature and Culture
The biggest party of the year in this area is the Oktoberfest, which takes place in Blumenau, and is definitely not what you would expect from Brazil. This is a cosmopolitan region but with a quiet rural vibe based around the small fishing villages. There is sandboarding in Joaquina or windsurfing in Lagoa.