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Surfing in Colombia

Colombia Surf Destination

Colombia has some amazing surfing beaches on both its Northern Caribbean Coast and its Western Pacific Coast. Some of them are easier to get to than others but any surfing enthusiast would be happy to know that there is opportunity for all types of experience levels and preferences.

The surfing beaches on the Caribbean coast are much easier to get to, are more tourist oriented, and tend to be a bit calmer. The Caribbean beaches are the best if you are a beginner, are learning how to surf, or are experienced and just want to get out and catch a few waves.

Surfing beaches along the Caribbean are usually closer to city centers and there is road access, walking access, and more amenities/accommodations.

Surfing Colombia  The Pacific Coast, while much harder to get to, has some of the best surfing in South America.

The beaches around Nuqui are the best in Colombia and are an adventure lovers dream. Unfortunately, the travel is a bit difficult and accommodations are scarce among most of the popular surfing beaches.

If you are a foreigner, it is important to have a guide or travel with someone who knows the area. Most of the surfing beaches can only be accessed by boat or plane and that you are really trecking off the beaten path in many situations.

The good news is that you will be rewarded for all your hard work. Untouched paradise awaits you along with roaring waves and phenomenal scenery. Hotels in the Pacific Coast are limited so plan on camping or sleeping in a tent. Make sure to be friendly to the locals as they are not used to seeing a lot of tourists.

Best Time to Surf

The best time for surfing in Colombia is December through March and July through September. Keep in mind that in Colombia the waves come from the South West between April and December and then, in January and February, from the North East. Waves are higher between April and December normally.

Surf Spots

Caribbean Coast

Surfing Colombia's Caribbean Coast
Surfing Colombia's Caribbean Coast

The surfing beaches of the Northern Caribbean coast are easy to reach and are more centrally located than the surfing beaches of the Pacific Coast. Most major beach towns have surfing beaches, some of which are easier to find than others.  Although the waves are not as strong as the waves on the Western Pacific Coast, there are beaches for all levels of surfers.

Beach Skill Level Location What to Expect

Pradomar

Consistant waves for all levels.

Barranquilla - Accessible by Car.

Predomar is a very popular surfing beach so it can get a little crowded. Try and go during the week. There are some fun bars along the beach and there are a bunch of locals.

Cartagena Jetty

Great for beginners

Cartagena - West end of Cartagena Beach.

Warm Caribbean waters makes this a great beach for a laid back surfing vacation.

El Muelle

Experienced Surfers

Puerto Colombia - Outside of Barranquilla

This powerful surfing beach is a great place to practice and learn new tricks. When you get to Puerto Colombia, ask for El Muelle and everyone will know what you are talking about.

Buritaca

Consistent waves for all levels

Santa Marta - Take a bus from "El Mercado"

Suitable for all surfers ranging from beginner to experienced.

El Bolsillo

Experienced Surfers Only

Barranquilla - Take a car.

Powerful waves

Punta Sur

Fun for all surfers

San Andres - South point of Island

This empty beach is great for all surfing levels. It's easy to reach by car or foot and you will have hours of consistant waves and definitely run into some interesting and curious locals.

Punta Roca

Experienced Surfers only

Barranquilla

This easy-to-find beach has very strong waves and strong winds. Here you will find some of the most powerful winds on the Caribbean side without the crowds. Be careful of the current and sharp rocks.

Mendihuaca

Experienced Surfers Only

Tayrona Nat. Park - By the Mendihuaca Hotel

Great waves for the Caribbean. Keep in mind that Tayrona National Park can be expensive.

Galerazamba

All Surfers Welcome

Cartagena - 30 min 4x4 ride.

Nice waves

Pacific Coast

The center of it all on the Pacific side is a sleepy little town called Nuqui. This has become a common base in the area for surfers as conditions have improved and new beaches have been discovered. From here, you can find the right guide or tour to take you to your destination. There are various accomodations in Nuquí, from eco-lodges to hotels, and people are friendly. The best way to get to Nuquí is by boat from Buenaventura or by plane from Medellin.

Surfing at El Cantil, Nuqui, Choco
Beach Skill Level Location What to Expect

Pico de Loro

Experts Only

Close to Nuqui. Only accessible by boat

For experts only and accessible only by boat. If you are surfing here, you not only know what you're doing but have some inside information. Most locals don't even know how to get here. This is one of the best surfing beaches in Colombia but is dangerously rocky and only for the seasoned expert. We recommend finding a local guide at one of the hotels since you will probably not be able to find it yourself. The beach is a short ride from Nuqui and is uncrowded. The place is surrounded by Jungle so don't be surprised with all the birds, foliage, and animals you might see. Take a plane from Medellin to Nuqui and make arrangements through the hotel or a local business to take you to Pico de Loro.

Juan Tornillo

Experts Only

Short boat ride South of Nuqui

Juan Tornillo is another isolated but fantastic spot for the expert surfer. Like Pico de Loro, it is just a short boat road south of Nuqui. Talk to a local guide or hotel concierge for information on how to reach this great surfing beach.

El Valle

Experts Only

Boat ride from Nuqui

El Valle is also only accessible by boat. To get here, arrive in Nuqui and then have a local bring you to this small town. There are cheap accomodations and inviting, tourist friendly people here. The waves here are pretty intense so we recommend travelling with a guide. El Valle is known for its frequent, consistent surf, uncrowded beaches, and it's beautiful landscapes.

Terco

All Levels

Short boat ride from Nuqui

A short boat ride from Nuqui, this beach is more of a beginner friendly environment. Swells can reach up to 8 feet.

Termales

All Levels

Short boat ride from Nuqui

Another all-levels surfing beach close to Nuqui. Take a short boat ride from Nuqui.

Juanchacho

Experts Only

Boat ride from Buenaventura

Take a boat from Buenaventura. Then walk to the beach. You can only get here by boat or plane. Waves are some of the best in the world. EXPERIENCED SURFERS ONLY. No hotels here. Locals are friendly but travel with friends since this part of the country can be shady at times.

Getting There

Colombia’s biggest international airport is Bogatá’s Aeropuerto Internacional El Dorado. Direct services from Europe to Bogotá are offered by Iberia (Madrid and Barcelona), Air France/KLM (Paris), Avianca (Barcelona and Paris) and Lufthansa (Frankfurt). Avianca also operates flights from Madrid to Cali and Medellín.

In North America, Air Canada connects Toronto to Bogotá, Lan and American Airlines connect Bogotá with Miami, while Delta links Bogotá with New York, Chicago and Atlanta, and Jet Blue flies to Bogotá from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. 

Surfing Colombia  It’s also possible to fly from Miami directly to Santa Marta, Cartagena and Medellín.

In South and Central America, Lan links Bogotá with Lima, Santiago and Quito; Copa offers regular flights from the capital to Panama City, and Tam links the capital to São Paulo. Avianca also flies to Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guayaquil, Lima, Mexico City, Panama City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago (Chile) and São Paulo.

Overland from Ecuador and Venezuela

Frequent bus services cross Colombia’s borders into neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador, though there can be security issues with both borders, so check in advance. Ormeño buses cover several international routes to and from Bogotá, including Quito, Caracas and Lima.

There are three main overland border crossings with Venezuela, the most popular being Cúcuta–San Antonio/San Cristóbal. The Maicao–Maracaibo crossing at Paraguachón is useful if you are travelling directly to or from Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Expreso Brasilia operates a coastal bus service between Cartagena, via Barranquilla and Santa Marta, which passes through Maicao in the remote Guajira Peninsula to Maracaibo (1 daily at 7am; 20hr; COP$220,000). The Panamerican Highway runs south into Ecuador, with the Ipiales–Tulcán crossing being the most popular and straightforward, though slow.

Surfing Colombia  There is no overland crossing between Colombia and Panama due to the presence of drug traffickers, paramilitaries and smugglers, and the threat of kidnapping  in the Darién Gap.

By boat to/from Brazil, Peru, and Panama

From the Amazon region it’s  possible to cross to or from Colombia into Manaus, Brazil, and Iquitos, Peru, by taking a riverboat.

From Cartagena, adventurous travelers with plenty of time on their hands can take a sailboat to Puerto Lindo or Colón in Panama via the remote tropical  islands of the San Blas archipelago. Trips take four to five days and cost around COP$750,000 per person.

Rough seas can make travelling between November and February dangerous.

Surf Camps

Costeño Beach

Costeño Beach Surf Camp & Ecolodge

Costeño Beach is an old coconut farm turned ecolodge/surfcamp situated in the ocean front, along the beautiful Caribbean coastline of Colombia. It is just an hour drive from the colonial town of Santa Marta and 5 km from the world famous Tayrona National Park.

Costeño Beach is the only Surf Camp and Eco-lodge operating on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The Ecolodge offers 5 beautiful rooms built from the finest local wood by skilled artisan builders. All rooms have private bathrooms, ocean views, comfortable beds, and solar powered electricity. Beach huts and hammocks are available.

At this camp they offer accommodation, delicious meals served by the on-site restaurant, beverages and snacks, surfboard rental (18 to choose from), and surf class if needed. They also offer nature walks to waterfalls, rivers, and nearby Tayrona National Park.

El Cantil Ecolodge

Costeño Beach is an old coconut farm turned ecolodge/surfcamp situated in the ocean front, along the beautiful Caribbean El Cantil has been catalogued by Lonely Planet Colombia tourist guide as the number one ecolodge in Colombia, and has also been featured in National Geographic Traveler's favourite hotels in South America.

El Cantil Ecolodge

References:

2 Responses

Laura

Laura

February 15, 2016

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February 15, 2016

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