Surfing in Colombia
Columbia! Not only a vibrant cultural epicenter of Latin America, but also a hidden gem within the surf world. This South American nation is packed to the brim with lush jungles, towering mountains, and – you guessed it – some of the sickest surf spots you can find. From its Caribbean Sea coast with turquoise, warm water and sandy beaches to its Pacific coast, wilder, rugged, and teeming with biodiversity, Colombia is a dual-coast surf paradise just waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s the right-hand points that are perfect for longboarding on the Caribbean side or the challenging left-handers on the Pacific side, every wave rider, whether beginner or pro, will find a wave to fall in love with. You’ll have a diverse array of surf conditions that cater to every taste and skill level, all within an incredibly rich cultural backdrop. Add to this the always-welcoming Colombian locals and the beautiful, tropical weather, and you’ve got a surf destination that’s got all the right vibes. So grab your board and prepare for a Colombian surf journey like no other.
Colombia’s two coasts offer surf spots to suit all levels. On the Caribbean side, the town of Santa Marta and its surrounding areas are your go-to. Beginners will love the soft sandy bottom and gentle waves at Los Angeles beach. Intermediate surfers can enjoy the more challenging conditions at Costeño Beach and Mendihuaca. For those seeking the thrill of big waves, head over to the Pacific coast. Places like Nuquí and Bahía Solano are famous for their heavy, powerful swells. These Pacific waves can be tricky, making them more suited for advanced surfers. For an off-the-beaten-path experience, check out El Valle in the Chocó region – it’s wild, remote, and the waves are nothing short of epic.
While you can find surfable waves in Colombia throughout the year, the optimal times vary based on the coast and your surfing experience. For beginners, the best time to visit the Caribbean coast is during the dry season, from December to April. The waves during these months are typically smaller and more predictable, perfect for learning and gaining confidence. If you are an intermediate surfer, the transitional months (May and November) on the Pacific coast offer slightly bigger and more challenging waves, allowing you to enhance your skills. The advanced surfers among us should look forward to the wet season, from May to November, when the Pacific coast sees the biggest swells and offers a truly exhilarating experience. Water temperatures remain fairly consistent year-round, hovering between 26°C to 29°C, so you can leave your wetsuit at home. The rainy season may mean a few showers, but the silver lining is that it often brings consistent offshore winds, making it worth the occasional downpour.
While Colombia’s surf is undoubtedly alluring, the nation’s culture and non-surfing activities are just as enticing. Colombian culture is a vibrant blend of indigenous, African, and Spanish influences that can be seen, heard, and tasted throughout the country. Salsa dance to the rhythmic beats in Cali, taste the world-famous coffee in the Coffee Cultural Landscape, or explore the history-soaked streets of Cartagena. Adventure lovers can trek in the Andes, explore the Amazon rainforest, or meet the majestic humpback whales that visit the Pacific coast each year. Night owls will love cities like Medellin and Bogotá, which are renowned for their nightlife – think energetic salsa clubs, cozy reggaeton bars, and everything in between.
Before you head out to surf Colombia’s coasts, there are a few things to keep in mind. While the country has made significant strides in safety, it’s important to stay informed about the regions you plan to visit. It’s recommended to avoid non-touristic rural areas, especially after dark. Keep in mind that the Pacific coast is remote with limited infrastructure – this means fewer crowds in the water but also fewer amenities on land. Ensure your travel insurance covers potential health issues, including evacuation. As Spanish is the official language of Colombia, learning some basic phrases can be very useful. Don’t forget to pack strong, reef-friendly sunscreen and insect repellent. Be mindful of local customs, respect the environment, and remember to always follow the surf etiquette. And finally, embrace the vibrant spirit of Colombia and its people – it’s part of what makes surfing here such a unique experience.