I Hope You’ve Enjoyed This Blog!

My Mom, Brother, and I in Las Flores. Taken By, My Sister, Leah

My Mom, Brother, and I in Las Flores. Taken By, My Sister, Leah

This blog has let me reflect on many of the different places I have visited and learn even more about them that I would have never cared to learn about before.  The places, the people, and the expiriences are what make my surf trips feel so fun memorable.  If any of the readers ever get a chance to go to the places I have mentioned, please do! I promise, you will not regret it.  Even if you are not a surfer, there are many places that you can go to and have just as much fun in South or Central America.  Or, even feel free to look up some surf resorts that offer surf lessons and hop up on a board yourself!  There is nothing like catching your first wave and what better way to do than in a tropical place?  I also want to thank my family for showing me the most beautiful places in South and Central America because without them, I would not have been able to write this blog.  So, keep paddling out there and remember, never forget your sunscreen!

My Favorite Expirience

Las Flores Taken by My Brother, Shawn

Las Flores Taken by My Brother, Shawn

I have had the privilege to travel many places with my amazing family and friends.  But, nothing could ever compare to the third time I went to El Salvador with just my parents, sisters, and brothers.  Las Flores has been our returning spot because the surf resort is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the surf in literally right at your door.  It was just like any other surf trip… Wake up at 5AM, get coffee, put on the sunscreen and wetsuit top and before you know your out in the water.  This one day, the surf was just heaven.  I have never experienced picture perfect waves over and over again.  It was so amazing, my parents and brothers and I forgot about eating lunch and before we knew it, my sisters and my brothers’ wives were yelling on the beach for us to come in and rest.  We surfed for seven hours straight and had every intention of going back out until dark, which we did.  Every single wave, was the best wave any of us have ever surfed.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I have also never been so dehydrated and “noodled-armed” in my whole life but every single paddle was worth it.  Since that day, I have yet to catch waves as beautiful, glassy, and perfect as those.

My Top Women Picks For Surfer Poll 2012

Sunset Surfer

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These women have kept the surfing world “hot” and have proven women can kill it in the water just as well as men can.

1.Sally Fitzgibbons: Sally was a runner-up of the World Title in 2012, and is already focused on improving her rank in 2013.  Her motivation to win the title is sure to get her points at this award show.

2.  Carissa Moore: This former world champion has five consecutive Surfer Poll awards.  In 2004, she won the Breakthrough Performer Award before joining the Women’s Top 5 in 2007 at the young age of 15!  Carissa was the only woman nominated for Best Performance in 2011 for her surfing in the movie, “Leave A Message”.

3.  Coco Ho: Though she may not be originally from South or Central America, this girl can shred.  She has torn it up in Peru like no one I have ever seen and this Hawaiian native is here to stay.  She’s been a mainstay in the Women’s Top 5 since 2008 for a good reason.

4.  Alana Blanchard: Always a crowd favorite for her smooth and carefree style on a long board, but sharp and toughness on a short board.  Her highest finish ever in the Surfer Poll coincides with her re-qualification for the 2013 Women’s Tour after strong ‘QS finishes throughout 2012.

5.  Steph Gilmore: In 2012, she bounced back from a rough year to mount a relentless competitive campaign that put her back on the rightful throne for the fifth time as the Women’s World Champ.  This will be Steph’s sixth time winning the Surfer Poll Award and her third first-place award since she made the Top 5 in 2007.

My Top Male Picks For Surfer Polls 2012

Gabriel Medina

Gabriel Medina (Photo credit: Jim Bahn)

The Surfer Polls of 2012 have begun and the votes are up!  But, I have my personal picks for my top 5 male surfers who should win the awards many including surfers from South and Central America.

1. Gabriel Medina: Once you tally the Tour victories, free surfing highlights, the 2012 A.I. Breakthrough Performer Award, and Surfer Polls rankings, there is no debating that he belongs as the first Brazilian ever to finish in the Top 10 Poll.

2. John Florence: Last year’s A.I. Breakthrough Performer Award winner tore through his first year on the World Tour, winning his first Tour event in Brazil and finishing in the top five on the ranking en route to his first Top 10 in the Surfer Polls.

3. Jordy Smith: This would be Jordy’s seventh time on the Surfer Poll stage.  In 2007 Jordy won the Breakthrough Performer Award, before going on to win the Web Clip of the year in 2009 and Best Manuever in 2012.

4.  Taj Burrow:  Along with an award for Best Maneuver in 2008, Taj has won 11 Surfer Poll awards.  It is no doubt that Taj is at the top of my list this year for his contest in Santa Cruz.

5.  Owen Wright: I predict Owen this year will win his third Surfer Poll award since he finished in the top 10 of the World Tour.

South American Surfers

Association of Surfing Professionals

Association of Surfing Professionals (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

1. Maya Gabeira: a professional big wave surfer from Brazil.  She won the ESPY award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete in 2009.  Later that year, Gabeira surfed the biggest wave ever by a female when she successfully surfer a 45-foot wave at Dungeons, a big wave surf spot in South Africa.

2. Sofia Mulanovich: She is the fist Peruvian surfer the win an Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour event.  She is the first South American ever to win the World Title.  In 2004, she won three out of six World Championship Tour events, and finished the season as World Champion.  Her main sponsor is Roxy.

3.Jacqueline Silva: A professional surfer from Florianopolis, Brail.  She is considered to b a pioneer in women’s Brazilian surfing and has garnered the best results from someone from Brazil, male or female.  She began at a time when there were no female categories in Brazilian surfing championships.

Central Brazil: Espirito Santo

English: Santinho beach, Santa Catarina Island...

Florianopolis, Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

If one were to think of Rio de Janeiro as the Los Angeles of Brazil, the the southern island of Florianopolis would have to be Brazil’s version of Santa Cruz.  Florianopolis is both a big city and a big island, but when surfers talk about Florianopolis, or “Floripa”, they mean the island and the multitude of surf breaks along its rugged and beautiful eastern shore.  (The actual name for the island is Santa Catarina Island, but common usage refers to it as Florianopolis).

Surf-wise, Floripa has probably the best surf on the east coast of South America. It’s close enough to the southern latitudes’ low-pressure systems that it picks up the strength of the swells, and yet it’s far enough from them that the weather is still semi-tropical. Gaucho surfers are often seen wearing wetsuits in photos, but for the traveling “gringo”, (white man) you’ll find the water warmer than you expect and will rarely need to bust out the 3/2mm steamer. Bring a spring suit and a full suit and you’ll just fine.

 

Southern Chile: The Hidden Gem

Surfista

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many surfers consider Southern Chile the hidden gem of surfing.  The infinity of left point-breaks of the South are one of the few virgin spots left in the world; long, constant perfectly tubing waves for days on end until you can’t move your arms because the feel like one more paddle and they will fall off.  Empty left breaks for hundreds of miles in a beautiful green environment with very few people surfing makes this a sacred place for surfing in Chile.

This region has not been touched by urbanization and has a very low population made of small villages where the inhabitants live off farming and fishing.  As you go through these magical places you will see the people plowing the fields with oxen traveling from one village to another in traditional clothes on horseback.  This is also why this section of the travel map will be a little vaguer than the North and Central regions.  You’ll have to ask around a bit to find your way around but that is jut part of South Chile’s pleasure.  My personal advice to people wanting to travel here, respect this surf heaven and discover it with a smaller group of people to explore and find new waves. (Avoid crashing groups of 20 surfers traveling together) When I went with just my family, it was amazing and the natives were very friendly.  But, while there, we saw a group of about 18 surfers and they had a hard time finding surf because locals were unwilling to help direct them to sacred surf spots.  One more piece of advice, the water can get very cold so make sure you pack a good 4/3 wetsuit to keep you warm.

Central Chile

SURF

SURF (Photo credit: FOTO VK!)

 

The Central region of Chile is the most crowded by far because of its closeness to the capital Santiago.  Also, this is where surf first appeared in Chile at the beach in Ritoque near Viña del Mar.  Chilean surf has been exploding rapidly and the level has increased dramatically.  Surf shops have sprouted along the coasts and in Santiago alike, surf schools are now legion and every spot has at least an annual surf contest.  The central region offers quite a variety of very distinct waves, from nice mellow beach breaks to full on 25 feet plus, rock bottom killers!  Pichilemu is undoubtedly the Chilean capital of surf and the main destination in this region for surfers looking for constant quality waves close to Santiago.

The winning by Diego Medina of the Billabong XXL Paddle Award for his monster caught at Punta de Lobos, has put Chile’s central region a bit more under the spotlight.  The official invites received by Diego Medina and Ramon Navarro, the 2 best surfers this region has produced yet, to participate in the tow-in circuit validates that Chile is a definite big-wave destination.

Northern Chile

Fishing village outside Murud

Fishing village outside Murud (Photo credit: Nagesh Kamath)

Northern Chile is home to the desert of Atacama, the driest desert in the world.  That means, that the whole region is mostly unpopulated and mostly unpopulated, except for a few cities spaced along the coast or some small fishing villages.  The breaks are mostly shallow rock bottom reefs that produce big, hollow, powerful waves during the big wave season, so be warned!

The people are hospitable, the warm and dry climate hardly changes during the year, ad traveling from one city to another driving through the desert along the coast by car or bus is definitely something you want to expirience at least once.  I have not been able to visit northern Chile but both of my brothers have for a few surf contests.  There are usually not many issues with crowds here unless of course, you go into the main cities.  The shape of the waves can make it crowded with many bodyboarders which is known to be very popular in this region.

The water is generally good quality as the region is mostly deserted, but cities will have a little bit more polluted water.  I know that in 2004, there was a major oil tanker spill that occured in Antofagasta that left places around it stained for months but there are rare sitings now.

Mar del Plata: Hazards, Crowds, Seasons

Mar del PlataSummer and its powerful west winds can bring swarms of large, dark purple jellyfish into the lineup, but you can see them from the shore; maybe avoid surfing those few days of the summer if this happens. Another hazard is the cold water during winter — the water can really get freezing cold in Marta del Plata, so plan on a good 4’3 wetsuit and a good pair of booties if you come during July or August months.

The water is relatively clean in Mar del Plata for a city of its size. The water in Mar del Plata is a muddy brown all year but it is the natural color of the water in this region of Argentina.  Scientists and natives even say this water has healthy properties for the human body, so don’t worry for the brown Mar del Plata waves.

The summer in Mar del Plata can be extremely hot.  They say Argentina has the most beautiful women in Latin America, and most of them spend their holidays in Mar del Plata. Argentines have also a solid reputation of partying hard and all night long. The wave of heat starts in December and ends in late February.

March and April are the two best months of the year for waves in Mar del Plata, on top of the fact that most spots are nearly empty and the waves are glassy. The temperature really starts to cool down in April; the weather is still good, though, and a 3’2 wetsuit will be more than enough to keep you warm without having to wear booties. The rain also slows down and the waves can reach up to six-and-a-half feet in the rocky-bottom waves at the south end of the city.

From June to August the temperatures can literally be freezing cold. The air temperature easily be around 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the water at 48 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Only the most fanatic surfers are in the water in these months. You might even want to consider bringing a 5’4’3 wetsuit if you can, as it still can get pretty cold with only a 4’3 wetsuit. You can find spots breaking perfect 10-foot waves and perfect sunny days, but it’s freezing cold, so come prepared.