home | back

Stormrider Guide to surfing Littoral Paulista


Praia do Tombo, Hardcore


+ Fairly consistent clean surf - Heavy crowd pressure
+ Easily accessible - Lack of big waves
+ Good quality facilities - Pollution
+ Urban entertainment - Built up coast, heavy traffic

São Paulo is one of the worlds largest cities and so it is of little surprise to discover that the sub-tropical shores of the Littoral Paulista, (the city beaches), are teeming with hot surfers. This whole zone is basically a long stretch of average sandy beach breaks, located between two peninsulas, dotted with inlets, bays and points. The South Atlantic rarely pushes in swells big enough to make the pointbreaks fire, so most surfing here will be done on fickle reefs or hollow beachbreaks, which are always busy. If you’re a beginner, happy to ride small, mushy waves, then the poorer quality peaks that can be found on the bigger beaches will offer less intense crowds. Another way of avoiding the worst of the crowds is to take a long hike or a boat to some of the spots with harder access that can be found along the more rugged stretches of coastline.

When to Go

The Littoral Paulista is well exposed to frequent S-SE swells coming up from Antarctica. From April-Oct you can expect plenty of 3-8ft days. Unusual late winter E swells produced by lows tracking way off the coast or by the strong E winds sometimes caused by high pressures, will send short lived ENE groundswells onto Brazils beaches. Swells rarely get very big and when they do there are few spots that can hold much size. The dominant wind blows from the E, varying from 16% of the time in June to 32% in Oct. Winters though, seem to produce more S-SW winds; this is most common when a cold front approaches the coast. It is usually offshore in the mornings, but by 10am the E sea breeze picks up. Tidal ranges are small and don’t really effect most spots, a “tabua de mares” (tide table) is easy to get hold of.

Surf Spots

The easiest place to begin searching for waves are the Santos beaches, the nearest to the city centre and beside Brazil’s main harbour. Embaré is an old, stylish town with consistent waves. On the other side of the Balsa river is Ilha de Santo Amaro, where around the town of Guaruja, the main breaks can be found. Ponta Grossa is a secluded beach with good rights and few crowds. Heading north towards Pitangueiras, there are a few hidden reefs and beaches that are well worth searching for. Pitangueiras itself is a very consistent spot, but it’s popular and it’s a fight for every wave. Heading north-east, Pernambuco is a well regarded beachbreak that is consistent, hollow and you guessed it – crowded! One of the few spots that handles a bit of S wind. The northern part of Guaruja Island is less developed, but like everywhere in this zone, it still gets busy. The waves can be good at either Pinheiro or Praia Branca, where the difficult access cuts the crowds a bit. From Bertioga to Maresias, there is a 60km (40mi) stretch of variable quality surf that is accessed along the SP055. São Lourenco has rivermouth formed sandbars and Boraceia a large beach. The village of Barra do Una is close to the quiet beach of Jurei. Camburi can produce some excellent lefts on a major S swell and Brava is another out of the way break. Maresias is one of the most popular surf spots in the area and the beach of choice for São Paulo's most beautiful people, with 4km (2.5mi) of clean sand and clear water with some good, consistent beach peaks. There are also a few reefs here, a good one can be found at Canto do Moreira. Sometimes the beach peaks here can really turn on the goods and produce epic waves. If it gets big, then the little fishing village of Pauba has some decent waves. A final and often worthwhile option is to take a ferry over to the beautiful coast of Ilhabela. If it’s dry then a dirt road will allow you to gain access to Castelhanos, which has hollow surf on an E swell. On S swells take a boat or walk for four hours to Bonete or try out the treacherous rights of Canto Bravo to the south of Veloso.


dominant swell E -S E -S E -S E -S E -S E -S
swell size (ft) 1-2 2 3 3-4 3 1-2
consistency (%) 40 50 70 80 70 40
dominant wind NE -SE NE -SE N -S N -S NE -S NE -S
average force F3 F3-F4 F3 F3 F3 F3
consistency (%) 62 63 71 73 80 65
water temp (C) 26 26 23 21 21 24
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts springsuit springsuit springsuit boardshorts

Travel Information

Although it’s a tropical area the Serra do Mar makes this area wetter and cooler than you would expect. São Paulo is at an altitude of about 800m, and can get cold and grey, while the coast is warm and sunny. During the winter (May-Sept) surf period, temps average 23°c (74°F), rarely falling under 18°c (64°F). Summers are hot and humid. The bad air pollution can make it very uncomfortable. Springsuits are generally sufficient, although, on some cooler winter mornings a light steamer may be the go.

Lodging and Food
There is the full range of accommodation possibilities in Guaruja. Surf season is the off-season for tourists, although July is still busy. Finding a $20 double in a Pousada or Chales (try the Villa Marini) in Maresias/Trindade is easy. Basic foodstuffs are cheap. When eating out, stick to the “Prato do dia” (dish of the day) or the pay by weight system in order to keep costs down.

Nature and Culture
Maresias is a packed beach, where people go to see and be seen. It’s the culmination of “Californian” style beach culture. Ilhabela is a nice place to escape the crowds and enjoy some good scenery. Parati to the N is an enjoyable colonial town.