The list

Surf spots in South America. Photo courtesy of Surftripmaps.com

I SCAN a lot of travel sites and blogs when I’m fucking around the internet. One thing I’ve noticed from this online trawling is that lists, particularly the rampant ‘top ten’ style ones are one of the worst kind of post a blogger can put up on their site. Derision from the online community comes from the fact that these kinds of posts don’t usually offer any real insights. Most of the time the list post faux pas is simply the result of the author’s unimaginative, uncreative mind and their person’s complete lack of having anything interesting or worthwhile to say. But they sure are easy to write. And on that note here’s my list of the top 11 best waves I’ve surfed in Latin America:

Colombia drainer.

11. Costeño Beach

A bit of a novelty entry, I was lucky to even score waves on the notoriously fickle Colombian Caribbean coast. But I’ll throw it in the list anyway because I still managed to get barreled every day and it was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.

10. Santana Wedge

The Newcastle boys I was traveling with and I happened upon this spot by accident when we were driving around looking for the more fancied Popoyo. It was pretty small but really punchy and I do love me a wedge. Check the above video to see some pros tearing it apart.

9. Playa Hermosa

Supposedly Costa Rica’s version of Puerto Escondido, I surfed this place three times a day for a week straight but it didn’t really get above 3-4ft. I still had a ball though and managed to find uncrowded heaving peaks the entire week.

8. Santa Catalina

I’ve heard claims that this wave on Panama’s Pacific coast is the best right in Central America. I’m not so sure, but I did have a few good surfs there in my 12-day stay. Supposedly one of the more manageable big-wave spots going around, the downside is the amount of crew in the lineup every session. I counted close to 40 my first day there. Beautiful scenery though.

Photo JC Lombardi/Magic Seaweed.

7. El Colegio

The most famed spot in Iquique, north Chile, El Colegio is a heaving right that fires up during winter swells. Check this photo of local ripper JC Lombardi bottom turning into a bomb about six weeks after I passed through the city. Not only does the dude’s top-floor apartment sit on the esplanade right in front of this wave (I went up there with my mate who was selling him a board), he’s also got a jetski and a bangin’ wife as well. C#nt. I didn’t score the wave huge, but still paddled out for a couple of 6ft sessions and some of the biggest waves of my trip. It gets its name because it breaks in close proximity to the local college, so not only are people educated in front of the beach – there are plenty getting schooled out in the water too. Zing!

6. Los Muelles

Maybe not world-class but still a quality beachie and I surfed this spot more than any other wave on my current trip. Situated halfway between the two more-fancied surfed spots in Lobitos, north Peru, Muelles needs a decent-sized swell to start breaking, but when it does it’s a board-snapper. It’s good too ‘cos when it’s breaking there’s a lot of drift, which means people are forever walking back up the beach to jump off the pier – thus dispersing the crowds. A sick bodyboarding wave, there’s not much else to do here than take off, pull in, get smashed and come up gasping with sand coming out of every orifice. You’d probably make less than 10 percent of the tubes you pull into out here. Reminded me a little of Puerto Escondido on a small day. Also made me homesick – the jetty setup reminding me of Brighton in South Australia (my hometown).

5. Punta Dos

Bodyboarding heaven. I’ve never seen so many good bodyboarders concentrated in the one spot.There were 14-year-old kids throwing ARSs off the gnarliest sections with dry reef beneath them, without even batting an eyelid. Had some good surfs out at this slab in Iquique, north Chile, but it was tough to get a lot of waves because of the crowd. The right gets scary shallow on low-tide so I’d move my attention to the left, which still scared the shit out of me.

4. Punta Colorada

Bodyboarding heaven with sand, Colorada is about a 10-minute drive from Playa Zicatela in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. It’s a ‘bodyboarders only’ spot. I’ve heard stories about dudes on standups being beaten up by locals after attempting to surf the place and there’s also a rivermouth nearby where crocs have been sighted. Breaks super close to the shore resulting in really heavy barrels and ramps.

3. Panic Point

Consistently rated one of Peru’s top two tubes this is a no-nonsense wave. Paddling out for my single surf I had there I thought it looked only OK until a guy took off on a set wave about 50m away from me. Seven or eight seconds later after negotiating his way through a warping funnel that looked like Snapper Rocks in reverse (only breaking dangerously close to rocks the entire wave) he was spat out in front of me with a giant grin on his face. When the tide starts heading out huge rocks start popping up and gurgling mid-face when dudes are pulling into tubes, hence the name, Panic Point. My mate Ferruco, a Peruvian photog taking pictures the day I surfed it, pointed out several of Peru’s best surfers to me after the session. When the wave is gonna be on, the cream of the crop is out there.

2. El Gringo

One of South America’s most infamous waves. A World Championship Tour surfing contest was held there in Arica in 2007 resulting in more than a few of the world’s best getting battered and bruised on the rocks. Here’s what Hawaiian ripper Freddy Pattachia had to say in Surfer Magazine’s writeup of the comp: “It’s up there with those waves like Pipe and Tahiti, where your career and your life are on the line. It’s not a place where I think amateurs should grow up surfing. If you see guys like myself and Cory Lopez and Adriano de Souza, guys on the Top 45, getting hurt and struggling out here, it’s definitely a world-class wave and not one you should take lightly.” Needless to say I was pretty rattled during my one surf out there.

1. Zicatela

It was always going to be a toss-up between Mexican Pipeline and El Gringo but I gave the former the nod because I surfed it more and the sand-bottom is more forgiving than El Gringo’s barnacle-encrusted reef, which is perfect for me. There’s not much you can say about Zicatela, Puerto Escondido other than it gets big and scary and perfect. The best beachbreak in the world. Check out the Jeff Hubbard highlights from the recent Zicatela Pro bodyboard contest.

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