South America is one of the most popular places in the world for surfing. In a lot of cases, surfers from Central America will travel further south to experience some of the most intense swells, barrels, and surfing conditions in the Americas. Despite this, South America also offers some of the calmest waters for beginners to get to grips with a surfboard.
As there are 12 countries in South America, the continent undoubtedly has a lot to offer when it comes to watersports. South America is also home to some of the most authentic and diverse cultures in the world, from the Carnival in Brazil to the gauchos (cowboys) in Uruguay.
Whether you’re planning on visiting Ecuador or Argentina to experience the surf scene in South America, we’ve got you covered. Here are the 10 best surfing lessons and surfing schools in South America for beginners, intermediate, and advanced surfers alike!
1. Amangala Surf Co. – The Galapagos Islands
Translating to “to love the Galapagos”, Amangala Surf Co. is a surfing school based in the Galapagos Islands, just off the coast of Ecuador. Not only are the Galapagos Islands known for inspiring Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, but the islands are also home to some of the best surf conditions in South America.
While some islands offer immense surf breaks, others offer shallow reefs with calmer waters suitable for surfers with limited skills.
Amangala Surf Co. primarily offers surf camp packages for visitors who wish to spend their entire vacation surfing. While these packages aren’t cheap, they’re certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that provides first-class services amongst a range of activities, including surfing, snorkeling, and visits to spotting the iconic Galapagos tortoises.
With such a range of islands, surfers partake in a “surfari” that essentially tours the islands to explore the varying water conditions. The Multi-Island package is the best option for those looking for some surf variety.
- Opportunity to explore the iconic Galapagos Islands
- First-class packages
- Variety of surfing conditions
- Prices are fairly high for all-inclusive packages
2. Wavehunters – Ecuador
Wavehunters is a surfing school based in various locations around the world where the surf conditions are at their best, and it makes sense why they have a branch in Ecuador. Wavehunters offers an all-inclusive tour across the country to allow surfers to experience the variety of conditions that Ecuador has to offer.
The prime season to book a Wavehunters experience is between December to April for advanced surfers, as this is when the swell is at its best. Beginners and intermediate surfers would benefit from visiting in summer when the winter swell has died down. As this is a tour (or a surfari), the cost of the package covers an array of accommodations across the country.
The hotels and villas happen to be of first-class quality, which is partly why the cost of the packages is pretty high. However, for the amount of surfing locations you get to visit on this tour, the price is justifiable for the surfing enthusiasts.
- Highly reputable worldwide surf camp
- Tour provides a variety of surf conditions
- First-class quality accommodation
- This is a tour package rather than singular lessons
3. Brasil Surf – Brazil
Moving to potentially the most popular tourist destination in South America, Brasil Surf (based in, you guessed it, Brazil) is committed to improving the mind and body through surfing. This Curitiba-based surf school is the largest surf school in Brazil, and has been running for over 10 years to train surfers of all skill levels.
So, whether you want to brush up on your skills to learn to stand on a board for the first time, Brasil Surf will help you to achieve your goals.
The surf school itself is based in the city and comes with a variety of land-based courses to improve surfing skills out of the water, including video analysis, classes on surf science, and pool training.
Both the on-land and in-water lessons are led by qualified professionals who work to improve the individual’s balance and flexibility once they’ve mastered the art of standing on a board.
Brasil Surf offers classes for all skill levels, as well as a surf tour package to take intermediate and advanced surfers around the beaches in the area.
- School is committed to improving the quality of surfing as well as the quantity of how many waves you catch
- Surf package option or individual lessons
- Classes vary from on-land and in-water lessons
- Lessons can come in long packages, so this school isn’t suitable for tourists on a short vacation
4. Pukana Surf School – Peru
If you’re in Peru and looking to try a lesson or two in surfing, make sure to check out Pukana Surf School. With over 16 years of experience, Pukana Surf School is dedicated to encouraging complete beginners to try their hand at surfing, whether you’re a local or tourist to Peru.
This surf school offers surf classes for adults and kids alike in either group or private class sizes. Each lesson is held by a passionate and qualified surf instructor who teaches the art of surfing whilst providing a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
The range of class types means that families can be split into groups fairly depending on their age, so kids and teenagers aren’t pressured to surf alongside adults if they don’t want to.
As well as a variety of lessons, Pukana Surf School also offers rental equipment for non-students, including surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, and bodyboards. While the lessons are pretty affordable, we recommend buying a bundle of classes to save money if you are interested in more than one surfing lesson.
- Suitable for kids, teenagers, and adults of all skill levels
- Led by a team of dedicated and passionate experts
- Rental equipment available
- Classes might not be challenging enough for advanced surfers.
5. Bahia Surf Camp – Brazil
If you fancy making your whole vacation about surfing, check out Bahia Surf Camp in Brazil. Located on a 7 kilometer-long private beach, Bahia Surf Camp offers accommodation that allows residents to use their time however they like – whether it’s through surfing and watersports or relaxing on the glorious sand.
This means that if you’re traveling as a family wherein someone doesn’t want to surf, they’ll have an abundance of other opportunities available!
The surf school itself is based on professional Australian surfing, which focuses on teaching the students about the ocean and their equipment within the first lesson. This is invaluable knowledge to beginners that helps to prepare them for their time in the water.
There are classes available for both beginners and intermediate surfers, both of which come with a personalized approach to get the most out of the classes. Plus, Bahia Surf Camp offers surf trips to take your skills across the nearby Brazilian coast.
Other activities at this surf camp include yoga, Pilates, meditation, massages, skating, biking, and going to the gym.
- Abundance of opportunities available
- Accommodation located on private beach
- Detailed surf classes help to improve skills fast
- While affordable in the low season, the package prices increase significantly in the high season
6. Mar de Plata Surf School – Argentina
With over 15 years of experience, Mar de Plata Surf School is one of the best surf schools in Argentina. Mar de Plata started with the aim of encouraging kids to get involved in the surfing community, and has since become a go-to school for people of all ages from all over the world who want to start their surfing journey.
This surf school offers surf lessons in a 4-point structure, with emphasis on development, technique, tact, and psychological fitness. As the beaches at Mar de Plata can be quite inconsistent in terms of swell and currents, it’s important that students partake in the on-land classes to understand which parts of the surf are unsafe for beginners.
A word of warning for potential website-visitors – the tuition fees are in Argentinian pesos rather than American dollars! So, while the price might look extortionately high, the lessons and rental costs are surprisingly cheap compared to other South American surfing schools.
- Ideal for kids and beginners
- Very affordable classes and rental costs
- Emphasis on water safety
- Some parts of the beaches are unsuitable for beginners and kids
7. Otra Ola – Ecuador
Based in Ayampe, Ecuador, Otra Ola is an idyllic camp that focuses on three main activities – yoga, Spanish, and surfing. If you’re intending to book a surfing vacation in South America, you might as well get the whole package and delve into the native language, right?
This camp offers Spanish lessons to improve your linguistic skills (great for chatting to locals in the water) and yoga classes to relax and strengthen your mind and body after a day of surfing.
The surf lessons can be held either privately or in a group of up to 6 people, with either option lasting 90 minutes. Otra Ola features an array of surf conditions, including gentle swells for beginners to larger sets for advanced surfers.
Unlike most other camps, Otra Ola provides the option of booking a week of surfing lessons without having to stay in the accommodation, which is ideal for travelers on a budget.
The surfing, Spanish, and yoga packages can be purchased separately or all together for a well-rounded experience.
- Three in one – surfing, Spanish, and yoga lessons
- Suitable for all skill levels due to variety of water conditions
- Option to do surfing lessons without being a resident at the camp
- Prices are slightly higher compared to other surf schools in South America
8. Praia de Pipa Surf Camp – Brazil
Praia de Pipa, based in Rio Grande do Norte, offers surfing vacations on the Brazilian coast, featuring crystal clear waters, an abundance of dolphins, and an array of wave sizes.
The certified and experienced instructors have developed a class structure that is suitable for both beginners and intermediate surfers alike, consisting of a one-hour theoretical lesson and a two-hour practical lesson in the water a day. This structure is proven to quickly improve surfing skills and performance.
While the surf school and accommodation options can be bought separately, there is also an option to stay at Praia de Pipa in one of their hostels. These private and shared hostels are ideal for solo travelers who wish to get away from commercial hotels and instead delve into Brazilian life. The rooms are complete with Wi-Fi, a balcony with a hammock, and access to common rooms to mingle with other guests.
- Extensive theoretical and practical lessons to improve surf performance quickly
- Option to choose accommodation and surf lessons separately or together
- Suitable for all skill levels
- Hostel isn’t high-quality and best suited for budget travelers rather than anyone looking for first-class accommodation
9. Urcia Surf School – Peru
Based in Peru, Urcia Surf School is the best school for students who want to learn from the best. This surf school is run by a team of professional surfers who can offer lessons to beginner, intermediate, and even competitive surfers. Urcia Surf School is based in Huanchaco, a UNESCO World Surfing Reserve, which happens to offer some of the best waters in the entire country.
Urcia Surf School is the ideal place for travelers looking for excitement while on a budget. The accommodation available isn’t exactly world-class, but the rooms are great for the price of the packages. Plus, these packages are all about the surfing experience anyway. With five surf breaks across Huanchaco, surfers are given constant challenges well within their grasp.
Urcia surf school also offers a traditional fisher boat tour with the opportunity to make Caballitos – traditional fishing boats made from reeds.
- Led by a team of professional surfers
- Suitable for beginners and competitive surfers alike
- Affordable accommodation
- Hostel rooms can’t fit more than 2 people
10. Galapagos Bike & Surf – Ecuador
Located in the city of Machala, Galapagos Bike & Surf offers surfing lessons and equipment rentals to locals and tourists alike. It doesn’t matter what your skill level is, as the qualified instructors are prepared to take on both beginners and advanced surfers.
The swell in the water is consistent depending on the weather, but the instructors will change the location of the surfing lesson according to the conditions regardless.
This surf school is ideal for those who don’t want to be tied down to a surf camp, which is why so many beginners take one or two lessons while on their vacation in Ecuador. Plus, the option to rent bikes and surfboards allows for complete exploration of the local area both in and out of the water.
- Based near consistent and safe waters
- Not a surf camp, purely lesson-based
- Option to rent surfboards or bikes
- Limited information available on website