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Tchê Waves: Secrets to Surfing Southern Brazil’s Premier Swells

You’ve been dreaming about riding the legendary tchê waves off Brazil’s southern coast for years. The perfect tubes and long walls of water that seem to go on forever have been calling your name. Well, it’s time to finally make those dreams a reality. This insider’s guide will give you the lowdown on everything you need to know to score epic sessions at tchê—from the best spots and optimal conditions to where to stay, what boards to ride, localism and etiquette, and more. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be shredding these world-class waves in no time. The tchê are waiting, so pack your bags and get ready to experience the ride of your life on Brazil’s premier swells.

An Introduction to Tchê Waves

The southern coastline of Brazil is home to some of the most consistent and high-quality surf on the planet. The area from Florianopolis south to the border of Uruguay is known as the Tchê region, named after the beach breaks that produce fast, hollow barrels and quick snap sections. The Tchê coastline picks up swells from the South Atlantic, as well as sneaker swells that wrap around the southern tip of Brazil from the Indian Ocean.

Year-Round Surf

The Tchê region offers rideable surf year-round. The summer months from December through March see the most consistent swell activity, with wave heights up to 8 feet on the best days at premier spots. Even during the winter, rideable surf in the 3 to 6 foot range can be found on most days along the 300-mile coastline. The key is being mobile and willing to chase the best conditions each day.

Diverse Wave Types

In addition to the beach breaks like Guarda do Embaú and Itacaré that the Tchê region is known for, there are also rivermouth breaks, point breaks and reef breaks to discover. Guarda do Embaú is a fast, hollow beach break that can produce tubes for experienced surfers. The point break at Prainha do Pontal do Sul is more forgiving, with slower, rolling rights and lefts perfect for all skill levels. No matter what kind of wave you’re looking for, the Tchê coast likely has something in store for you.

Uncrowded Lineups

Despite the consistent surf, the Tchê region remains largely undeveloped and uncrowded. You won’t find massive resorts, high-rise condos or surf schools packed with beginners. The coastline retains a laid-back, rustic vibe with small fishing villages and beach towns. The lack of development and difficult access to many of the best spots help keep the surf uncrowded, even during the busy summer season. With some exploring, you can find empty waves all to yourself.

The Tchê region holds a lifetime’s worth of surf exploration for the intrepid traveler. Pack your bags, brush up on your Portuguese and get ready to score some empty barrels in a surf mecca unlike anywhere else. The secrets of the Tchê are waiting to be unlocked by those willing to venture off the beaten path.

Where to Find the Best Tchê Waves in Southern Brazil

Florianópolis

The island of Florianópolis off the coast of Santa Catarina is considered the surfing capital of Brazil, with 42 miles of coastline and 365 beaches, many of which produce pumping tchê waves. Joaquina Beach on the east coast gets heavy barrels during the winter that can reach up to 15 feet. On the west coast, Praia Mole is a popular surf spot with hollow barrels and Santa Mônica Beach offers fast, powerful breaks for expert surfers.

Imbituba

About an hour south of Florianópolis, Imbituba is a beach town known for producing some of the biggest and most consistent waves in Brazil, with swells frequently reaching 25 feet and higher during the winter. The main spots are Barra da Lagoa, which holds the record for the largest wave ever surfed in Brazil at over 38 feet, and Zé Doca, a heavy, barreling wave that is best left to expert surfers only. Garopaba Garopaba, another beach town south of Florianópolis, has over 18 miles of coastline with various beach and point break options for all skill levels.

The most well-known spots are Praia da Ferrugem, a fast, hollow wave that can reach up to 20 feet, and Siriú, a popular reef break that produces both smaller and barreling waves, especially in the winter. The waves here tend to be smaller in the summer but more frequent, so it’s a popular year-round destination.

The coastline of Santa Catarina offers tchê waves for surfers of all abilities, from smaller beach breaks perfect for beginners to expert-only barreling reefs that reach terrifying heights. With its miles of coastline, Santa Catarina could keep keen surfers entertained for years discovering new secret spots and riding its most famous heavy waves. If you’re looking to experience the best surfing Brazil has to offer, head south to ride the tchê waves.

Gear and Technique for Riding Tchê Waves

To ride the famous Tchê waves, you’ll need the proper gear and technique.The key is practicing the fundamentals and gaining experience in the unique conditions.

Surfboard

For Tchê’s hollow barrels and fast waves, use a high-performance shortboard, around 6 to 7 feet. A rounded pin tail helps with control and generating speed. The extra length will also make paddling over the swell easier.

Wetsuit

The water temperatures demand a full wetsuit, ideally 3/2 to 4/3 thickness. The extra insulation will keep you comfortable for longer sessions. Booties and gloves are also recommended for the rough reef.

Technique

The most important thing is getting into the wave as early as possible. Start paddling while the swell is still behind you, and pop up quickly once you feel the push. Tchê’s fast, powerful waves require decisive action.

To handle the speed and make it through the barrel, keep your weight forward on the board, bend your knees and stay low.Subtle shifts in weight and small turns of the board will help navigate the tube. The key is staying centered and not getting distracted by the roar of the barrel.

For the bigger sets, the drop-in will be very steep. Bend your knees and keep your arms out for balance as you descend at high speed. Once at the bottom, start generating speed by pumping the board to stay ahead of the crashing lip.

The ultimate thrill is pulling into the barrel and shooting out the end. But start by practicing the drop-in and navigating the face of the waves. Build up your experience and confidence before attempting to get barrelled.With the right gear and technique, Tchê’s legendary waves will serve up the ride of a lifetime. Stay safe out there!

Top Tchê Waves Surf Spots in Santa Catarina

Tchê offers some the most consistent waves in Brazil, with miles of coastline and countless surf spots. Here are some of the best:

Praia da Joaquina

Just south of Florianópolis, Praia da Joaquina is a popular spot that works best at mid to high tide with a south or southeast wind. It has two main peaks with hollow barrels and air sections. The beach itself has a fun, laid-back vibe with lots of beach shacks serving up cold beer and fresh seafood.

Praia Mole

Praia Mole is a iconic surf spot located within a scenic cove flanked by rainforest-covered hills. It offers fast, barreling waves and airs at a variety of skill levels. The point break works best at mid to high tide with a light offshore wind. There are showers, restrooms and a handful of casual restaurants right on the beach.

Barra da Lagoa

Barra da Lagoa is a mellow surf spot perfect for beginners and longboarders. Located on the east side of the Lagoa da Conceição, an inlet cut off from the sea by a narrow sandbar. Multiple peaks break over the sandbar, with waist-high rollers that peel steadily down the beach. Rent a beach bike or kayak to explore the lagoon when the surf is flat.

Praia dos Ingleses

Praia dos Ingleses, or “Englishman’s Beach,” was named after the British pirates who once frequented its shores. Today, it’s a popular surfing and sunbathing beach located just south of Florianópolis. Several beach breaks produce hollow barrels and big airs, including the famed “British rights”—a fast, powerful right-hander that works best at mid tide. There are showers, lifeguards and beachfront hotels, with rustic seafood restaurants lining the shore.

From the pounding beach breaks of Praia da Joaquina to the mellow rollers of Barra da Lagoa, Santa Catarina offers premier surfing for all skill levels. With its lush scenery, vibrant culture and perfect waves, it’s easy to see why Tchê has become a surfing mecca. The secret is out!

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