Best for beginners: Barra da Lagoa
An old fishing community on the eastern side of the island, Barra da Lagoa is undoubtedly the ideal spot for beginner surfers. Several surf schools offer individual and group lessons in Portuguese, English and Spanish, making it easy to get started. The waves at Barra da Lagoa are also a benefit to beginners, with swells generally smaller and easier to navigate than elsewhere. There are left- and right-hand breaks and consistent waves from ground swells. As a bonus, the beach has plenty of restaurants and hostels nearby, making it an excellent hub for a surf trip.
Best for intermediate: Praia Mole
Praia Mole gets its name from the soft, squishy sand at the beach, but perhaps it should have been named for the swell instead. This is an exposed beach break, with the south winds offering some of the best waves, though there are great ground swells too. Thanks to the consistently good conditions, and both left and right hand breaks, this is a popular surf beach that is best enjoyed during the winter months. It’s most suited to surfers with a little bit of experience because of the potentially dangerous rips.
Best for advanced: Praia Joaquina
Just south from Barra da Lagoa and Praia Mole is Praia Joaquina, or Joaca as it’s known by the locals. This is an exposed beach break, loved by the locals for its consistent ground swells, though the best waves come in winter. The breaks are mainly left-handers and there are also some rips to watch out for, making it more suitable for advanced surfers.
Best for nature enthusiasts: Praia Galheta
Adjacent to Praia Mole and only accessible via foot trail, Praia Galheta is the spot to become one with the waves. Surrounded by pristine Atlantic forest and without any restaurants or shops to crowd the beach, this is pure paradise. The beach is also known for being nude optional; during winter months when the waves are at their best this place is nearly deserted, except for local surfers.