Nuqui on the Colombian Pacific Coast has some of the best waves in not only Colombia but perhaps South America, however with difficult access and timing the trip for a decent swell can be the difference between an OK and an amazing trip! Boat access is needed for the best spots which can be expensive so having a small or large group (3-8) will help a lot but also coming at the right time of year, knowing where to stay according to your budget, understanding how to get here and what to do if the forecast changes. The Colombian Pacific Coast is frontier surfing at its finest. With the information in this article, we will navigate you through the pitfalls so you score epic waves on your trip and not spend it wishing you had known more before you came.
A little about the Nuqui area in regards to surfing
Nuqui is a transport hub to the greater Choco Region as it has an airport. Outside of Nuqui there are no roads. At all. It’s boat transport from here on out.
Also, most of the breaks are not in Nuqui itself. In fact, most of the tourism is not in Nuqui itself. Most tourists are using Nuqui as a transport hub only. The hotels they are staying at, including ours at Prana Pacifico, are approximately a 45-minute boat ride south of Nuqui. Once in this area you have access to several beach breaks for a quick and cost-effective surf and boat hire to take you to the more quality point breaks south of Nuqui towards Cabo Corrientes.
Boat access to better waves:
Below we are going to talk about the various breaks nearby but it should be noted that because there are no roads then all remote surf locations need to be accessed by boat. Boats can be expensive here unlike in other parts of the world so if you are a solo surf traveler then this can be a budget issue.
To take advantage of the best waves then a group of between 3-10 would work in your budgets favor to split boat fees however if you are by yourself a trip to a remote point can be ‘sold’ to other surfing or non-surfing tourists in the area as you can also go fishing and sightseeing meaning you may be able to recruit some others to help you with the costs.
Cabo Corrientes as we mentioned is a special place and should be seen by all who visit. During the whale watching tourists then non-surfers can also have the quite high potential to see whales breaching as they migrate here to give birth from the Southern Hemisphere. Best time of year for whales is between July and October.
Best time for surfing in and around Nuqui
The best months to surf Colombia’s Pacific Coast is from April to December. If you ask the locals many of them say May is the best month. At this time the swell is large enough (2m plus) to wrap around the cape south of Nuqui which shelters it from the dominant swell direction (South West) and light up the beach breaks nearby Nuqui like Guachalito, Termales, Playa Terco and Terco. It is advisable to check the swell and try to time your trip for a decent forecast. A decent 1 meter plus swell from the South West should see all levels of surfer getting some great waves.
If at this time you want something for more advanced surfers then a boat ride away to the south you can get to the exposed side of Cabo Corrientes where the swell breaks heavy and hard in rocky left point breaks.
If you are coming outside of this April to December period then the swell is likely small and kinda messy wind period waves and while you can definitely still get waves at all the beach breaks and Cabo Corrientes they will be smaller and shorter rides. Depending on the level of you and your group you may even prefer this as a small period wind swell at Cabo Corrientes could suit an intermediate surfer who wants an adventure. Cabo Corrientes is like stepping into Jurrasic Park. Fish and Pelicans share the lineup and you can hear and see the jungle life as you surf. If you get thirsty just paddle in and find a coconut to drink before paddling back out again. Cabo Corrientes is special a place!
At the end of this article we will tell you how to get to the area logistically by plane or boat and also advise on the best places to stay according to your budget and what to do if your forecast waves don’t arrive but now let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the main surf spots nearby Nuqui.
Beach Breaks South of Nuqui
Whenever arriving in a new surf location the sight of rock crops always makes you think but despite this, the area has some nice sand bottom beach which is suitable for learners as well.
Playa de Guachalito
Probably the best surf beach in the area due to its more flat beach profile it is surrounded by tropical jungle and several hotels and retreats. Guachalito is mostly sand with some rocks and has a consistent left and right break. In between these there are shifting peaks in both directions. The beach is about 300 meters wide only and you can expect rides of perhaps 20 – 30 m in the better swell seasons.
Guachalito is highly effected by tides, as are all of the beach breaks we will talk about in this article, and thus it is best surfed at a mid to high tide. At low tide, the waves will shut down very quickly but if this doesn’t phase you then there are still waves to be had.
Playa de Guachalito is approximately 15 or 20 minutes walk from Prana Pacifico (known as Morro Terco to the locals) and about 50 minutes walk from Termales. The walk is along the coast on small jungle paths that criss-cross in between hotels and sandy beaches. Flip flops are a good idea if your feet aren’t used to rock and pebbles. See the map below for the exact location.
Things to watch out for at Guachalito
- At high tide, the walk to Guachalito beach can be difficult as the tide will come right up to the jungle which means that the beach that you want to walk on is actually underwater. In this case, paddling or swimming is an option so be aware that any electronics you have should either be left at your hotel (you won’t have cell phone signal anyhow) or in a dry bag if you are taking them.
- There is often trees, branches, and logs floating in the water precisely where you are surfing. They float just below the surface of the water and aren’t always visible to you so be careful when dropping in or exiting a wave. If it has rained the night before you are more likely to see branches and trees washed down out of the jungle from the various small rivers which meet the ocean.
Playa de Morro Terco
Situated immediately beside Prana Pacifico and the small island known as Morro Terco there is a left-hand rock and sand point break created by the geography of the island. This can also be a great place to spectate your surfer friends or take photos of them as there is a walk out to the surf point that will give you a decent view from above the waves. Be careful in big swell as the waves will also crash in this area potentially so don’t get too close. If you happen to be here in whale season (June – October) then this is also a great place to spot them and hear them sing!
Things to watch out for at Playa Terco
- Similar to Guachalito it is highly tide affected so mid tides are the best time to catch a wave here especially in the smaller swell months (January – March).
- If you are staying at Prana Pacifico this is a 5-minute walk from your breakfast table. If you are walking from Termales its approximately 30 minutes walk.
- There is also a great pier and walkway on the small island of Morro Terco which is a great point to watch the sunset and drink a beer or check out the swell. You will see many locals making phone calls and hanging out at the bottom of Morro Terco as it has good cell phone reception around there. It is also a place where boats will sometimes come in to pick up or drop off passengers and supplies.
Termales Village is south of Prana Pacifico approximately a 30-minute walk away along a very long beach with kilometers of sandbars for you to choose from. You can find a sandbank which works just right for you. We would recommend a mid-tide but you can find a wave at any time if you are keen. The mornings will often have less wind than the afternoons.
Things to watch out for at Termales
- Floating trees are a problem here as well so look out as they like to hide just below the surface.
Cabo Corrientes (boat trip to better quality waves)
If you want to go a little further afield in search of some waves then Cabo Corrientes is a great choice when in the area. Its located about a 45-minute boat ride from Termales Village and is a left-hand point break over rocky reef.
While it can be small and mellow (3-4 foot) from January – March. From May to December can see much bigger (2-3m) swells in which case you would not want to learn to surf here. Experienced surfers only.
If you have been surfing a while and are wondering if you are up for it then a useful gauge would be if you have surfed shallow rocky points before in similar size waves. If not then this is a potentially dangerous place. If you have surfed ‘waves of consequence’ a lot before then you will most likely enjoy the challenge.
There is tube potential here for sure.
If you are already in the area then a boat trip can be organized through Termales Surf School. Just show up and ask to go to Cabo Corrientes for a surf trip. A boat will cost around 350 000 COP and can fit around 8-10 people. You can also go fishing at the same time.
Map 1: Surf breaks nearby Nuqui and Prana Pacifico
Renting equipment vs bringing your own
You can rent boards here but it’s expensive. You don’t need a wet suit, the water is body temperature. You could bring your own equipment but there is a knack to it. Read on for more details. You can rent boards from the Surf School in Termales. They have a selection of decent boards for hire by the day. Check out this link for pricing (need a link to our pricing article here).
Termales Surf Schol can provide gear and surf lessons if you are interested in learning to surf. The beach breaks of Termales are perfect for learning with consistent soft and easy waves with no danger of rocks and very little current.
Bringing your own equipment
We recommend you fly with St German airlines and while they can take boards they won’t necessarily be able to get it on the same flight as yourself. (wondering how to get to Nuqui by flight or plane? Check out our article here on how to get to Nuqui). If you are flying, ideally pack up your board and get it to the Olaya Herrera airport a few days before you are set to fly yourself. The planes here are small and sometimes they get full of food and other more essential things so doing this ensures it will be there when you arrive.
Other gear like leashes, wax fins etc are difficult to find here so bring all the extras you think you may need.
How to get to Nuqui, Colombia (and waves!)
Logistically there are a few things to understand to get here but we have all the details you need no matter where you are coming from. If you love traveling to surf and experiencing what it might have been like to discover Indonesian surf decades ago then you are on the right path. This is frontier surfing at its finest.
- You can learn out how to get to Medellin (an important route on the way to Nuqui) from the USA or Spain here . Some USA and Spanish cities have direct flights to Medellin and others don’t so we help you to understand the best ports to get to us more quickly here on the coast.
- Once in Medellin you can fly to Nuqui and from there take boat transport to your nearby hotel. We describe all of the logistics here.
- There is also a third option which is the boat from Buenaventura which may suit you if you are coming from Cali, Colombia or indeed if after your trip you want to go south and avoid going back to Medellin at all. We describe this here.
Where to stay to take advantage of Nuqui surf breaks?
- We at Prana Pacifico are smack bang in between all of the beaches described in this article so have good access to Termales for rental and an easy walk from both Guachalito, Morro Terco, and Termales breaks.
- For a full breakdown check out our article here on where to stay in and around Nuqui.
Prana Pacifico Surf Package:
If you are wanting an all inclusive surf package for your trip to the coast then we have all-inclusive, 4-day surf package for the individual or for groups from $1,575,000.00 COP per person which includes,
- Tourist Tax upon arrival to Nuqui
- Private Boat transfers to property
- Hotel insurance
- Welcome drink on arrival
- 3 nights Accommodation in unique island property
- 3 healthy regional meals a day plus snacks
- Entrance to Termales Hot springs
- 3x surf lessons / sessions
- Board rental
- Day trip to Cabo Corrientes in lancha boat
- Alcoholic beverages (beer available for purchase on site).
Read the full details of our 2019 Surf Package here, including the ability to book, full pricing options and sample itinerary.
Alternative surf activities:
Waves and weather are a fickle thing. Just in case your waves aren’t as predicted then there are a whole host of activities to do including Whale Watching, diving, cooking classes, massage, jungles hikes, thermal baths fishing, fusion dining and more. Check out our full list of activities including prices, description of the activity and instructions on how to book.