This is the well filmed and photographed Lagoa do Cauipe about 8kms south of Cumbuco. The home of many a pro and beginner kiteboarder for many months of the year.
Some areas can get a little crowded at times but are definitely worth the visit. The winds are amazingly smooth, and with over 400kms of wind and wave beaches this is a kitesurfers surfari and downwinder delight! The wind does blow hard here so bring your smallest kites is very good advice - a 6m -7.5m.
Barra/Lagoa do Cauipe, a flat water lagoon downwind south from Cumbuco.
Lagoa do Taiba - another idyllic flat water lagoon which is a little less crowded than Cauipe.The towns of Paracuru and Prea are also great kiteboarding locations.
Some of the Best Spots
The place everyone goes for kiteboarding Brazil. Cumbuco is about 40 minutes from Fortaleza and the airport which is probably why everyone goes there. The town has a great selection of pousadas, restaurants, and shops compared to most of the other places we went to but, because of this, it is very commercial. I did like it because there was a lot to do at night and in the day (if for some crazy reason you didn’t want to kite) but I was not impressed with the quality of the kiting there. The wind doesn’t seem to start as early or last as long because of the direction (little off-shore in the morning), the water is a chop-fest, and it can get crowded. However just outside of Cumbuco are two great lagoons – Icarai Lagoa and the famous Lagoa do Cauipe which I will talk about later.With the exception of Fortaleza, accommodation in Cumbuco was significantly more expensive than anywhere else we stayed. Prices start around $60R or $70R for a room including breakfast in the lower season and go up in the higher season (nov and dec). We stayed at Sunset Beach Hotel and Vel Azul (same place basically) and were very happy with the food, staff, rooms, and grounds. We highly recommend them.
Lagoa do Cauipe
Most kiters have seen this lagoon before, either in videos, pictures or in person. It is the go-to lagoon for kiting in Brazil. On a busy day you might find over 40 kites packed into this lagoon with many more watching from the sides. Not comfortable with your riding? You probably won’t like it here. However, if you come earlier, stay later, or hit it on the right days (not Sat. or Sun.) you will be ok.The Lagoon is about 7kms downwind from Cumbuco. You can get here driving on the beach in five minutes or on the road in 20. Lots of people downwind to the lagoon with rides arranged later in the day with their hotel, friends, or a buggy rental company.One of the best parts about this lagoon are the huts with table and chairs and the tiny restaurants that you can get cold beer and food from. Sitting at the lagoon’s edge with your feet in the water, cold beer in hand, watching the sunset after a long day of kiting is such a good feeling I’m not even going to try to put it into words. You will just have to go.
Icarai is the town you will pass through five minutes before getting to Cumbuco. Not many kiters stay here for reasons I don’t know but lots of surfers seem to. We ate there quite often and all day long you see people walking to and from the beach with surf and boogie boards in hand.Icarai also has a pretty decent lagoon about half the size of Cauipe but with 1/10th the kiters (usually). There are hidden rocks (razor sharp) in two places under the water line that probably scare most of the kiters away (or the stories told about them) but if you know where they are, this is an awesome spot for some un-crowded lagoon kiting. Ask someone who knows the lagoon and they will show you where the rocks are. The lagoon is easy to find, you will see it from the road.Accommodations here are priced similar to Cumbuco. While we were there, Icarai had the closest bank machine to Cumbuco.
When in Cumbuco, you will probably notice a huge shipping port about 15kms downwind. That is Porto do Pecem, the next town over. The wind is side-offshore and a little bit gusty but that is all made up for by the conditions. By far the biggest and cleanest swell we experienced our whole trip. We had heard about kiting in Pecem, seen it on videos, but unfortunately only made it here a few days before coming home. Next time we will be spending a couple weeks here for sure.
Taiba is great. I liked it here more than any of the other places we went. Taiba is home to a lagoon, good wave riding and surfing and a good variety of pousadas and restaurants. Compared to Cumbuco, Taiba definitely has more of a small-town feel. The restaurants and pousadas here are fairly cheap; We had our accommodation and food (eating out two or three meals a day) costs down to under $60R per day for the two of us. You need to look around for the best prices, though.Depending on the month we were there, the lagoon was either very busy or completely empty. In Sept. we would often have the whole lagoon to ourselves in 30+ knot winds. Some days in Nov. we would have an extremely crowded lagoon in 15 knot winds. Now, don’t let this discourage you from going to Taiba in the busier months as you can always find time to ride in the lagoon or in the ocean and there are always lots of people to mingle with off water.One mandatory stop there, and one of our favorite restaurants in Brazil, was a small place, one street back from the city square, called Cantina de Amelia. We ate here almost every night we spent in Taiba (40+). Dinner is a traditional Brazilian plate with your choice of meat or fish.
After Taiba, you can head 45 minutes up the coast to Paracuru. There is only really one spot to kite in Paracuru which is located on the beach in front of a restaurant and kite school. This is one of the nicer ocean spots we rode but can get very busy. When the tide is low, there is an area of relatively flat water protected by a rocky reef farther out. Outside of this reef you will get some decent waves which get mushier and smaller as the tide comes in. With a higher tide, the flat water will become choppy and most of why Paracuru is so great is gone. You do need to be cautious when kiting here with a low tide, however, as certain areas can get pretty shallow with a rocky bottom. There are also some poles sticking out of the ground (used by the local fishermen) a few hundred yards downwind that become invisible at high tide. You will know exactly what I mean if you go.From the kite spot you have to drive about 5-10 minutes to the city center. By far one of the nicer towns went to with a huge church right in the center surrounded by restaurants, shops, and pousadas. There is a lot to do here and should be a mandatory stop when traveling up the coast.
I think Lagoinha is going to be the next big spot in Ceara, but don’t tell anyone. A popular spot for Brazilian tourists, Lagoinha looks out over a big hill-side onto a beautiful beach covered in rental ATVs and beach huts. The town is actually very small apart from some largeish resorts or hotels and some big houses. There is little to do here at night other than hang out in the city center with the locals. No bars, few restaurants, and practically no other gringos (which we didn’t mind at all).Kiting here is excellent. There is a lagoon a few kms down the beach which is typically almost empty. It’s a narrow, but long (short tacks) lagoon which can get pretty shallow on the upwind side. Watch out for the little crabs that like to pinch your feet.The ocean kiting here is also pretty good. The beach is super wide at a lower tide and is very easy to navigate with a car – perfect for downwinders.A popular downwinder destination from Lagoinha is Flexeiras. You’ll experience flat water, waves, short break, and chop in the 15 kms it takes to get to Flexeiras. There isn’t much between the two towns and you should watch the tides to make sure you don’t get stuck somewhere in the middle. There are busses that run from Flexeiras to Lagoinha that can take you back if you don’t have someone willing to drive.
After you finish your downwinder from Lagoinha, you’ll end up in Flexeiras. This place is pretty popular with kiters and is one of the two places in Ceara where we saw windsurfers. The whole city is lined with pousadas, some cheap some extremely expensive ($1600R+), and a pretty good selection of restaurants.Flexeiras is a bay which can be very gusty if you’re not at the far upwind or downwind side. Anywhere in the middle will have slightly off-shore wind and will be no fun to kite in. The water goes fairly flat on lower tides and choppy on higher tides. Two things you have to be careful of are all the fishing posts placed in areas just offshore of the beach and rocks. The posts are easy to avoid but the rocks can be hidden, just keep your eyes out. It’s something I never worried about unless the tide was out.There’s a really good pizza place here with a very friendly owner on the east side of town. I don’t remember the name but there are signs everywhere for it.
Our next stop was four hours up the coast to Prea. It seems almost everyone who goes to Prea is just stopping off on their way to Jericoacoara. As soon as you get here, you’ll be bombarded by Brazilians on scooters asking (more like telling) you if you need a guide to Jeri. This can be pretty annoying but a guide to Jeri is a good idea (see: Jericoacoara section). I didn’t see many pousadas here with the exception for a few on the beach. There is, however, a largish kite resort here but it’s relatively expensive and didn’t interest us at all.The four times we kited here, the wind was nuking from the time we got up until we went to sleep. It seems the wind would die to about 20knot at night which was perfect for keeping our 2nd story room cool all night. The water here is very choppy with a decent shore break on lower tides. I don’t think I would ever stay here for longer than a couple days but it’s a great place to go to get your big air fix.
Jeri is definitely one of the must-go places in Ceara. It’s located on a nature preserve (National Park) which you can only reach by driving on the beach from Prea or through the dunes from Jijoca. If you have a 4x4 you can take either route but I doubt a car could make it through the dunes on its own power. However, we do know that a broken car can be towed through the dunes by a Mitsubishi L200 (ask me how I know). I recommend picking up a guide in Jijoca or Prea if it’s your first time driving to Jeri. We spent about $20R to follow a guy on a scooter for the twenty minutes it took to get there.Jeri is a very unique place with cultural inspiration from all over the world. It seems a lot of foreigners own pousadas and restaurants here and it’s a popular tourist stop so there are quite a few English speaking people.Jeri had the best night life out of everyplace we went (except maybe Fortaleza). Every night people will line the streets and beach for food, drinks and later, dancing. At night, down the main strip that leads to the beach, you will find vendors who will make you almost any drink you can think of for relatively cheap. This is the Jeri hot-spot at night.Though there is plenty to do in Jeri,But for kiteboarding Brazil its not great - one thing you can’t do is kite. Well, you can, but it’s in off-shore and extremely gusty wind. Your best options are driving up the beach until the wind becomes side-shore or drive to Prea. One option you have is to downwinder the 15kms from Prea. We did this once and with the exception of being extremely tired and expecting it to be 1/3 as long as it really was; it was a lot of fun. It takes a few hours but is a beautiful downwinder and well worth it. Just be prepared to land in crazy gusty winds.
If you choose to drive up the coast to kite from Jeri, the next spot would be Tatajuba. It takes about 30-40 minutes to get there including a small ferry ride (Borsa) and about 10 minutes longer to get back (driving into 25+ knot winds). Make sure you don’t pay over $10R for a two way trip on the Borsa, they will try to charge tourists more. We only got to ride here on lower tides (didn’t want to get caught going back) but hear high tide brings the best conditions. There is an ocean lagoon which forms inside of a large sandbar that will give you flat water or nice waves on the outside. I think they’re only one or two pousadas there but am not sure.One word of caution, if you plan on taking a car to Tatajuba, make sure your sand driving skills are honed. Some places (like immediately after the ferry) can be pretty tricky to drive in.
Additional Info for Kiteboarding Brazil:
Crowds varied by month and location. Simply, the farther you are from November, the smaller the crowds. Similarly, the father you are from the airport, the smaller the crowds.Popular places such as Cumbuco, Cauipe and Taiba lagoons, and Paracuru can become very crowded. This is great encouragement to explore different spots where you and your kite buddies may be the only people for miles. Remember, this isn’t Cabarete or Kite Beach, it’s 400+ kilometers of windy beach waiting to be kited.
No, you don’t speak Spanish here, you speak Portuguese. Take some time to learn basic phrases and words before going to Brazil. Youtube is a great source for getting you pronunciation down as a lot of the time, how you read the word is very different from how it sounds.
Car Rental is cheap, but there are also the options of 4x4's and beach buggys - depending on how much beach driving you want to do, you might want to consider one of the latter options.
A word of warning - car rental companies have been known to charge you credit card after the rental has finished you may no longer even be in the country - check you banking statements and be ready to cancel the card if necessary.
The map gives a perspective of distances,with Fortaleza to the south and Paracuru in the north. This strip of coast is the location of some very fine spots for kiteboarding Brazil. The small town of Cumbuco is situated almost exactly half-way between Fortaleza and Paracuru.
Prea another notable kiteboarding spot in Brazil is about 350 km Northwest of Fortaleza.
~Special thanks to Dan Druet for his writings about his trip kiteboarding Brazil ~
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