Is your New Years resolution to visit new spots for freestyle windsurfing? Well, we’ve got you covered! In a new series we will be releasing a spot guide written by a pro freestyler every month. First up, George Grisley will take us around Jericoacoara and it’s surroundings. A spot that is on the Freestyle Pro Tour calendar for the first time this year! In this article you will learn about getting there, the spots, accommodation, food and the nightlife. Before reading on though, make sure to check out George’s sick action from this years trip to Jeri:
A Quick Overview
Jericoacoara! A safe haven for windsurfers looking to escape the increasingly cooling temperatures of Europe. Located just below the equator on the north-east coast of Brazil, Jeri is a tropical paradise for anyone looking to improve their freestyle in small but fun starboard tack waves.
To get to Jeri from Europe there are two main routes people tend to take. The first is to take a flight from mainland Europe to Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo and then a flight back the way you just came up to Fortaleza. This route typically can be slightly cheaper but usually a lot longer (around 18hrs flying time). The alternative route is to fly from Lisbon and from there fly direct to Fortaleza. This is much more straightforward; however, board bags are very expensive with TAP (Air Portugal). There is an airport just outside Jericoacoara, itself, but flights into this airport tend to be extortionate and the baggage fees very high. Once you get to Fortaleza it is then a 4.5 hr 4×4 transfer to get to Jericoacoara. The road journey is quite straightforward until you get about 40 minutes away from Jeri when you leave the tarmac road and the rest of the journey involves driving along the beach and through the sand dunes to get to town, you get a real sense of “going off the beaten track” and you then understand why it is necessary to hire the 4×4 transfers! Despite Jeri being quite developed, it has a unique charm about it due, I believe to the fact that it is not easily accessible.
Check out Sarah-Quita Offringa’s 2021 training in Jeri
In Jeri, your sailing day is very dependent on the tides. Different tidal states provide a variety of conditions throughout the day. Low tide is the “so-called” best time of the day for windsurfing due to the fact that the water is further away from the headland, which in turn creates less of a wind shadow. The waves however at this state of tide are slightly smaller, making it perfect for all levels from intermediates to advanced freestylers looking to hit some super fun stunt ramps. As the tide gets higher the waves normally grow slightly and combined with a good swell there are some fun little wave rides to be had. However, as high tide approaches the wind shadow increases making it very light on the inside. This is the time to swap the windsurf board for a longboard and enjoy some surfing. The wave is just perfect for longboarding. It’s a soft, zero consequence wave and is perfect for learning to surf, work on your nose riding or even foil surfing. There is nothing better than a sunset surf in Jeri.
Now you must be thinking what about the wind? Well, there is wind from the right EVERYDAY. Like any windsurf spot it has its good days and bad days, but the wind ranges from 16 knots to 35 knots from 9 o’clock in the morning until past sunset most days. The beauty of Jeri though, is even though it is windy all day, the headland provides shelter for the town, so don’t worry about being sand blasted all day long. You can go from a 30-knot full power session to drinking a coconut and eating an acai bowl on a sunbed within a matter of metres and be out of the wind.
Now as windsurfers we travel to these exotic locations in the search of great conditions, to find the perfect windsurf spot. However, I also get super excited to get to a place that has a great friendly and fun vibe whilst living there and feeling part of the community, to me that’s what makes this a fantastic spot to spend some time. The town has everything for everyone. Whether you are looking for a fancy hotel or a basic hostel, there are places for everyone and for every budget. A good tip would be to get accommodation as close to the beach as possible. Now that might seem obvious, however most places to stay are further towards the outskirts (inland). It may seem like a short distance on the map, however in 30+ degrees and with all the streets sand, that walk can be pretty painful! I would recommend being as close to the main square as possible.
In terms of food, again Jeri has it all. Whether you are looking for traditional Brazilian, Pizza, Sushi, Meat, Seafood or Vegetarian, Jeri can provide.
The supermarket has also been upgraded in the last 2 years so if you’re looking to save money cooking in is a great and easy option. We loved going to the street food carts on San Francisco Street where you can get an epic dinner for about €3.
My favourite and probably most important part of Jeri is the vibe. The people are all really friendly and welcoming. I must warn you that there is not a lot of English spoken, so I would recommend brushing up on some Portuguese, but like most places it’s easy to make yourself understood, as long as you can order a beer (Bohemia is probably the best) you will have a great time!! There is also an amazing night life in Jeri. The main party place “Café Jeri” was closed when we were there but a new bar called Nox opened to help fill the gap. Nox was open until midnight you could then go onto enjoy the bar “Serafin” for either the Samba, Forro or Reggae night! If you still wanted to carry on partying after that there are normally big bonfire parties on the beach until the early hours of the morning.
What is cool about Jeri is that although you have a world-class spot right on your doorstep there are other equally amazing spots close by. Often if I find the main break is too busy, I will just sail downwind to Sunset Dune where no one else sails. The Dune is a great freestyle spot with a big period swell because it provides areas of lovely flat water leading into a perfect little stunt ramp. It is also a great high tide option as it’s beyond the wind shadow of the town.
My favourite spot, and probably the best place I’ve ever windsurfed, is in Laguna Grande just outside of Tatajuba. The lagoon provides the flattest water and winds that are always at least 5 knots more than Jeri. The lagoon is waist to chest deep everywhere and blows consistently offshore. The incredible flat-water conditions and consistent high winds make this place perfect for practising new freestyle moves. We enjoyed a few epic sessions and were fortunate enough to get some tips from the freestyle queens Oda-Johanna and Sarah Quita who were using the lagoon as a training ground for the PWA event in France. The journey to the lagoon is an experience and adventure in itself. You can rent an off-roading buggy which costs 400 Reis (60 Euros) including the driver. The first 20 mins of the journey is all along the beach until you come to a “ferry crossing” which is basically some local guys with some pretty sketchy looking rafts and bamboo outboard motors. It only takes a couple of minutes but it’s quite an experience… From there you do another 5 minutes on the beach until you cut into the dunes and come to the lagoon in the middle of nowhere. I would really recommend bringing lots of sun cream and plenty of water as you are literally left there in the middle of the dunes with no shade until the buggy driver picks you up just before sunset.
If you keep going past Tatajuba you will eventually come across Camocim. This spot is super famous, and you’ve probably seen it in all the videos coming out of Jeri from 10 years ago. Camocim is also a world class spot, however the conditions there are pretty similar to Laguna Grande so in my opinion it’s not worth the extra two-hour drive to get there, unless you are wanting to go to Maceio.
Maceio is only 20 mins past Camocim. The spot has very similar conditions to Jeri in terms of starboard tack stunt ramps, however it is way quieter and also has a bigger sailing area. I would actually really recommend going because I would say the conditions are almost better than Jeri. The only reason I wouldn’t stay there is because there is not really much going on there. There are only a few restaurants and not many places to stay, but for a long weekend trip out of Jeri it is well worth the effort to get down there.
Jeri seems to be the perfect winter training place for any freestyle windsurfer. Thank you to George for taking us along, and we hope to see many of you there during the AFPT Brasil in October!