San Clemente, California, is an undoubtedly iconic surf town.

Home to waves like T-Street and Trestles, San Clemente was listed as one of the nation’s 10 best surf towns by SURFER in 2009 and has produced a slew of top surfing talents like Kolohe Andino and the Gudauskas brothers.

It is also home to a growing Brazilian population which, if you listen to those living in San Clemente, might be a direct result of the town’s waves.

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“The Brazilian population in town has definitely increased since I moved here in 2008, and it feels awesome to see the new generation of Brazilians around here,” Brazilian former pro surfer Neco Padaratz, told GrindTV. “It feels like ‘home away from home’ to me.”

(Padaratz (third from left) seen after surfing in San Clemente with fellow Brazilian pros Filipe Toledo (third from right) and Matheus Navarro (far right))

The 39-year-old Padaratz is in a unique position to comment on how surfing has helped bring more Brazilians to San Clemente.

Described in 2000 by SURFER as “the first legitimate world title contender from Brazil,” Padaratz had a long professional surfing career that served as an inspiration for many of the current crop of young Brazilian surfers.

He moved to San Clemente full-time in 2008 to be closer to his wife, setting up shop in town before fellow Brazilian pros Adriano de Souza, Filipe Toledo and Yago Dora made the pilgrimage.

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Now, he’s forged a career in town as a surf coach, and acts as a welcoming party of sorts for the Brazilian ex-pats who have come to call San Clemente home.

“I’m good friends with all the boys. It’s always nice to see them around on my daily routine when they are not gone competing,” Padaratz said of the influx of fellow Brazilian pros in town.

Padaratz thinks there are a number of reasons why San Clemente has been so attractive to Brazilians looking to move to the United States.

While the world-class waves are the most obvious driver, he says the town has a friendly charm which easily relates to the Brazilian lifestyle.

San Clemente // LOMO #sanclemente

A photo posted by Filipe Toledo (@filipetoledo) on

“San Clemente is a very welcoming little town, people are very friendly and family-oriented around here, that’s what I like the most,” Padaratz told GrindTV. “Brazilians are very passionate by nature — our hospitality is one of our big qualities — so I believe that is one reason we’ve had such a connection with the town.”

“And, of course, the waves,” Padaratz continued. “It doesn’t get any better than having Trestles in your backyard. I feel like Brazilians choose the places to live in the United States that we think fit our lifestyle. I have two kids, both are surfers and they both love San Clemente.”

Padaratz says he enjoys seeing more Brazilians join him in San Clemente, and jokes that if more of his countrymen move to town he might have to quit his job as a surf coach.

“There are no Brazilian restaurants here yet, which is a bummer, so maybe I’ll open one soon,” Padaratz said. “We are good people, with good hearts, and when you live away from your country and your culture, it’s always nice to be surrounded by your people — it feels like home.”

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