Peru - Surf Destination
My bro always dreamed of going to Peru, he is a goofy-footer and he mainly surfs rights in California. I myself love rights but once I ventured down to Peru my vision of going left changed and once I left that country I had a new fondness for the going backside.
If you are going to Peru on a surf trip I'd recommend taking a few days to head into the mountains to visit Macchu Picchu—now look I am a lover of the ocean, but I highly recommend that you take some time and visit this magical place.
Machu Picchu is one of those places but you'll never forget, you'll be transported to a different time, and the feelings that you'll have while walking to the ruins we'll remind you of the history of humanity.
Peru has mainly three surfing areas, the points in beaches to the south, the waves around Trujillo (this includes Chicama, sump report to be the longest left in the world, which I would agree with), and the third area is to the far north and include the beaches of Mancora.
I personally like the beaches around Trujillo, which offer a nice selection of beach break and point break. Trujillo is a short flight from Lima, that you should book as part of your original trip. Once you get to Trujillo, you need to take a taxi to Huanchaco—a town full of plenty of great places to eat and inexpensive accommodation right in front of the surf break.
There are several breaks to the north including Chicama and Pacasmayo, which serve up excellent waves and plenty of cultural distractions.
The jewel of Peru is Chicama and any surf trip to Peru should be focused on this excellent wave.
We got very lucky on our trip because a major south swell slammed into the Peruvian coast and Chicama lit up like a Catholic Easter service and a Latin country. See the picture below.
Surfing is a very popular activity in Peru especially after the emergence of the Peruvian Surf Champions. It has produced world wide champions such as Sofía Mulánovich, 2004 female world champion, Luis Miguel "Magoo" De La Rosa ISA World Masters Surfing Championship 2007 leader, and Cristobal de Col, 2011 World Junior Champion.
Best Time to Visit Peru
All south and south West spots have very reliable swell from April to October. And from October to march north swell hit the coast. This means that during the south swell season you'll be surfing around Lima or Trujillo and during the north window you'll want to head to the northern region.
During spring and fall, short sleeves are fine, although long sleeves will work for the early or late sessions. During winter time a 3/2mm rubber is OK. Booties are a great help to keep feet warm and protect them from rocks and shelves.
Water temperature is not as cold as northern California but cold enough. From Trujillo down you'll want a 3/2 and if you get up north to Lobitos or Mancora you can shed the suit and surf in your shorties.
Surfing In Peru
Going north or south? There're tons of waves around Lima, but I wouldn't hang too long in that city, it's kind of a shit hole. No offense to any Peruvians that might be reading this, because you have so many beautiful places in that country, but Lima isn't one of them. If you do get stuck in Lima, There are some waves in the city, but the water is nasty and the crowds are horrific.
Now once you get out of the city and drive to the south you'll find yourself in an entirely different situation with tons of surf along beautiful shoreline scattered amongst the small villages of the countryside. My advice it to get the fuck out of Lima as quick as possible.
You should always be prepared to charge large waves if you are going south of Lima, but if you do not surf this size, still there are many breaks with fun waves. South of Lima is a perfect party place during summer and weekends are really busy.
If you wake up early, you can go surf while everyone is going back home after the nightlong party.
Your main decision when visiting Peru, is to either go north or south. Well actually, the decision is to either go south to the southern part of the north section or to the extreme North.
If you've read this article you know that I favor the beaches around Trujillo, but if you decide that you want a different kind of trip (and one not including Peru’s best wave) then you can decide to go South of Lima or to the beaches around Lobitos.
Side Trip To Machu Picchu
If I were you, I would try and plan my trip for a 3 to 4 week window and leave a few days to fly back to Lima and up to Cusco which will put you at the doorsteps of Machu Picchu. It'll cost you a couple hundred dollars to get to Cusco from anywhere in the country by plane.
Once you're in Cusco, Machu Picchu his a few hours away. You could do the whole trip in a few days and get back to the coast if you see a swell coming.
For a complete breakdown of the specific waves in Peru:
North of Peru is one of the best places on earth to surf, many of locals from Lima have moved to the North for this purpose. In the North there are plenty of warm water waves, excellent seafood and not as many crowds as around the big cities. However, there are few beaches were crowd can be extreme like Cabo Blanco, and Máncora.
If you avoid the high seasons, you will be surfing great waves with only a hand-full of surfers.
If you happen to be surfing during a very well publicized swell during the height of the surf season then you will have lots of company including gangs of Brazilians—not something you ant to see when you and your bro are surfing solo on that middle peak at Pacasmaya.
Chicama has good waves whenever a big south shows up. Some people swear that the extreme north of Peru is pure magic, but I love the waves around Trujillo.
Peru enjoys a privileged location in the heart of South America, turning International Airport Jorge Chavez in Lima into an international hub for tourism and several airlines that reach many destinations in South America.
There are several domestic flights connecting the local destinations.
There are direct and stop-over flights to Lima from the main capitals of the world. From LAX I'd get a direct flight to Lima and connect to Trujillo, not even stepping foot in Lima. When you decide to visit Cusco you can book your flight online when the swell drops, no need to lock everything in before your trip—leave some flexibility for swell conditions. The entry points by land are:
- From Ecuador: Aguas Verdes (Tumbes) via the Pan-Americana Highway and La Tina (Piura) from the city of Loja (Ecuador).
- From Bolivia: There are two crossings, Desaguadero and Kasani, for travelers coming from La Paz and Copacabana respectively.
- From Chile: Paso the Santa Rosa (Santa Rosa Pass) (Tacna) via the Panamericana Highway.
Peru has accommodations to suit every budget, especially in tourist hubs and cities. There are several hostels at affordable price and on shared basis.
But when it comes to surfing, you would always want to stay in close proximity to beach that offers good waves and are less crowded and in such cases it is best suited to go look for surf camps who will better understand your surf needs.