Peru is home to some of the best waves in the world, from 40-foot (12-meter) giants to reeling warm-water barrels. The country doesn’t get the hype that other surfing magnets do, but that’s for the best: you’ll find world-class waves without the heavy lineups. Here’s why Peru is secretly the best place for surfers.
While Hawaiians and Polynesians may claim the origins of surfing, Peruvians know better. Along the coast of Peru, around the beach town of Huanchaco, pre-Incan societies have been surfing to find their catch-of-the-day for thousands of years.
If you want big waves, look no further. The south of Peru is home to a stretch of coastline called Punta Hermosa, where surfers can find the monster break Pico Alto. It is one of the largest waves in South America and hosts professional big-wave competitions.
Most of Peru’s coastline is cold – really cold. You’ll want at least a 3/2 wetsuit, especially in the south. But on the northern tip of Peru, near Ecuador, it’s different. Here you’ll find some of the country’s warmest waters, making surfing just that little bit more enjoyable.
Peru isn’t just home to monster, I-hope-I-don’t-drown waves. There are plenty of places where beginners can learn. Beaches such as Huanchaco and Mancora offer easy-to-stand-up waves perfect for someone just starting out.
The Peruvian coastline is covered in ancient ruins, some of which predate the Incas. If you’re staying in Huanchaco, which has a great beach for surfers, it’ll take just five minutes to drive to the ancient ruins of Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the world. Surf in the morning and, come the afternoon, take in a little culture.
Peru is home to Chicama, which is believed to be the longest left-hand break in the world. The wave is made up of many different sections and, in all, is approximately 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long, with the longest ride being about 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers).
From reef breaks to rocks to sandbars, Peru offers a little bit of everything, and these different bottoms make for a fantastic diversity of waves throughout the country.
On the coast of Peru, food is just about the only thing that can rival the excellence of its surfing. The country’s waters are some of the most biodiverse and abundant in the world, making for plenty of mouthwatering culinary options, the best of all being Peru’s world-famous ceviche.
One of the most convenient things about surfing in Peru is that you don’t even need to bring your board. Every decent surf spot will have a place to rent from, with boards in all different shapes and sizes. You’ll be surprised by the vast, high-quality selection.
Goofy-footers, welcome to paradise. Peru has a huge number of left-hand breaks just waiting for you to try. Regular footers, there are a few right-hand breaks too. But why not take this as an opportunity to finally practise your backhand?
Peru doesn’t have California crowds and it isn’t destroyed by surfing tourism. While good breaks will attract a fair few people, it’ll be nothing like some of the other popular surf spots you’ve visited before.
Peru has a lot more to offer than just surfing. You can spend weeks exploring the jungle, hiking to ancient Inca ruins, or visiting some of the largest canyons in the world.
How many places are there in the world where you can enjoy world-class waves and live in a big city? Lima hugs the Pacific Ocean and is home to one of Peru’s best waves, La Herradura. Surf all day, then enjoy the endless entertainment the country’s capital has to offer by night.
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