Peru is one of the most magnificent surfing destinations on the West Coast of South America, a continent with a magical surfing culture. The country is home to some of the world’s longest wave rides, including the great Chicama. Is it possible to surf the same wave for more than two minutes? Yes, it is! So long as you’re in Peru!
Besides the kilometres long left hander point breaks, there are any number of world class waves spread out along this coast, from beach breaks to spots for big wave surfers. There is no lack of variety!
General consensus is that surfing originated in Hawaii, but the Peruvians say that they were the first to ride waves, and point to the totoras, also known as caballitos del mar, as proof. These ancient boats allowed their ancestors to glide down the waves which bathed the coast.
All these traditions have made Peru one of the greatest surfing cultures in the World. The local population is quite friendly, connected to the sea and to nature, which they protect tirelessly. So it is only natural that the small and historic town of Huanchaco should have become the first World Surfing Reserve in Latin America.
Peru is located in a tropical latitude, close to the equator, which makes the weather very diverse from region to region. The coast has milder and more humid weather, with little rain. In the mountains it rains frequently in the summer and, in the Andes, freezes over in the winter. The Amazon, on the other hand, is tropical and is marked by rain and high temperatures.
Peru’s geography makes it one of the most consistent countries in the world in terms of surfing. Located just below the Equator, the Wester coast of Peru is perfectly positioned to receive swell from the south Pacific but also from the west and northwest giving it high consistency all year round. It is difficult to find a flat day in the spring, autumn or winter and the period in these seasons is usually around 20 seconds. Only the summer months, which in the Southern hemisphere means December to March does this consistency diminish a little.
Located in the La Libertad region, in the North of Peru, Chicama is a mystical spot, worthy of mention in the Guinness book of records. The main spot is a long left hander near the local port, which can get up to two kilometres long, from the peak to the inside. This region is also blessed with little crowd and offshore winds. But there is no shortage of other waves in the vicinity, especially equally long left handers. Chicama is also close to Huanchico, the first World Surfing Reserve in Latin America.
In the summer months you can surf in a short suit, but for the rest of the year we recommend a 3/2. It is essential to take extra gear, in case of accidents. An extra leash, fins, chords and regular water wax as well as a lot of sunscreen, since you will be very close to the equator. A longboard is a good option for your quiver, and the braver travellers can take their “guns”, but a basic quiver should suffice to enjoy the local offer. Make sure to take mosquito repellent.
Where to stay?
Resorts, Guest Houses and Surf Camps There are plenty of options in terms of seaside accommodation. You can stay in a resort with all the comfort and luxury and still be close to the coast and the main spots. The guest houses are another, cheaper, option, although you’ll feel the difference in terms of quality. Then there are the surf camps which get you closer to the best spots and allow for more flexibility.
Vaccines, Passport and Visa
Portuguese citizens do not require a visa to enter Peru provided it is for a short stay – up to 90 days in a period of 180. All you need is a passport.
You are advised to get vaccinations against hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus and polio. If you go further inland, especially to the Amazon jungle, get a yellow fever shot and take medication for Malaria prevention.
Given the amount of mosquitos there is a risk of catching dengue. The best prevention, although not 100% effective, is to use repellent, long sleeves, trousers, hat, socks, closed shoes and, if possible, to sleep under a mosquito net. You are not advised to drink tap water or uninfected vegetables or fruit.