Peru’s Top Breaks and Surfing Destinations

Peru may well be the birthplace of surfing – and its long coastline offers waves for adventure lovers of every level.

Peru’s surf culture goes back centuries. Before the Polynesians were surfing alias in Hawaii, ancient artifacts show indigenous Peruvians riding waves in Huanchaco. Today, Peru draws wave worshippers from around the world to its 1,500mi (2,414km) coastline, and there are waves for all levels along the shores.

The best swells hit October to March, and except for up north, it’s wetsuit water. Here are some of the top surfing spots in Peru.

Surfing the Central-North Coast of Peru

Chicama (also know as Puerto Malabrigo) is home to the the longest rideable left-hander in the world. If it’s connecting, you can literally surf this cold-water break for more than a mile. With little else to do here, there’s hardly a non-surfer in sight.

Just south is Huanchaco, Peru’s birthplace of surfing. Two thousand year-old clay pottery depicts Peruvian fishermen riding their reed boats on Huanchaco’s waves – you can still see some in action in the water.

Walk the pier, then stop for seafood at Mococho before heading to the incredible ruins of Chan Chan and Huaca de la Luna nearby.

Huanchaco, the birthplace of surfing in Peru. Photo credit: iStock

Surfing Peru’s North Coast

The north coast’s resident surf and party town, Mancora, is often likened to Tamarindo in Costa Rica. With easy waves, warm water and an endless nightlife, it’s easy to see why many travelers get stuck here.

Forty-five minutes north is the laid-back Zorritos, a surf-lover’s paradise with natural hot springs and medicinal mud baths to boot. Eat unpretentious fresh seafood with an ocean view at La Tia Gladyso and stay at Casa Kresala, a cool surf hostel right on the beach. If you’re new to the waves, lessons with Coco Beach surf school are a must.

South of Mancora are the real waves. Los Organos hosts endless lefts; El Ñuro too. Cabo Blanco, a fishing town famed for Hemingway’s visits, is home to Peruvian Pipeline – a powerful left-hand reef break whose barrels are likened to Hawaii’s famous wave.

Then comes Lobitos, possibly the best surf spot in Peru. It’s combo of offshore winds, few crowds and multiple peaks means there are almost always waves to be had, from heavy barrels at el Hueco and the Point to perfect lefts at Mueller, Piscinas, and Baterias.

Stay at the well-loved Wayra, or try a volunteerism homestay at WAVES, the local NGO empowering youth, promoting environmental health and sustainability, and supporting micro-enterprises.

Surfing Near Lima

Not to be left out is Peru’s lovable capital city. Beginners can rent boards at Playa Waikiki and paddle out at Punta Roquitas by the Miraflores Boardwalk or head La Herradura in Chorillos, a pumping left-hander that’s the pride of city dwellers.

Just south of Lima is Playa Hermosa, home to quality rights at Punta Rocas and the famed Pico Alto, an expert’s-only wave that’s one of the biggest in South America. When the swell is right you can watch big-wave riders get towed into 20ft (6m) monsters.

Surfing off Lima's coast. Photo credit: iStock

Want to know more about Peru? Check out our podcast. We chat about alternative treks to Machu Picchu, how Peru is the original home of surfing, and look at what vaccinations do you need when traveling to South America.

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