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Surfing in Peru: Your Guide to the Best Waves

by Octavia Drughi

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Two words: mythical and diverse. Although it would take much more to describe the fascinating realm we call Peru, these two definitely do justice to its tumultuous history, culture, geography, food, and surfing scene.

Thanks to its wide Pacific swell window, the waves are pumping all year round and the wind is constantly offshore. Peru is a goofy footer’s paradise – this is the land of the left-hand point break. It is also one of the most affordable surfing destinations in the world. 

Although it’s widely believed that Polynesians were the first to ever surf, new evidence suggests that Peru might be the birthplace of surfing. Over 2,500 years ago, local fishermen rode the waves on reed boats. Today, there are numerous surf camps in Peru that follow in the footsteps of their ancestors, offering lessons and guidance to all those who wish to explore the Peruvian coastline with a surfboard under their arm. 

And did you know that Peru is the proud home of Chicama – the longest wave on the planet?

Despite all these assets, the country remains one of the most underrated surfing destinations in the world. Well, perhaps there is some good in that. Only certain patches of its coastline have been explored thus far, and there are still many waves that remain untouched. 

Where and when to go surfing in Peru


The country’s coastline counts 1,500 miles (2,414 km), and surfing in Peru is divided into two main regions:

  • Surfing on the North Coast of Peru – The stretch of coastline between the Piura region in northwestern Peru and the Ancash region north of Lima is home to the most popular surf spots in the country.
  • Surfing on the South Coast of Peru – The narrow strip of desert between Lima and the border with Chile has cold water all year round, but still slightly warmer than Northern California. A 3/2mm wetsuit should suffice.

Wearing booties is highly recommended, to keep your feet warm and to protect you from the rocks and sea urchins that are abundant in Peru’s waters.

There are two distinct surfing seasons in Peru:

  • The north swell season, between October and April, coincides with Peru’s summer and is characterized by warmer water.
  • The south swell season, between April and October, coincides with Peru’s winter and is characterized by colder water temps.

From north to south, let’s have a close look at the best surf spots in Peru.


Surfing in Northern Peru


Photo credit:  a l o b o s

Peru’s North Coast is dotted with high-quality points and reefs, the days are sunny almost all year, and the water is warmer than on the South Coast. The best surfing conditions can be found during the Southern Hemisphere summer, between October and April, with a northern swell. Occasionally, southerly swells can bring in good conditions too. Expect the biggest waves between January and March.

Water temperature fluctuates between 17-27°C (63-80°F). During summer, on the northernmost coast, a short-sleeve spring suit is fine during the day, but a long-sleeve is recommended for early morning or late afternoon sessions. On some days, you can even get away with surfing in just your swimsuit. The farther south you go, the colder the water becomes and a 3/2mm wetsuit becomes essential.



Recommended for: All levels


Photo credit: Laguna Surf Camp

One of the most popular surf towns in Peru, Máncora is renowned for its bustling nightlife, great weather, and consistent surf. At the main beach in front of town, you’ll find a left reef break that offers long and mellow rides, a favorite among local longboarders.

The entry is relatively easy. The waves break slowly and do not exceed 10ft (3 meters), which makes Máncora a good place for beginners and surf schools. Its growing popularity also means that the beaches get crowded, especially during weekends.

Máncora works all year round, with all swells. However, the best surf is brought on by northerly swells, between October and April. The water is warm during summer, between 22 to 27°C (72 to 80°F), but you’ll still need a shorty in the morning and afternoon.

Note that Máncora can only be surfed at high tide due to the reefs on the bottom.

South of the main break at Máncora, you’ll find a less-crowded reef break, Punta Ballenas, recommended for more advanced surfers. It works with a south swell, between April and December, when it throws short, fast, hollow, and aggressive lefts.



Recommended for: Beginners and intermediate surfers


Photo credit: Surf Racer House Peru

A 15-minute drive south of Máncora, in front of the quiet beach town of Los Organos. It works with all swells and is ideal for beginner surfers in winter. During summer, the waves get bigger and are excellent for intermediates. You will find plenty of surf camps in Los Organos here all year round.

South of Organitos, Los Organos reef break produces one of the best waves in Peru, powerful and with multiple tubing sections. It works with a northern swell and is recommended for intermediate to advanced surfers.


Cabo Blanco

Recommended for: Advanced surfers


Photo credit: My Surf Camp Peru

When big northerly swells kick in, the small fishing town of Cabo Blanco lights up with surfers from far and wide, hoping for a shot at one of Peru’s most epic barrels. Expect to see some of the world’s best surfers in the line-up when it starts to fire.

Dubbed ‘Peru’s Pipeline,’ this strong left reef break sends long and fast tubes over a shallow reef. It is tricky and dangerous, and absolutely not for beginners. Cabo Blanco only breaks between November and March, and is rather inconsistent. This is why, when it does work, it is packed with pro surfers and the atmosphere can get tense.


Panic Point

Recommended for: Advanced surfers

Just south of Cabo Blanco, Panic Point has a very suggestive name for the gnarly waves that it offers. The strong and punchy left point break throws some fast tubes and can hold up to 13ft (4 meters). It can handle more size than Cabo Blanco, and some even say that it’s the best wave in South America. When it’s firing, you will find the best surfers in Lima here.

Panic Point works best with a south swell, between April and October, with a mid to high tide.



Recommended for: All levels


Lobitos is a low-key surf town that is less crowded than the other surf spots on the North Coast, home to several breaks that produce chest-to-head-high waves:

The northernmost break at Lobitos, Piscinas is a little left point break with a sand and rocky bottom. It works all year round, the waves are fun and slow, and all levels of surfers can take on this one.

The main break at Lobitos is a perfectly peeling left reef that can hold 10ft (3 meters) or more with a northerly swell. Lobitos is recommended for intermediate to advanced surfers. It is very consistent and not too crowded, working all year round with all swell directions.

Just south of the main break, El Hueco throws some heavy barrels. Unfortunately, it is less consistent, working only with a southern swell. Due to the exposed rocks and the speed required to finish the ride safely, this one is for advanced surfers only.


Photo credit: My Surf Camp Peru

The southernmost break, Baterias, is more exposed and works well when Lobitos is small, but only with a southern swell. This left point break is for experienced surfers only.



Recommended for: Advanced surfers

The northernmost of the left point breaks in La Libertad, Pacasmayo is a swell magnet and home to the second longest wave in Peru, with rides timed at 4 minutes. It can hold waves up to 13ft (4 meters) that go on for as long as 1.5 miles (2.5km). Although located in the proximity of a small beach town that almost seems abandoned, this break can get crowded. It works best with southerly swells and an incoming tide.


Playa Chicama

Recommended for: Advanced surfers


Photo credit: Geraint Rowland via Flickr

About 20 miles (33km) north of Trujillo, outside the sleepy fishing village of Puerto Malabrigo, the coast is exposed to the full force of the cold Humboldt Current traveling north from Antarctica and is one of the driest places on the planet. The current is responsible for the arid, desert-like landscape you see all along Peru’s coastline. It is also home to the crown jewel of surfing in Peru, Chicama, which is nothing short of a natural miracle.

The distance between the farthest take-off point and the jetty is 2.5 miles (4km). It is the longest wave in the world and quite possibly the least crowded world-class break too. It is worth mentioning, though, that the wave consists of four different point breaks, and they only connect with a big south swell. But, even when they don’t all connect, you’ll still be in for one heck of a long ride.


Photo credit: Safari Surf Adventures

Chicama is more consistent between April and October, and it can also break in December and January with a northern swell. The water is cold, the landscape is arid, and the extensive line-up is often covered in fog, which only makes the experience even more mystifying. A 3/2mm wetsuit is required, as the water temperature stays around 60-68°F (15-20°C)



Recommended for: All levels


Just outside of Trujillo, the historical beach town of Huanchaco is probably home to the oldest surf community on earth and, to this day, you can still see local fishermen riding the waves on their Caballito de Totora reed boats, just like they have for over 2,500 years. These vessels are the earliest known surf crafts.


Photo credit: Safari Surf Adventures

In 2013, Huanchaco became the 5th World Surfing Reserve, an on-going program launched by the Save The Waves Coalition. Surfers of all levels can tackle this friendly left-hand point break with a sandy bottom, and there are surf schools, shops, and rentals available. Huanchaco works all year, but is more consistent with a south swell, between April and October.  


Surfing on the South Coast of Peru


Lima is home to one-third of Peru’s population. It is crowded, noisy, chaotic, and polluted, which is why many surfers prefer the beaches near the coastal town of Punta Hermosa, about an hour’s drive south.

Lima alone is home to several dozen surf spots. Near Punta Hermosa, there is a great variety of consistent waves clustered together, beach breaks and point breaks for every level, all within walking distance from one another.

The best conditions for surfing on the South Coast of Peru can be found between April and October, during winter. Summer can also bring in good swells, but usually not as big and, therefore, more suitable for novice and intermediate surfers. The water is cold, between 57-68ºF (14-20ºC), and there’ll be no going out without a 3/2mm wetsuit on.

South of Punta Hermosa is where the surf spots really start to be deserted. Peru’s southernmost coast is hit by consistent big waves, it never rains (literally never!), there are hardly any seaside resorts, and crowds are never an issue.

Let’s have a look at the best surf spots near Lima and Punta Hermosa, and even farther south!


Playa Waikiki

Recommended for: Beginners and intermediate surfers


If surfing in Lima is on your agenda, head to the Miraflores district, where Playa Waikiki is one of the best places in Peru to learn to surf. The beach is lined with surf schools, shops, and rentals, and the beach break produces soft rolling rights and lefts that are excellent for novice surfers and those looking to improve.

In the 1940s, this is where a group of local surfers started the Waikiki Club, one of the first surf clubs in the world. Being so easy to get to, Playa Waikiki is often crowded.


La Herradura

Recommended for: Advanced surfers


Photo credit: Marco Silva Navarrete

To the south of the city, in the Chorrillos district, La Herradura is considered the best wave in Lima. It consists of three sections, and when they connect, they offer long rides of up to 1,500ft (500 meters). It is strong, fast, and steep. With a south swell, expect waves between 6 and 13ft (2 to 4 meters), which work best with a low to mid tide. La Herradura often gets crowded and localism can become an issue.



Recommended for: Intermediate and advanced surfers


Right-handers are a rare sight in Peru, and Caballeros is the best right-hander in the Punta Hermosa area. It works well with a southern swell, and can get big, holding up to 20ft (6 meters). It can be surfed with smaller swells too, and that’s when intermediate surfers will get a kick out of riding this point break.


Pico Alto

Recommended for: Big wave surfers

One of the biggest waves in South America can be found nearly half a mile (700 meters) off Punta Hermosa. Pico Alto is a hollow, fast, powerful, and goddamn scary reef break that lures big wave surfers from far and wide. Unfortunately, it is inconsistent and only works with really big swells, regardless of the swell directions. When it does work, it holds up to 13 to 40ft (4 to 12 meters).

Pico Alto can be accessed from Playa Norte in Punta Hermosa, which is also home to a right-hand beach break, or from Señoritas, a reef break across from Caballeros. There is, of course, the option of being towed in, but most surfers prefer to take on the challenge of paddling to the line-up.


Punta Rocas

Recommended for: All levels


Photo credit: Bravo Surf Camp

South of Punta Hermosa, Punta Rocas is the most consistent right point break in the area. A swell magnet like no other in Peru, and one of the most crowded spots on the South Coast. First-timers will find a few safe spots to practice, and those who wish to progress will find unbreakable waves to build confidence. The waves are fun and powerful all year round, holding up to 13ft (4 meters).


San Bartolo

Recommended for: All levels


Photo credit: World Surf League

The picturesque seaside resort of San Bartolo is home to a consistent beach break that produces some fun and short waves, both lefts and rights. With a small swell, it is a good place to learn to surf, especially since the atmosphere is very friendly, without any of that localism found elsewhere in Peru. You should be wary of the boulders on the bottom, though.


Cerro Azul

Recommended for: All levels

A two-hour drive south of Lima, in the Cañete province, Cerro Azul is an authentic Peruvian fishing village that is home to a long, fun, and punchy left point break. It is one of the most popular and most consistent breaks in southern Peru, working 90% of days a year.

Cerro Azul is a great destination for a day trip, and it is not too crowded. When it’s not too big, the easy paddle out makes it suitable for beginners and progressing surfers. The break works best with a south swell at low and mid tide, but you’ll find good conditions with a northerly swell too during summer, when it doesn’t get too big. 


*Cover photo credit: Geraint Rowland

Discover a fascinating culture, explore uncrowded beaches, and ride some of the best waves on the planet! Go on a surf camp in Peru, one of the most underrated surfing destinations on the planet, before crowds beat you to it.

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