Surfing in Peru: Where to Go for the Best Waves and Beaches

With a long and dramatic coastline, Peru could easily be one of the best surfing destinations in the world. But despite having pristine surf spots and thousands of miles of Pacific coastline, Peru never seems to make it onto any top ten surfing lists.

Peru is better known for its ancient Inca ruins, highland mountains, and steaming, tropical jungles in the Amazon, than it is for its surfing.

The international surfing world has yet to catch up with Peru. But for anyone looking to get off the beaten track and find solitary beaches and quiet breaks, yet a lively local surf scene without the holidaymakers, then Peru should be your surfing destination of choice.

And once you’ve hit the waves, you can always head up to altitude for a trek to Machu Picchu or hang out in Lima to experience the best of contemporary Peruvian culture. Peru is a fantastic travel destination – and it’s the perfect place for surfing!

The Best Time of Year to Go Surfing in Peru

Located directly south of the equator, Peru should be an incredibly tropical country. However, the weather varies drastically across the diverse landscapes found within the nation.

The Amazon River is home to one of the largest and most biodiverse habitats in the world, with a steamy, hot, tropical climate and distinct wet and dry seasons that you would expect from this part of the world. However, the rest of the country has unique weather patterns that, in most cases, are hardly tropical at all.

The mountains and popular tourist destinations such as Machu Picchu are located at high altitude, lying thousands of metres above sea level, with cold, dry winters and humid, rainy summers. The coast is a different story entirely, and the Pacific region is one of the driest places on earth. Here you have a desert-like climate that offers cooler temperatures – and even cold temperatures in winter – and hot and sunny weather in summer, with very little rainfall throughout the year.

For surfing, summer brings warmer waters and lots of sunshine, and it’s the perfect time to be in the north of Peru, where you can enjoy the biggest swells and the best waves. Summer in Peru falls between November and April, and you’ll find the coast is relatively dry, as well as being super hot. Conditions are perfect for surfing, if you head to the coast around Lima and north of the capital.

For the southern coastline south of Lima, you’ll want to travel here for surfing in the winter, when the surf season is at its best. The southern coast gets its best waves in winter, between May and October, and hardcore surfers will move north or south with the seasons to seek out the best waves in Peru. In winter though, you can expect the coastline to be much cooler, although it’s also much drier. You’ll definitely need a wetsuit, because the Pacific waters in Peru are surprisingly cold, despite their location close to the equator.

machupichu

The Hazards and Dangers of Surfing in Peru

Peru isn’t the most popular surf destination in the world, but you will find that there is a fantastic local surf scene, even if it’s not well known internationally. Peruvians are enthusiastic and talented surfers, and you’ll find that you can easily find boards and clothing in the popular surf spots, as well as plenty of information about waves and weather conditions to keep you safe during your surfing trip.

The northern coast tends to be more set up for surfing, because this is where the warmer waters are found. It’s a good place to start if you’re a beginner or intermediate surfer, or if you just want a casual surfing trip, although you can find some of the biggest waves in the country here. In winter you will definitely need a wetsuit, but in summer you can just about get away with swimwear, depending on the weather.

The southern coast has large waves and is for more experienced surfers than the north. Many stretches of coastline where the best waves are found are completely deserted and certainly not setup for tourism. In these areas, you’ll need to be confident in your ability and be careful when you’re out there surfing, because there might not be anyone else around should something happen on the water.

sunset-huanchaco costa Peru Beach

Surfing Spots in the North of Peru

While the surf season in the north runs from November through to April, the best waves along this coast are found between January and March. This is when the north coast gets hit by big, surging swells that are the result of storms in the Northern Hemisphere that stir up the waters further south too.

Punta Hermosa

Arguably the most popular and well known surf spot in Peru, Punta Hermosa is the perfect place to go if it’s your first time in the South American country. Punta Hermosa is technically part of the capital zone, and this coastal area is found just a short one-hour drive outside of Lima. That makes it perfect for new arrivals, because you can jump off the plane and head straight to Punta Hermosa.

It’s especially popular in summer, when the waves are at their best and the sun is shining. And it’s not just popular with surfers either, because Punta Hermosa is where you can find some of the longest, sandiest beaches in the area, almost tailor-made for those looking to mix relaxation with adventure on a Peruvian holiday. On weekends, all of Lima seems to flock here to enjoy the beaches and sunny weather. You’ll find everything you need to surf here, and you can either travel on day trips from Lima or rent accommodation close to the main surfing spots.

Experience level: beginner upward

Malabrigo

Malabrigo is home to one of the most legendary waves in Peru. This small town in the northwest in La Libertad region is where you can find the longest wave in the world, a wave known as Chicama.

Peru is known for its huge left-handers, and Chicama is the biggest of them all. The waves are estimated to be up to four kilometres long, although no one has ever officially surfed that far.

Most surfers will hit The Point, which reaches for one kilometre as it breaks and is still a gnarly feat to accomplish!

Experience level: expert

Mancora

Located in the far north of Peru, Mancora was just a sleepy fishing village a few years back. And then the surfers began to arrive…

With beautiful sunny weather all year round and a huge variety of waves to hit up along the coast, Mancora is the perfect place for beginners who are just learning the ropes, as well as experts who are keen to hone their skills.

You can find rustic beachside accommodation, along with a vibrant nightlife and great social scene too.

Experience level: beginner to expert

Lobitos

Stay in the far north, past Lima and well beyond Trujillo, Lobitos is one of the best surfing destinations on the country’s north coast.

Known for its left-handers and for being an excellent spot for all levels of ability, this is surf heaven in the north.

The waves are exceptional, and you’ll find different breaks for a few kilometres along the coast outside of town.

Experience level: beginner to expert

Cabo Blanco

Cabo Blanco is home to one of the most legendary waves in Peru’s famed northwest. Nicknamed the ‘Peruvian Pipeline’, this is an intense barrel wave found off the coast that’s drawn in surfers since the 1970s.

Conquering the Peruvian Pipeline is a right of passage for serious surfers in Peru. While the village is tiny, in peak season the number of surfers visiting is immense.

Cabo Blanco is beautiful too, and has been featured in films and novels over the years, including as the shooting location for the Ernest Hemingway film The Old Man and the Sea, which was based on his award-winning novel of the same name.

It’s an iconic place to visit, but you need some skill and experience to tackle the Peruvian Pipeline and come out on the winning side, because this is a difficult wave to master. Once you’ve done it though, you’re well and truly in the Peruvian surfing scene!

Experience level: intermediate to expert

Surfing Spots in the South of Peru

Unexplored southern Peru is just waiting for surfers to head on down to hit the waves. This is new territory, and few places here have been mapped or marked. You’ll experience solitude and quiet when you’re out there. The best time to be in the south is during winter, when there are enormous waves battering the coast – just remember your wetsuit!

Tacna

Head to the opposite end of the country, close to the Chilean border, and you can find the city of Tacna. It’s a place that’s well known for its beautiful beaches, but has yet to really make it into surfing circles.

Punta Colorada is one of the best beaches to visit close to Tacna, and around the area you’ll find a few small-scale surfing shops and schools, though nothing like Lima or the north.

The beauty of Tacna is getting out to the coast and simply exploring. There are great waves here in winter and you can ask local surfers for advice on where to go, but you’re unlikely to find too many other people around.

You can even cross the border to Chile to visit Arica, a destination that’s well known in surfing circles too.

Experience level: intermediate to expert

Ilo

Found in the southern region of Moquegua, Ilo is perhaps one of the most underrated and unknown surfing destinations in Peru.

Ilo has excellent weather all year round with almost no rainfall and plenty of sunshine. The best beach here is Pozo de Lizas, a beautiful stretch of sand outside the city where you can find plenty of sunbathers but few surfers.

In winter it’s the perfect place for surfing, but be prepared for cold water and bring your own wetsuit and board, as there aren’t too many surf shops around town.

Experience level: intermediate to expert

Mejia Beach

Located in the southern Arequipa Province, Mejia Beach is another place that’s better known for its sunbathing than its surfing.

The beach is wonderful and long, and the breaks here can reach heights of two metres depending on the conditions.

Usually though, the waves are much smaller than this, making Mejia Beach one of the best places in the southern regions of Peru for beginners to learn how to surf and to practice – although there aren’t so many surf schools around.

It’s a great place to relax too, and to enjoy the gorgeous climes of the southern coast of Peru in summer or winter, because conditions here are consistent throughout the year.

Experience level: beginner to intermediate

lima-coast line Peru

FAQs

How cold does the water get in Peru?

This depends on the time of year that you are in Peru, but the Pacific Ocean here isn’t as warm as other countries in the region, despite being close to the equator. Water temperatures can drop to 15 degrees Celsius in winter and will be in the 20s during summer.

Can I rent or buy surfboards in Peru?

In popular destinations such as Punta Hermosa and other places along the northern coast, yes you can. You’ll also find plenty of surf shops in Lima and around the capital. In the south there are fewer opportunities for buying or renting surfboards, so be prepared in advance.

When’s the best time to see Machu Picchu?

While you’re in Peru, why not take the opportunity to see Machu Picchu too? If you’re surfing in winter then this is the best time to go to the highlands, because this is the dry season in Cusco.

Peru is one of the best places in the world to go surfing, because the South American nation has some of the best waves. Grab your surfboard and book your flight, because Peru is so much more than just Machu Picchu!

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