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Surf Travel to Peru

Peru has the four S’s covered in abundance: Swell, Surf spots, Solitude and Seafood. These are the S words that surfers like best, and while Peru is a country that is on the surf travel map, the third largest country in South America is still Terra Incognita to most surfers. With all it has to offer in a surfing world that is increasingly populated, Peru should be more popular than it is, but thank God it isn’t. Peru is still a Sanctuary for surfers who just want to get waves, lots of waves, and aren’t afraid to drive through some dust to get them.

Peru’s coast starts just under the equator on the border with Ecuador, and ends at 18° south, on the border with Chile. That 1500 miles of coastline is almost twice as long as the Pacific Coast of California and three times the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

The citizens of Peru have been riding waves for fun and function maybe longer than any other culture in the world. At Chan Chan, near the village of Huanchaco, the fishermen and hobbyists who stand up and ride the reed boats called “caballitos de totora” are doing a kind of surfing that goes back 2,000 – 3,000 years. Who knows if the fishermen of 2000 B.C were doing it for fun, or function, or both?

Thousands of years and millions of waves later Peru has spawned a rich surf culture. In 1942 Peruvian sugarcane heir Carlos Dogny visited Hawaii and came back to Lima to found the Club Waikiki. Peru held its first National Surfing Championship in 1956, and hosted the International Peruvian Surfing Championship that same year. By 1965, the Peru International was second in prestige only to the Makaha Championships. From 1961 to 1973, the likes of John Severson, Felipe Pomar,. Paul Strauch, Fred Hemmings, Joey Cabell and Jeff Hakman traveled all the way to Peru to win the event.

In 1966 a Hawaiian surfer named Chuck Shipman was in a passenger jet flying along the Pacific Coast of Peru when he saw something far below that looked to be a very very long wave breaking along a desert point. He had discovered Chicama, the World’s Longest Wave.

The long and arid stretch of Peruvian coastline faces both Southwest and Northwest to pick up every swell generated in the Pacific Ocean.  You can go to Peru any time of year and score surf! So why isn’t all that coastline, surf and history more popular with traveling surfers? We don’t know, Peru is the most disregarded secret in the surfing world. Most people know the place has incredibly consistent surf, but most people overlook Peru and go elsewhere.

WaterWays offers packages based in each of Peru’s main surf zones (Southern, Central and Northern) that provide access to all the best breaks in each area. Custom itineraries can be tailored to combine regions for a complete Peruvian surf experience, or to include other wonders of the world like the Lost City of Machu Piccu or the head waters of the Amazon.

Peru: It’s there, it’s happening, and the whole world is going somewhere else. You should go down and see for yourself!