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Do not go to Hawaii for good surf, try Peru instead!

Updated on December 27, 2012

Northern Peru: a surfer's paradise!

Peru is on the western side of South America and it has a 2,400 km long coast on the Pacific Ocean! The northern coastline of the country is attracting an increasing number of surfers and even the New York Times and Transworld Surf magazine have featured articles about surfing in Peru! This country is more than just sports though, as it also happens to contain some of the world's biggest and easily accessible archaeological ruins and they are all close to the Pan American Highway.

Assuming that you start your trip from Lima, I will comment about the coast going northwards and then, in a future hub, I will cover the beaches around the capital itself and the southern coast of the country.

The northern region is best known for the remnants of earlier civilizations. One of Americas' oldest citadels, the urban settlement of Caral is located in the Supe Valley, about sixty miles north of Lima. The site, dates back to 2500 BC and it contains eight tomb pyramids.

Further up the coast, the Casma Valley also holds many archaeological treasures. Visitors to the Sechin Alto complex may now view what remains of the city's temples, tombs and plaza, some of which date back to 3500 BC. At nearby Chanquillo, the hilltop set of thirteen towers is thought to be the world's oldest solar observatory.

Three of the Peru's northern major cities: Chimbote, Trujillo and Chiclayo are in this area and they are linked to Lima, the capital, by the Pan-American Highway, running along the coast. All three cities are useful basis for exploring the region's most important archaeological sites, as well as its mountains and beaches.

East of this area are some spectacular trails of the Cordillera Blanca and the Huascarán National Park. There is also mountain climbing and trekking, and the Callejón de Huaylas, boasts some of the most beautiful peaks in South America. Near Huaraz, in the Conchucos Valley, lies Chavin de Huantar, a fortress temple with carved heads and other stonework, belonging to the Chavin culture, one of Peru's earliest civilisations. The complex, dating back to 1200 to 800 BC, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is still being excavated.

After Chimbote, a large fishing port, comes Trujillo, Peru’s most important northern city. It has been described as charming, simple, formal and delicate and is noted for its colourful colonial architecture. The area has some of the country’s greatest archaeological sites, like Chan Chan, a spectacular eight square mile adobe city of the Chimú civilization, which has also been named Unesco World Heritage Site.

Among the Trujillo area beaches, Huanchaco is an outgoing and friendly fishing village. It is unique because the local fishermen's boats are handmade rafts constructed of totora reeds, called caballitos (little horses) and they are ridden surfboard-style. The design of these boats has changed little from the craft used by pre-Inca fishing tribes.

Chiclayo, Peru's fourth largest city, is next and it is an agricultural centre known for its excellent cuisine. The Royal Tombs of Sipan, encased in pyramids, were discovered east of the city in the Lambayeque Valley. These Moche tombs, some in good condition, are being excavated and restored. My hub: talks about the area, as well as the museum. You might also be tempted to visit the nearby village of Monsefu, known for its music and crafts market.

Some of Peru's most popular surfing destinations are found in the north, in part, because unlike the central and southern Peruvian coast, the northernmost departments do not become covered in the garua mists, so they are more likely to have clear skies. The choice of many advanced surfers is Puerto Chicama, fifty miles north of Trujillo, where the longest wave in the world is supposed to be found, or Bayovar, on the Illescas Peninsula, half-way between the cities of Piura and Chiclayo. Surfing enthusiasts who are looking for more than waves may prefer the white sand beach of Mancora, or the less crowded Los Organos, a few miles south.

For sunbathers, the pristine sands and turquoise waters of Punta Sal, fifteen miles north of Mancora, can't be surpassed. Further down the coast, the town of Colan offers rental beach houses on stilts.

The region's smaller cities include the port of Piura, where 70% of Peru's oil is produced, and collectors of ceramics may also wish to stop off in the village of Chulucanas, near Piura, to view the pottery being made using ancient techniques.

Tumbes is a city near the Ecuador border, where the conquistadors first landed. Its protected ecosystems include Los Manglares de Tumbes, (subtropical coastal mangroves with a wide variety of seabird species) and Cerros de Amotape National Park (for the protection of wildlife-rich tropical dry equatorial forests). The park has no tourist services and is best visited during the winter months from April to September.

White water rafting is popular on the Tumbes River (May to October), where rapids are found between the towns of Figuerosa and Rica Playa. Rafters get the added thrill of encountering crocodiles, otters and iguanas too.

Surfing beaches in northern Peru


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    • sylvia13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Gadea de Beer 

      8 years ago from Shoal Bay, NSW, Australia

      Thanks for commenting and I am glad that you enjoyed surfing in my country, Peru!

    • SurferGirl1 profile image


      8 years ago from California

      I agree as have surfed Hawaii and Peru quite a bit. Peru is definitely a gem as there are so many quality waves that are uncrowded.

    • sylvia13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Gadea de Beer 

      9 years ago from Shoal Bay, NSW, Australia

      You should not overlook L.A. there is so much to see and experience there! In addition to the countries you mentioned, don't forget about the little ones, like Ecuador and Uruguay, but don't overlook the big ones either, meaning Brazil! Thanks for leaving comment!

    • Wanderlust profile image


      9 years ago from New York City

      With all my travelling I have to admit that Latin America was overlooked by me. I would really love to explore Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia. Thank you for your tip :)

    • Mitch King profile image

      Mitch King 

      9 years ago from Wilsoville, OR, USA

      Hawaii may be the original mecca for surfing but there are gems such as Peru with great surfing. As a bonus these places are usually more affordable and the culture is more interesting.

    • sylvia13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Gadea de Beer 

      9 years ago from Shoal Bay, NSW, Australia

      I have never been to any island off Peru, but it is true the coast is very much desert like, except when rivers flow from the mountains and then it can be very green and productive. As far as roads, the Pan American Highway runs the whole length of Peru and connects to Ecuador, the country to the north and Chile to the South. Coastal roads are not that bad, but mountain ones could be difficult, especially when it rains.

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 

      9 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      I wish I could really surf! Peru looks pretty.

    • profile image 

      9 years ago

      Sounds lovely would love to visit. Is it true that peru has next to no roads. A friend of mine went on holiday off the coast of Peru, on a full on desert island, He said "its was like something out of a cartoon a pile of white sand with a palm tree sticking out and that was about it, it was great"

    • stricktlydating profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Oh I'd love to got there! Great Hub.

    • egiv profile image


      9 years ago

      I have been surfing in Peru! My family is from there, it is beautiful and the waves are, in fact, giant.

    • sylvia13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Gadea de Beer 

      9 years ago from Shoal Bay, NSW, Australia

      I read that you have only been in HP for 9 days, so I would like to welcome you and to wish you the very best! I will make more comments once I read your 3 published hubs about being a receptionist, something that I have never done and know very little about!

    • receptionist profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, this is such a nice spot. I never thought waves in Peru are that good. Thanks for sharing this hub. By the way, I'm gathering opinions right now about my hubs. Mind if you help me out with this and check my hubs? Thanks


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