Costa Norte, Peru
To unearth Peru’s treasures follow the Pan-American Highway north from Lima, mainly threading inland with the occasional spectacular glimpse of the Pacific. At Km 572 is Huanchaco, where they still make the traditional 'totora’ boats today. Good waves can almost always be found on the impressive point-break – and with a bit of luck, enough wind too. If not the 'adobe’ clay cities of Chan Chan, capital of the kingdom of Chimú, are well worth a visit anyway. The wind potential rises noticeably further north. Milagro is a lonely spot with unusual cross-onshore conditions, while the point of Chicama genuinely claims the world’s longest wave. The wind’s very gusty and the waves rarely bigger than 2.5m, but rides up to 1.5km are possible in a good swell! Despite this insane wave Chicama remains a dusty forgotten town – unlike the area’s hotspot, Pacasmayo. It’s a well-developed place so provides a good place to stay. Surfers get in at 'El Faro' lighthouse, kiters and windsurfers a little further downwind. Even small swells deliver good waves, and the wind builds to 12-20 knots in the afternoons too (S is cross to cross-off). In big winter swells (Apr-Jul) mast-high, kilometre-long rides are possible. In N swell the waves are shorter but still pack plenty of punch. If there’s neither waves nor wind on the Pacific, Peru’s second largest dammed reservoir at 400,000,000m³ Represa Gallito Ciego offers flat freshwater and a reliable 15-25 knot thermal on the north bank. Back on the coast, urban Chiclayo Pimentel has a fun beach-break that works best when the swell’s not too big. Further north it’s worth a detour off-road to the remote world-class waves of Nunura. Unfortunately it doesn’t work as well since they started farming Jacob’s mussels here, but there’s camping nearby at Bayóvar. In contrast, the endless sandy beach of Colan is a gentle beginner’s venue with almost onshore wind. In Piura Province, almost as many outstanding breaks line the coast as offshore oilrigs. The point-break Negritos on the northern edge of Punta Parinas is rarely visited. Access is via Talara, where an A-frame breaks over sand. Mornings are still and afternoons windy. Baterias is an option in south-easterly wind, but the area’s real highlight is Lobitos – the spectacularly powerful, long, super-quick left-hander up to 3m with cross-offshore wind that stars in the Cabrinha video 'Catalyst’. Originally a US military base in the Second World War, the little village is still inhabited by Peruvians today but parts of it are like a dusty scene from a spaghetti western: deserted buildings, howling wind, burning sun and vultures circling overhead. Tres Cruces is a wonderful beach with similar conditions, even if the waves aren’t quite as long. The point-break south of the fishing village El Nuro also gets good winds, while Los Organos ('The Organ Pipes’) was named after the sound of the wind blowing over the cliffs. Kiters can start a downwinder from the village, passing the white sandy beach of Vichayito and natural reef-pools at Pocitas Beach to finish round Mancora Point. An average day here delivers shoulder-high waves, and it soon gets busy. With 4,500 inhabitants, the village makes a good base for exploring the north – and with relaxed beach life, shops, restaurants and a chill-out bar it’s also great for non-surfers. 2km from the point there’s flat water in a Lagoon that’s sheltered from open ocean by dunes.
Kite and Windsurfing Guide