Costa Sur, Peru
The city beaches of Lima – ironically named 'Costa Verde’ – get good waves but very little wind and are overcrowded, dirty and unsafe in summer. Even the surf-breaks at Punta Hermosa south of the capital only score a little wind. With a bit of luck you might get a 12-15-knot day in Asia to make the most of the beach-break in a tranquil setting. The wind starts to blow in Pisco, namesake of the national drink (40% proof brandy). A thermal over the Paracas peninsula means southerly winds build over 250 days a year. It doesn’t blow quite as hard in San Andres and the atmosphere – along with the stench of the fish factory – takes some getting used to, but the wind is cross-shore over a small beach-break. It’s completely different in the Paracas National Park, and the town itself. Great value is placed on a clean environment around here, and the conservation of all kinds of species including sea-lions, penguins and rare birds. The etchings scratched into rocks by early seafarers are also impressive – as are the crazy sheer cliffs. Paracas is one of Peru’s favourite kite and windsurf locations as it’s just 3 hours from Lima, offers various spots, is well set up for tourists and hardly suffers any coastal fog ('garua’). Instead there’s a lot more wind! In the afternoons the 'Paraca’ reliably reaches 15-25 knots, occasionally becoming a 'Paraca storm’ at a sand-blasting 30+ knots. There are three launches on the vast lagoon: La Chancha on the urbanised south-east bank, Santa Domingo has really flat water on the south bank, while Atenas on the west bank is the windiest spot and host to national windsurf contests. They’re all very shallow near shore so great for beginners. South of the lagoon, next to the 'Cathedral’ rock formation that collapsed during the 2007 earthquake, is a really wild beach-break called Supay. The best wave spot on the Paracas Peninsula is 5km away at Zarate. Despite the shingle beach it offers an easy launch and very clean waves to ride. Framed by an arid landscape, there’s a great view of the massive sandy bay of Playon as you drive in over a hill on the southern edge of the national park. Very clean waves break here, but they close out on big swells. The bay of Mendieta is more enclosed, so it’s mainly flat water with small waves only forming on the southern point. This is the area’s windiest venue though – it can blow 15-25 knots even when everywhere else is dead. It’s also a great place to camp. Laguna Grande is almost completely cut off from the ocean, offering flat to choppy water. A tiny channel connects it to the enormous Bahia Independencia, which hosts a few waves near the small village in the north. Well removed from the Pan-American Highway and 160km from Paracas as the crow flies, Puerto Caballos is only accessible via unpaved roads and dirt tracks. Way out in the desert, the thermally accelerated winds are strong and gusty as they descend 600m down a hill into the bay. In good SW swell three points connect to form one never-ending left. In 'town’ there’s no electricity or water, and just a handful of local fishermen occasionally stay in the rundown buildings. A real insider tip and escape from civilisation – buy essentials beforehand in Ica, Palpa or Nasca! Tanaka is another ramshackle village, but at least the Pan-American Highway hugs the coast again here. The wind’s often strong and cross-onshore, so the waves are better when the swell’s not too big.
Kite and Windsurfing Guide