It’s no secret that Peru is a mecca for adventure travel. People flock from all over the world to explore its unrivalled scenery of mountain, jungle and desert. But not everybody knows that the country also has a world-class surfing scene, with some of the most rideable waves in South America. In this Lima surf guide, we explain everything you need to know before hitting the waves in Peru’s vibrant capital.
In this article:
Surfing in Lima, Peru: a quick background
With over 2,500 kilometres of Pacific coastline strewn with endless sandy beaches, Peru is the home of surfing in South America. In fact, it is believed that the origins of surfing in Peru date back 5,000 years.
Today, Peru’s surfing scene is vibrant and growing. The broad variety of waves and conditions means there are locations suitable for every kind of surfer from beginner to pro.
The country has gradually made its mark on the international surfing scene. Over the years Peru has hosted major events including the ISA World Championships, the World Surf League and the Pan American Games.
There is also no shortage of homegrown surfing talent. Several world champions have hailed from Peru, including Felipe Pomar (men’s world champion in 1965), Sofía Mulánovich (women’s world champion in 2004) and Cristobal de Col (junior world champion in 2011).
The capital city, Lima, is the centre of Peru’s surfing scene and offers an impressive range of options for hitting the waves. The city is within close reach of many excellent surfing locations, from the busy beaches of Miraflores to secluded spots along the coast.
Lima surf experiences and tours to try
Wondering where to get started? There’s no better way to discover the surf in Lima than with some friendly local experts. Here are some recommended surf experiences you can try:
- Surf lessons in Lima – a popular course for beginners in small groups. Lean the basics and try out your skills in the water.
- Surf and ceviche – surf lessons at Makaha beach, a trip to a fishing port and a chance to sample the famous local dish, ceviche.
- Lima surf trip – a more immersive full-day experience exploring some of the best surfing spots around Lima with a knowledgable guide.
Surfing seasons in Lima
It’s possible to surf in Lima at any time of year, although there are some seasonal differences. In the summer months – from December to February – there are northern swells, less wind, and the water is warmer.
Conversely, the winter months from June to August bring southern swells and usually much bigger waves, while the water and air are colder. Throughout the year, water temperatures in Lima vary from 14–20°C.
The conditions can change from day to day, so on a surfing trip your itinerary will depend on where the best waves are at the time.
The best Lima surf spots
The Lima province alone has over 250 kilometres of coastline. The following are some of the premium spots for surfing in the area.
Located about an hour south of the city, the Punta Hermosa district has something for surfers of all skill levels, featuring a string of beaches within close proximity of one another. The most popular of these is Punta Rocas, with a high swell consistency all year round and predominantly right reef breaks.
A couple of kilometres along, the twinned beaches of Caballeros and Señoritas derive their names from the days when men and women were segregated. Caballeros is one of Peru’s very best right point breaks, while Señoritas is a powerful left point break suitable for experienced surfers.
Other surf spots in Punta Hermosa include La Isla, El Paso, Playa Norte and El Huayco.
You don’t have to travel far from Lima city centre to find good surf. The most popular backpacker district, Miraflores, is home to a handful of beaches beneath the towering cliffs of the Costa Verde stretch of coastline. These are some of the easiest spots to access from the city, so they can also get quite crowded.
On the north end, Playa Makaha typically features gentle, rolling beach breaks and is a good place for learning to surf. Redondo, on the southern side, is another prime spot for beginners and intermediates, with consistent left and right reef breaks all year round.
More experienced surfers can head slightly north of Makaha to find the beach breaks of Punta Roquitas and reef breaks La Pampilla. This exposed stretch of the coastline sees a reliable swell throughout the year, and offers both lefts and rights.
Located in the district of Chorrillos just south of Miraflores, La Herradura is one of the best point breaks in Peru, situated inside a horseshoe bay with waves breaking against high cliffs. On good days, when the swell gets going from the south, the long left can be ridden for up to 500 metres on waves up to four metres high.
The best waves at La Herradura usually come at low and mid tide, and the best swell comes from the south-west.
South of La Herradura around the headland, Villa is a popular spot for experienced surfers, especially when the breaks are flat elsewhere. A beach break with both lefts and rights, the surf is usually good here at all stages of the tide.
Puerto Viejo, a point break located just beyond Punta Hermosa down the coast, is one of the prime surfing spots to the south of Lima. The surf on this exposed beach is best at low tide and when the swell comes from the south and the west, with waves typically 1–2 metres high. Winter is the ideal time of year for surfing here.
About two hours’ drive south of Lima, Cerro Azul is a classic left-hand point break. When the swell is big you can ride the wave 350 metres from the cliffs through the pier. A right break also sometimes forms around the other side of the pier if there is a big north swell.
The sandy beach of Cerro Azul and its quiet surroundings are a pleasant escape from the city crowds. The surf is consistent throughout the year, with the biggest swells coming in winter.
Pico Alto is where you will find the biggest waves in Peru, a mile out from the shore. This spot is for expert surfers only, and is not including in surfing tour packages. At its peak the waves can reach 9–10 metres high.
Secret surfing locations
Both north and south of Lima along the coast, there are a few lesser-known, world-class surfing spots that are kept hushed among the surfing community. Depending on the conditions of the day, you may be able to ask a local guide to introduce you to some of these hidden gems.
Map of Lima surf spots
You can see the locations of the Lima surf locations highlighted in this article on the map below:
What to pack for surfing in Lima
If you are surfing for the first time, local surf schools in Lima will be able to offer equipment for hire. For more advanced surfers, the essentials to bring on a surf safari in Lima include:
- Wetsuit minimum 2–3mm to protect against the elements (bring a 4mm if you have one in the winter season)
- Bathing suit
More adventure activities in Lima
Lima is a launchpad for trekking in some of Peru’s most spectacular natural environments. Within a few hours’ drive you can reach trails to the beautiful waterfalls of Palacala and Antankalla, the pre-Inca hilltop ruins of Rúpac, and ancient rock formations of Marcahuasi, to name just a few.
As the trails accessible from Lima are lesser-known than the classic routes around the hiking hub of Cusco, they are often peaceful and uncrowded.
See our ultimate Peru trekking guide for more information and a rundown of 35 amazing hikes around the country.
Further reading on Lima and Peru
For more inspiration in planning your trip to Lima and elsewhere in Peru, you can also read:
- Peru itinerary and travel guide: 1 week – 4 weeks
- Lima in 2 days: the perfect itinerary
- Best hostels in Lima + guide to the backpacker districts
To check the latest surfing conditions in Lima, see magicseaweed.
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