Huanchaco, Peru: The Surf Spot Guide
Surf tourism in Peru has recently started increasing. Most surfers come to Peru to surf the world’s longest left wave in Chicama. Others come to visit the Northern coast to enjoy warm Peruvian waters in Máncora, tranquility in Lobitos, and tubes in Los Órganos or Cabo Blanco. Those who like massive waves wait for a good swell alert to go to Pacasmayo. But only a few surfers make it to Huanchaco.
Huanchaco is located near the city of Trujillo, in La Libertad region. You can easily get to Trujillo from Lima, by bus in 8 hours and by plane in just 1 hour. Then it’s a 15-20 minute bus or taxi ride to Huanchaco.
Surfing originated in Huanchaco around 5,000 years ago when local fishermen introduced a boat called “caballito de totora”. These boats are made from dried totora reed that are grown on the outskirt of the town and they’re still used daily for fishing, as a touristic attraction, or as a decoration.
In 2013 Huanchaco was named the first World Surfing Reserve in Peru. Apart from being the birthplace of surfing, it also has the benefit of having consistant waves all year long for surfers of all levels.
The Wave Guide
If you are planning to visit Huanchaco, you might need some guidance at first as there is a variety of surf spots so let’s break them down for you.
1. The beginners’ spot: La Curva
La Curva, also called La Curvita, is located right by the pier (El Muelle). This spot is perfect for anyone who’s new to surfing and for surfers who prefer tiny waves. This wave never gets too big which makes it super safe for newbies. Another great benefit for beginner surfers is that it doesn’t require too much paddling or duck diving/turtle rolling. That’s also the reason why it’s so popular amongst local surf schools.
ADVANTAGE: Safe, small waves, ideal for beginners.
2. The right wave: El Boquerón
El Boquerón is not always on fire. It’s recommended to go and check out the conditions before going in the water since it’s not a consistent wave and it can be unpredictable at times. The best waves usually come during Peruvian winter and spring ( = European summer and autumn). If you are looking for some right waves, this is the spot! On smaller days it’s suitable for beginners as well.
ADVANTAGE: Right wave, sandy bottom.
DISADVANTAGE: Not so consistent and usually quite a fat wave which makes it perfect for long boarders.
3. From La Poza to La Punta del Muelle
This section is ideal for intermediate to advanced surfers but on small days it can work for beginners too. There are several breaks: La Poza, Sunkella, Sunkelio, El Elio, Máncorita and La Punta del Muelle.
La Poza is located in front of Frog’s Beach Club, at the entrance to Huanchaco. The majority of surfers choose to start their session at La Poza or at Sunkella, especially when the current is strong. On most days you will probably begin your session at Sunkella. It’s named after a restaurant that’s located right in front of the break.
Sunkelio is a section between Sunkella and El Elio, and on some occasions serves you a right wave to ride. El Elio, sometimes also reffered to as Costa Gas (you can see the big sign on a building right in front of it), works almost every day and it’s often a place where surfers gather in a crowd.
Máncorita is located in front of a beach bar called Instabar. In summer (December-March) it’s open every day and you can hear loud reggeaton music coming out of the bar while you’re in the water. After this spot you have La Punta del Muelle (The point of the pier). This section often offers the most epic waves in Huanchaco and if you are lucky, you can catch a wave that will take you pass La Curvita all the way to El Boquerón, or even get barreled!
ADVANTAGES: Many point breaks, waves all year long.
DISADVANTAGES: Sometimes strong current, occasionally gets crowded.
The best time to go surfing is usually when the tide is going from low to hide. If you decide to surf at low tide, be extra careful about your fins and your feet! The bottom is rocky, sharp, and it’s also a home to sea urchins. Make sure to pass all the big rocks close to the shore before jumping on your board to avoid any damage.
When you’re done with your session, it’s safe to get out of the water at any part of the beach. But again, be careful at low tide. If you end up by the pier in a low tide, it’s much easier to paddle around it and get out of the water at La Curvita to avoid walking on the rocks.
The busiest time of the day is typically after 4 pm = the sunset session. It’s when all the locals are finally done with their work and so they all hurry to catch some waves. The rest of the day you will barely see anyone in the water.
In summer it’s possible to surf without a wetsuit but don’t expect to feel too warm during your session. The air can get very hot but the water temperature usually stays quite low. The rest of the year you will need a 4.3 mm wetsuit to keep you warm and some surfers even wear booties.
TIP: In the evening you can enjoy the world’s most beautiful sunsets. Thanks to the location the sun always sets right in front of you on the ocean’s horizon and will leave you stunned by its magnifique display of colors. Many people gather on the beach to watch the sun leaving the sky and to enjoy some cold beer or fruity cremoladas with friends and family.