As I sit here in the Peruvian jungle with my wife, having a beer and waiting for a music festival to begin, I’ve finally found a moment to reflect.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m not entirely bummed about missing a new swell that will be filling in over the next few days. Simply put, I’m surfed out. Over the last three weeks, my wife and I have been tirelessly chasing swell up and down the Peruvian coast. The amount of time I’ve spent in the water has left me with crippling rashes, dings on all of my boards, a permanent salt water/urine stench in my wetsuit, and a giant grin from ear to ear. This is the beautiful state of being completely surfed out in Peru.
I was able to surf rock-laden barreling slabs, point breaks that provided kilometer-long rides, and mysto-desert-waves without a soul in sight. The sea provided the waves, our casa rodante (truck and camper) provided the mode of transport, and it was only up to us to figure out how to get to each destination.
The long-term forecast showed waves stacked for weeks. We spent a lot of time camping out in Lobitos, and while the waves and setup there were sweet, we learned the sand is better in the late season around September. Taking advice from our Peruvian buddy, we headed up to Panic Point to wait for Peru’s best wave to turn on. Sure enough, it did. It lit up, in fact. The bigger it got, the better it got. It was round, powerful, and broke right in front of a bunch of rocks. Sketchy, at times, but it was absolutely perfect. Without a doubt, it was one of the best waves I’ve surfed since I started this road trip from California 15 months ago.
Peru is huge, so the drives between destinations are long and arduous. A grueling day’s drive and we arrived in Pacasmayo. I didn’t know much about the place other than what most people who have surfed around Peru always say. “Pacasmayo is better than Chicama,” they say.
Within a few days, the swell started to fill in, as big lines from the south started marching in from the horizon. A great thing about this place is it can hold a lot of swell—double overhead it’s absolutely perfect. Every wave is a big drop and a long wall. Staying in the pocket and doing as many turns as you can is tough. Most of the time your legs get so tired that you just end up standing there, enjoying the ride and tripping out at how good the waves are. It’s fast, powerful, and there’s a boat taxi waiting for you when you kick out. Dreamy, ain’t it?
Despite the jargon, we felt that if we were in Peru, we had to check out Chicama. I must admit, the setup is great. It’s picture-perfect. It makes sense, given its reputation. But to my surprise, it was ridiculously crowded. There were more dudes with GoPro mouth mounts than I’ve ever seen. Guys as old as my dad on rhino chasers when it barely head high was pretty overwhelming at times. And getting one that broke all the way through was like finding a needle in a haystack. All in all, the wave was pretty much a burger. Little did I know the best was yet to come.
A friend had told me about a super low-key wave in the middle of the barren desert. I think it’s fairly well-known to most Peruvian local, but I’ll still keep it unnamed. We took a labyrinth of dirt roads. After having to turn around and backtrack more than once, we finally came over a hill and saw a perfect left breaking off this little point with no one around. It was so mechanical. No tubes, but just perfect. No wasting a minute, I jumped in the water and enjoyed one of those solo sessions most surfers only dream of.
Reflecting on the past few weeks in Peru, I don’t think the amount of swell or the variety of waves I was able to surf could have been any better. Peru definitely has tons to offer—you just have to be willing to endure extremely long car rides. Of course, you probably shouldn’t do it alone. Which brings me to my next point: A massive shout out goes out to my wife who toughed it out for a few weeks, sat on hot, desolate beaches, and shot many of the photos you see above.