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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Chicama

Chicama

Puerto Malabrigo - La Libertad, Peru

Surf, Bodyboard

The famous left pointbreak at Chicama can be found together with a small fishing port and beautiful coastal city of the same name, a place which today is a dream destination for thousands of surfers around the world. A wave more than two kilometres long which can be surfed until your legs can’t take any more, something which no one has done all in one go but the challenge is always there. This spectacular wave goes from the furthest point of the headland to the fishing pier where the wave ends. It’s located half way between Lima, Peru’s capital, and the Ecuadorian border, in Malabrigo port, 70 kilometres north of Trujillo city towards Paiján, at kilometre 614 of the Pan-American Highway North.

Chicama is one of the best waves in the world and so it’s very important to be respectful with the locals. As it has been populated for more than 6.000 years, it has a long history. The first villagers surfed in homemade canoes made of cane thousands of years ago. It is said that the Chicama line up was first seen in 1965 by the Hawaiian Chuck Shipman from the plane window when he was returning to Hawaii after the Punta Rocas competition near Lima in Peru. The legend that followed of there being an eternal wave in Peru became reality in 1967 when a group of pioneering Peruvian surfers confirmed what Shipman saw in 1965 and after an arduous search, they reached the Chicama port. Among the best local surfers you’ll find Juan Arroyo, known as Pajarete, who these days owns one of the hotels located right in front of the ‘Hombre’ peak, and ‘El Zorro’, a much respected surfer since he was one of the first to catch the biggest waves in Chicama. The situation hasn’t changed a lot despite this coast hosting many incredible waves, it still hasn’t been developed with regards to large infrastructures and so those that have been lucky enough to visit have stayed in small hotels and village houses, coexisting alongside the inhabitants. Nowadays, everything is signposted and there are all types of both budget and luxury accommodation and, despite what you may hear, Peru is actually a very safe country with the police making great improvements over the past few years to achieve social stability on the streets of most of the towns and cities.

Exiting Lima Airport is quite complicated so it’s a good idea to get a taxi. If you do, make sure it’s an official one and tell the driver to take you to one of the bus stations where the long distance companies Cruz del Sur and Linea operate from. The next step is to head to Trujillo, Peru’s second largest city, a university city and one of the most chaotic. Once you reach Trujillo it’s recommendable to get another taxi from the station to take you to another station with local buses which will take you in two hours to Malabrigo Port in Chicama for three dollars, or get the taxi directly for around 40 dollars. On arrival, the vision of perfect lines all the way to the horizon is spectacular. You’ll see that Chicama has great vibes and you will be made to feel very welcome. You’ll also be able to try some of the world’s best gastronomy, like the Cebiche, a Peruvian speciality which is fantastic in Chicama, and spend hours in the ‘picanteras’ and taverns chatting and sharing litres of beer with the locals. It’s one of the best ways to get to know this unique place.

chicama-peru

Conditions

Chicama has waves all year round but we can define various seasons. In January and February the best conditions come with a WNW swell from 2 feet and 15 second periods. During these months, the Cape peak receives the best swell, although pay attention as a SW swell could also arrive. The best season is from March through to November, especially until October, as it’s when the best conditions arrive with frequent SW swells from 4 feet, and SSW which needs at least 8 feet, both of these with periods of between 13 and 14 seconds. The best wind direction is NE and E. The wave can be enjoyed with any tide, but the sections link up better with a rising mid tide. In general Chicama needs swell but it’s always a good option to head towards the nearby village Huanchaco where you’ll always find something. The bottom alternates between rock and sand depending on the section and there are strong currents so you need to paddle constantly to maintain your position. Surprisingly, despite its latitude, the landscape around Chicama is very arid, the water is cold (17-22 ° C), and during the season, the mornings are foggy because of the cold south current meeting the warmer, humid winds from the north. You’ll need a 3 mm wetsuit at least, except in the summer when a shorty is enough. Be careful of the many sea urchins that are around the rocks.

The Cape is the first peak where the wave begins and also the most consistent. It’s the best option during the summer, from December to March. The next is the main peak, the Point, and from there you can start the long 2 km ride. The take off zone by the rocks is the most critical part as there is a barrel which requires some level but a little further down there’s an easy drop in and a really nice stretch with hollow sections where you can get some speed for manoeuvers. Its take off zone can be easily distinguished in front of the rocks and it’s the best as it is less affected by the current. At the third peak, Dos Tetas, the wave gives a long open face with a bigger wall and it seems like it’s going to close out but it always opens up and allows for manoeuvers. The Hotel peak follows it, located in front of the Chicama Boutique Hotel & Spa, it’s the fastest section. The next peak, the Hombre, is quite difficult to link up to but it has good barrels. The final peak is the Malecón, and there you should pay attention to not end up near the pier.

Due to its size, this wave can handle a lot of surfers, most of which will be out of the water or not in position anyway. On the good days you’ll do well to catch 4 or 5 waves in one session as you need to play with the current constantly and look for the next take off. It’s a lot easier to get out and walk to the peak. Some pay a high price to be transported so they don’t have to paddle, something which has made the locals less compassionate and drop ins common. However, as it’s so long, just be patient and you’ll get your wave.
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Left
  • Wind
    E - NE
  • Tide
    Rising
  • Swell
    S - SW - N
  • Bottom
    Sand - rock
  • Size
    3 to 12 ft
  • Time of year
    All year
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