The wave at Chicama is actually five; La Isla, The Cape, The Point, El Hombre and The Pier. Individually, only The Point would be considered world-class, but laid end-to-end and linking up under bigger swells it becomes something special, offering waves of up to two kilometers. Imagine the Superbank flipped to a left, scrubbed clean of humanity, and neutered slightly and you’ve got Chicama. It’s more a natural marvel than a world-class wave, and in a lot of ways its typical of the kind of wave you’ll find on the Western seaboard of South America – long left points under the caress of long-range South Pacific swells. The beauty of this wave, apart from the numbers ticking over on your surfboards odometer, is that surfing it is unlikely to be the death of you (unlike several other entries into this list). The wave breaks on sand, and while there are sections that barrel, for the most it’s a relaxing and relentless wall that just keeps materialising in front of you. The run around back up the point is the toughest part of the whole gig, although for the more sedentary amongst you can hire a cab back out the point for just a handful of coins.
Once you’ve done the hard work and made it to South America then getting to Puerto Chicama is actually pretty easy, being just a short flight and a drive from the Peruvian capital, Lima. The living in town is pretty easy and it needs to be, as Chicama requires quite a bit of swell to show form and you may be waiting in the dirt for a good while to score it. There are a number of cheap hotels in town, and one upmarket surf resort that is still only 70 bucks a day and gives you the bonus of having a zodiac taxi service out in the lineup. The landscape might be arid but the ocean is teeming, and so you’ll be living of the bounty of the Humboldt Current with plenty of cerviche and prawns washed down with cheap cerveza. There ain’t much in the way of natural beauty, but you can use your downtime exploring both the Temple of the Sun and the Moon and the area’s rich indigenous history.
You wouldn’t travel half a globe to surf Chicama, but if you throw it into an itinerary that includes Machu Picchu, Rio, the Amazon, an Argentinian princess and a road trip down through Chile… well, then the whole thing starts to take on a certain charm.