There is a winter and summer swell pattern, most notable in the north of the country, but the staple diet is a reliable, almost constant supply of S to SW swells arriving from the Roaring Forties latitudes between New Zealand and the tip of Chile at Cape Horn. This swell train runs on tracks serviced by the mighty Humboldt Current and the deep corridor of the Peru-Chile Trench, drawing in the energy to the coast with a dominant southerly theme. Size ranges from 2-15ft (0.6-5m) on the swell models, but certain breaks will have double that in wave face height. From April to September, there are a high percentage of days over 6ft (2m), plus the wave period tends toward the teens, with occasional forays up to the 20sec mark. The much rarer summer NW swells that herald from the Aleutian lows, way up north in the Pacific, are also super-long period, since there is a lot of decay on the 5-7 day journey and long lulls are part of the deal. Only the real heart of the season from Nov-Feb will have any consistency on the NW-facing Piura coastline, with up to 8ft (2.5m) swell height, but remember the NW days will be outnumbered by the S-SW swell days by 5 to 1. NW swells will struggle to make it further down the coast to the capital and beyond, but when they do, a few choice rights will be on offer for the regular footers at beaches and reefs that usually don't warrant a check.
There are waves to the north of the well-known Piura region in Tumbes, courtesy of North Pacific, mid-winter swells which fire while the rest of Peru is in the grip of summer swell patterns. Tumbes is a warm sub-tropical zone cloaked in equatorial rainforest and mangroves, contained within a number of sanctuaries and national parks. Anomalous with the rest of the Peruvian coastal landscape, the waves are also weird, with wide, open beachbreaks receiving N-NW swells from December to March. Major fishing towns on the mangrove estuaries like Puerto Pizarro are no good, but further south there are some swell magnet spots like south of the pier in La Cruz and Pena Redonda at km 1210 of the Pan American Hwy. There is still a propensity for lefts, wrapping around sandy curves rather than headlands and the most crowded spot will be Punta Mero, where rocks help hold the shape. The road parallels the beach at Cancas, allowing an easy surf check of the occasionally perfect reefs and semi-point bends in the coast north of the pier. Exclusive houses and hotels line the beach at Punta Sal where a left runs down the headland, but it is inconsistent and a good locale for alternative ocean sports.
Heading towards remote Bayovar seems un-necessary when the ultra long rides of Chicama are just a few hours south and the deep tubes of Cabo Blanco a few hours north. However, persistent rumours of 10ft barrels reeling forever are enough to lure the intrepid to this vast desert region of sand dunes and granite cliffs. Conditions are extremely harsh and for the most part, untouched by tourists (there isn't even a hotel) leaving daily activity to the companies that operate a pipeline bringing petroleum from the Amazon basin or tapping into one of the largest phosphate deposits in the world. Paita is the only real "coastal resort" in the area as it provides a port and accessible beaches for Piura, the fifth largest city in the country, 50km (30mi) inland.
In this crowded surf world it is almost unbelievable to think that the longest left hand point break on earth is reeling along right now with very few crowding issues even when there is a surf camp right on the doorstep and a speedboat into the lineup. It breaks mainly on sand, is relatively gentle and is also consistently offshore. This utopian wave is Chicama, but amazingly, there's more to this part of Peru than just Chicamas' endless walls.
LA LIBERTAD HOTSPOT
Ancash is a Quechua word meaning blue and this region is where the first Peruvian civilization, known as Chavín, originated and flourished in 600BC. It is a land of contrasts, with the 6,768m (22,204ft) white summit of the Andes mountains lying only 100km (62mi) from the deep blue Pacific coast. From Chimbote to Lima, much of the coast is a monotonous and inhospitable stretch of vast sand deserts, except along the green rivers valleys, cultivated with sugarcane, rice and cotton. Despite being blessed by highly consistent swells and a bunch of quality spots, this area is usually missed by travelling surfers who focus on the incredible waves further north, or the easily accessible breaks of Lima and Punta Hermosa. As crowd levels increase everywhere, this rich, empty surf region is definitely one worth checking out.