Ancient Ruins and Surfing the World’s Longest Wave in Huanchaco, Peru

After months spent in cities mostly in the highlands of South America, it’s time to enjoy some of the lovely coastline that this continent has to offer. An overnight bus from Lima takes us to the town of Trujillo and then a 15 minute minibus ride lands us in the small beach town of Huanchaco. This ramshackle seaside town is known for its great surf, fresh seafood and close proximity to the world’s longest point break wave in Chicama. Reaching up to almost 3 kilometers in length, it’s every surfers dream with smooth, consistent waves rolling in one after the other. It’s about a one hour bus ride to the point break from Trujillo, but as Chicama doesn’t have much to offer tourists, it’s better to base yourself in the town of Huanchaco.

Chicama, Peru, World's Longest Wave
The World’s Longest Wave. Photo Credit: Ben Herrgott, www.theduckwhisperer.com

If you’re just getting started, Huanchaco offers beginner-intermediate waves, cheap lessons and surf board rentals, although the water isn’t as warm as the surf towns farther north. There are a number of surf hostels on the main strip that all rent boards and offer lessons, so getting set up for the day is easy. It’s also cheaper than many other tourist towns in Peru, which makes it an affordable stopover on your journey north or south and has daily bus connections to Lima, Mancora and Ecuador.

Huanchaco, Peru
Beach time in Huanchaco

If you’re more of a land based dweller, the sprawling ruins of Chan Chan are located conveniently in between the towns of Trujillo and Huanchaco and can be easily reached by any passing minibus. Named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1986, it’s the largest pre-Columbian city in South America covering an area of 20 square kilometers.

Chan Chan, Peru, Ancient Ruins
The Massive Chan Chan ruins

Built around 850 AD the complex once housed up to 30,000 inhabitants and lasted until the conquest of the Inca Empire in 1470. Now if you’ve come straight from Machu Picchu as we had, it will be hard to ever look at ruins the same way again.  That being said, the sheer size of the complex can be appreciated. There are several official sites you can visit for the cost of one tourist ticket and others you can explore on your own.

Chan Chan ruins in Trujillo, Peru
Inside the sprawling ruins of Chan Chan

There are a few notable places to eat in town: Surf Meri hostel has the best breakfast for only a few dollars. I highly recommend the nutella-banana pancakes. If you’re looking for an excellent coffee or good wi-fi connection, the Chocolate Cafe offers gourmet coffee and good sandwiches.

Jen’s Overall Recommendation: A good place to break up a longer journey north or south with some sunshine, cheap accommodation and great surf.

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