The World’s Longest Surfing Wave at Chicama, Peru

Sep 10, 2016 2 comments

The small coastal town of Puerto Chicama, in northwestern Peru, is home to the longest, the most perfect, left-breaking wave in the world. Here, the wave stretches for about 2.2 km from the point —an isolated rocky outcrop where the wave breaks— to a long pier on the barren coast, where the wave ends. Locals confirm that the entire distance has been ridden on a single wave. The whole cape upon which the waves break, to their most westernmost end, is actually 4 km long, although no one has ever ridden it for that distance.


An endless series of left-breaking swells is a common sight at Chicama. “If you fall off or need a rest, just wait for the next wave coming right behind and off you go again! It is a dream,” —Ben Herrgott, an Australian surfer.  Photo credit: Jonathan/Flickr

The surfing potential of Chicama was first discovered in 1965 by Hawaiian surfer Chuck Shipman. Legend has it that Shipman was peering out of the window of plane when he noticed an impossibly long left-breaking wave (waves are either left or right, depending on which direction the wave breaks from the point of view of the surfer riding the wave). He asked the pilot about the place, and once he got to Hawaii, Shipman consulted a large detailed map of Peru, and identified a couple of promising headlands.

Shipman then wrote to his friends in Peru and urged them to explore the northwestern coast. The first attempt failed to find the unmarked dirt road to Chicama, but later, another group of surfers found the way to the promising surf spot. Since then Chicama has also a popular surf destination.

The wave at Chicama is divided into multiple sections. The very outside point is called “Malpaso”, which breaks for about 150 meters. The next point toward town is called “Keys”, which breaks for another 600 meters before hitting deep water. Then comes “the Point” which is about a kilometer long and considered the best part of the wave. Finally, there is “El Hombre”. The waves usually doesn’t connect, but when the swell is over six feet high, which is quite rare, one can ride all the way to the pier on a single wave. The ride can last ride for three to five minutes —an eternity for a surfer.

Early this year, the legendary wave at Chicama became the world’s first nationally protected surf break, when the Peruvian government passed a law forbidding any construction within a kilometer of the shoreline that could potentially affect the way the wave breaks along the coast line. The government also plans to protect five other waves. Eventually the country hopes to have 130 protected waves.

Related: The Monster Waves at Nazare, Portugal


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Photo credit: Silvan Hagen/Flickr


Photo credit: unknown


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Sources: / / Wikipedia / Surfline


  1. Photo credit: unknown -- does not look like chicama, does it?

  2. About the name "Chicama": I saw something like your point surf photos through my commercial airline window on three overflights in 1965 and 1966. I had a big map onboard, and the largest name on that particular map of the area we were flying over was "Chicama". The Chicama Valley and River are actually far to the south of the legendary 4 km. cape, which is near Puerto Malabrigo. However, "Chicama" had a cachét that "Malabrigo" seemed to lack.

    Several expeditions to the area which failed to find it in 1966. The only roads were through sugar fields that were always being moved. We did surf small Bermejo and big Pacasmayo, but it was windy and blown out. You have more typical photos, but I was lucky to have been flying during bigger swells. An amusing story of the early explorers can be found here:


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