Learning to Surf In Huanchaco

Sunday, 29 April 2018
Huanchaco is a small beach town in the North, just 10 minutes away from Trujillo, Peru’s third largest city. We wouldn’t put it into the ‘must-visit’ category of Peru as to be honest the beaches are better around Mancora, there’s a hell of a lot more to do around Lima and you’ll find much more beautiful architecture in the South such as in Arequipa and Cusco. However the town does manage to attract a fair few tourists around the year and this is mainly due to its waves. Surfing is incredibly popular here due to guaranteed waves, making it good both for learners and those more experienced on the board. 

We’ve always wanted to try our hand at surfing and Huanchaco sounded like the perfect place to do so, especially with it being positioned between Lima in he centre of the country and the beaches in the North, making for a good stop of point for us heading up towards Ecuador. We were so glad we made this decision because, as promised, the waves were great, the teaching was excellent and it didn’t cost us an arm and a leg. For anyone thinking about learning to surf in South America we’d recommend heading to Huanchaco and in this post we’ll explain why and let you know a little more about what to expect from your first surf lessons! 

Day 1

We’d booked surf lessons with Muchik surf school the day before, arranging that we’d start at 9:00am. The first part of the lesson was theory where we went over a two step process of how to stand up on the board. The guy teaching us had been teaching longer than we’d been alive and so we were in good hands. After (kind-of) getting the hang of the steps, we were given wetsuits to change into and we headed to the water.

Surprisingly the water was a reasonable temperature, or at least the wetsuits worked well, which reminded us why we’d never tried surfing in the UK. There were three of us and we had two teachers in the water which meant we never had to wait for the instructor to catch the wave.

We were also surprised how we managed to stand up on the first go. Of course we weren’t great and didn’t last too long, but the steps we’d learnt seemed to work well and the teachers in the water were clearly good at their job.

One thing we weren’t aware of though is the huge effort it takes to paddle back out to catch another wave. This gets exhausting and we were all ready to finish by the end, feeling like we needed to go back to bed.




Day 2

Lissa enjoyed surfing but not enough to go back out the following day and so decided to sit on the beach and laugh at my pathetic attempts to ‘catch the wave’. I took another lesson which followed the same format - theory first, then practising in the water. The main steps up from the first lesson were that I was now using a smaller board (which is apparently harder) and I was encouraged to catch the wave myself and work on my own timings. This was a lot harder than previously where I was told exactly when to stand up. By the end I felt pretty confident on the small waves, but I think I’ll need to take some more lessons in the future!

How much did it cost?

A lesson which lasted 2 hours cost 70 soles ($22us) which we thought was very good value. The teaching was excellent, all of the instructors were qualified and were patient. The lessons were almost one on one meaning we never had to wait around for the instructors. In our opinion, two hours was plenty and we wouldn’t have wanted to do much more, as to the beginner it gets really tiring. We would highly recommend Muchik Surf school as they were really patient with us, even then we were forgetting everything we were told as soon as a wave came.

Where to stay in Huanchaco?

We stayed at Wachaque Surf which is a really good option if you want a quieter place and are looking to save a bit of money. It’s pretty close to the beach, only a 5 minute walk, and the area felt completely safe to walk around at night. We paid 50 soles ($15.50) for a double room with shared bathroom but a bed in a dorm room was 20 soles ($6.50). The breakfast was also slightly better than average.

Where to eat in Huanchaco

There are a number of places along the main road by the beach which offer the standard set menu options which are great if you’re on a budget. One place that has incredibly good reviews and a lot of hype is ‘Surfer Burger’ which we found a little disappointing - alright but nothing special. Our favourite place by far was the restaurant of the hostel ‘Moksha Yoga & Surf’. They served up really good value and very tasty veggie and vegan dishes along with a good ‘special’ option for only 10 soles ($3.10)!

I have no interest in surfing, should I go to Huanchaco?

In short, no. The beaches further north in Peru around Mancora are much nicer and the weather is more reliable.

However we have heard really good things about Otra Cosa a volunteer program based in Huanchaco that we looked at doing before realising that we didn’t really have time. If you fancy staying somewhere for a while doing some environmental or English teaching based volunteer work then check out their website for more details. They also offer cheap Spanish lessons for those of you wanting to improve whilst volunteering.

Thanks for reading, we hope this is useful!

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