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Though it remains somewhat under the general public's radar, Peru has recently become one of the world's top surfing destinations among surfing aficionados. It has 2,000km (1,200 miles) of Pacific coastline and huge possibilities for left and right reef breaks, point breaks, and monster waves, and boarders can hit the surf year-round. Northern beaches, especially Puerto Chicama north of Trujillo, and Cabo Blanco and other spots near Máncora, even farther north, draw surfers to some of the best waves in South America. There are also good surfing beaches south of Lima, though they aren't as spectacular as in the north, where the waters are also much warmer. The north is better from October to March, while the surfing in the south is good April through December and tops in May. The best surfing site, with webcams and reports on water conditions and the best beaches up and down Peru, is www.peruazul.com. Check out www.wannasurf.com/spot/South_America/Peru for basic surfing information and maps, as well as Wave Hunters for good information and surf tours to Peru.

Whose Board Came First? -- Surfing is generally thought to have its origins in Polynesia or the South Sea Islands, but several historians claim that men first hopped aboard things not so dissimilar to modern surfboards in ancient Peru some 2,000 years ago. Textiles and pottery of pre-Columbian, north-coast civilizations depict men cruising waves on totora-reed rafts (although they were more likely fishermen in search of dinner than rad dudes out looking for point breaks).

Tour Operators

Wave Hunters (tel. 760/494-7392; www.wavehunters.com/peru-surfing/peru.asp), a California-based organization, offers a surfeit of good information on Peru's coastline and celebrated waves, as well as different, inexpensive small-group surfing tours in central and northern Peru, including stays at Pico Alto International Surf Camp in Punta Hermosa. They work with a group called Octopus Surf Tours in northern Peru.

Pure Vacations (tel. 0845/229-0045; www.purevacations.com/south-america/peru/), based in the U.K., has organized surf travel since 1999 and combines northern Peru with Ecuador for 14-day surf trips.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.