Pico Alto in Peru – a big wave that definitely deserves a mention

Pico Alto is a well-known big wave spot in Punta Hermosa, Peru, 43 kms from Lima airport. Perhaps not the biggest big wave, but certainly one of the longest – if not THE longest.

It’s an epic wave, about a mile from shore whose bottom bares a similarity to Maverick’s and Jaws, as the swells come from super deep water and are tripped up on a shelf, creating a super thick peak with heaps of power which makes it suitable for pros and kamikaze surfers.

This wave (andersonreisfilmes) never closes out and the bigger the wave the longer the ride… its direction is both right and left and has flat rocks with sand underneath although, as the wave is so far out, there is an unlikely chance that you can hurt yourself. It’s hollow, fast and powerful and starts working at 3 – 3.5 metres and holds up well to 5m and over. There are dangerous rips and undertows but the bonus is there are never any crowds – in fact it is always pretty well empty. Perfect!

The challenge on this wave is that because it is so far out it is difficult to get in position and to hold it which is one of the reasons why tow-in surfing was recently introduced. It is big, powerful and frightening so if you are not sure of your ability and fitness try out the wealth of other waves nearby before attempting this beast.

Billabong, who always have their finger on the ball, have realised the potential of this wave and have included it in their Big Wave World Tour competition (sommossa83):

You don’t have to tow-in to Pico Alto, you can also paddle out there. All you have to do is find the beach break ‘Playa Norte’ in Punta Hermosa and paddle out to the really obvious break (a 700 m paddle) – or go in at Senoritas for a paddle of about the same  length.

Whilst I’m in Peru I must mention that La Herradura is not to be sneezed at either:

La Herradura Beach - Surfing Beaches in Peru

She’s a classic wave right in the city of Lima making access a doddle – only a 20 – 30 m paddle in to the take-off zone. On a good day this left-break wave can reach 5m and is split into 3 sections, the one closest to the coast being the most tubular and the most difficult. It’s another wave for experienced surfers only, hollow, fast and long. It needs a solid swell and starts working at 1.5 – 2 m and holds up well to 3m +. It’s downside is, I suppose, its position and certainly its popularity – it goes from crowded to jammed at weekends. Hardly surprising as, despite its close access to the city, it is a beautiful spot.

And not just Herradura, there are plenty of other impressive waves in the Lima region: there’s Santa Rosa (pro surfers: pointbreak, powerful left, rocky bottom, 2 – 3.5 m), Penescal (pro surfers: pointbreak, poweful right with a tubular section, rocky bottom, 2 – 4 m), Punta Roca (intermediate, pointbreak, peaks left and right, 2 – 4 m), Puerto Viego (a wave for everyone: clean and perfect left ride that barrels all along the perfect sand bar. Beautiful surroundings and a great place to catch your first tubes)… to name but a few.

Peru’s coastline has so many quality surf spots within a few kilometres of each other that I could dedicate a week to this subject alone! I suggest that if surfing is your passion and you have not yet visited South America, then book your ticket now…


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