The travel adventures of Robbie Mamo

Punta Hermosa

Punta Hermosa

Only spending one night in Lima this time around, I got an early morning taxi to the popular beach town of Punta Hermosa which is located 1 hour South of the city. Knowing that this was the final destination of my trip from Mexico to Peru and wanting to make the most of what time I had I decided to travel by taxi. I paid 120Sol/$40 for the taxi from Lima but I had heard of people paying a lot more. I arranged my taxi through The Point Hostel where I was staying and they set me up with a reputable driver.

Anyone that has experience travelling in Peru, will tell you that you should always go through a reputable taxi service or driver. This is one of the most common ways to get ripped off in this country. Every year countless tourists are taken by surprise and left with nothing or paying way too much because they got in the wrong taxi. Always negotiate a price before you get in the car and if you are unsure of the driver or taxi company keep your bags with you and out of the locked trunk.

If travelling by bus you have to take the Lima – San Bartolo #16 or #18 Bus that runs along the Panamerican South highway. This costs 4.50Sol/$1.50 each way and will drop you off at the side of the highway that runs through the town. From there you can either take another micro bus, taxi or tuk tuk to where you need to go. The bus trip takes 1.5 hours so it isn’t that much longer than a taxi and a lot cheaper. Travelling with boards short distances in Peru can sometimes be a hassle so make sure this is an option.

The town…

Punta Hermosa is considered the most popular beach in the province of Lima. Only 1 hour from the city, it is a great choice for people living wanting to leave everything behind and take in the sun, sand and surf. Often times when Lima is cloudy(which is most of the Winter season) you can count on nice weather in Punta Hermosa. In the Peruvian Summer it is also the nearest place to travel to for a break from the sweltering heat in the city.

Being so close to Lima it’s also very crowded on weekends all year round and all the time once high season arrives. Punta Hermosa is where the cities elite have their beach homes and condos. This is obvious when you look at all the gated communities and guard shacks leading into the developments here. Up until recent this was only a seasonal resort town but it is now being developed into a place that is home to many full time residents.

The town itself is situated on an upper level that surrounds the bay and main beach.  A large concrete wall wraps around the main beach area and steps lead down from the esplanade towards the sand. The central area of the town is open to anyone and this is where most of the restaurants and shops are located.

The North end of town where new developments overlook the sea. In the distance is Senoritas which is the most consistent wave in the area.

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This town is 100% tourism and a good amount of that tourism revolves around surfing. There are lots of board shops here to get whatever you need to keep you in the water at the many breaks here. The larger board shops are located on the main highway leading into town from Lima and have a huge selection of new and used boards with reasonable prices.

The shops are what you would expect in any beach town. Closer to the center of town you have higher end boutiques and souvenir shops and as you walk outward from the main square you have shops selling typical beach items.

The main road leading into town is lined with board shops and restaurants.

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Tuk tuk’s are always waiting to take you around to where you need to go.

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Where to stay…

Before you leave for Punta Hermosa, it is a good idea to make arrangements for where you are staying in advance. Most of the residential areas of the town are in private gated communities and you have to get cleared to enter. This simply means knowing the address of your destination. Being a tourist arriving at the gate in a taxi isn’t something that will cause you to be given a hard time by the guards in most cases. That being said,  you also can’t just wander around and window shop where you are going to stay as many of the surf camps and hostels are within these gated areas.

I stayed at My Surf Camp Peru which is an all inclusive camp owned by an old friend Victor Kufat. Victor and I first met when he was living in Toronto and became a member of the Great Lakes surfing community. Living in Ontario and being an avid surfer from Peru he was interested in keeping up with his favourite sport while living in Canada. After a short stay in Toronto he moved back to Peru and we stayed in contact.

Once he returned back to Peru, he fulfilled his dream of opening a surf camp and this has been a great success for him. He operates the camp out of his home which he has converted into a small lodge. There are 3 packages available with weekly rates starting from 1, 180 000Sol/$380 per week for the basic all inclusive package. This includes a two way shuttle from Lima, meals, a daily surfari and group surf instruction. With this package equipment rentals are extra. The second option is 1, 807 000Sol/$580US and in addition to what is provided with the basic package you get equipment rentals and either 1.5 hours of surf instruction or 2 hours of private Spanish lessons.

They also have a backpackers rate which only includes lodging in a shared dorm room for 40Sol/$13.

All guests in the all inclusive packages stay in a private room and all showers have hot water. The food here was really good as Victors mother cooks up a storm. What you eat here is tradional Peruvian home cooked meals that are typical of what a family would commonly eat. This was very authentic and each meal was delicious.  Being that this is an all inclusive surf camp the meal times are set. Any time you are doing your own thing and won’t be able to eat at the meal times you just let Victors mom know and she will set aside a plate for you to enjoy later. The one day we went on a surfari she was up at 4 am to make us a packed lunch to keep us going throughout the day. This showed amazing service and a real commitment to the guests!

Equipment rentals are also available if not included in your package. You can rent wetsuits, surf boards and stand up paddle boards on site and the rates are reasonable. These are available at a daily and weekly rate.

Each morning after breakfast we would load up our boards and hop in the van and go check the waves. One of the best breaks in the area called Senoritas is within walking distance of the lodge and this made it convenient for afternoon sessions. Depending on what waves were working the best we would usually take a short tour to the other waves and then decide where we wanted to surf based on the ability level of our group.

For those not wanting to stay at a surf camp the best option is the Punta Hermosa Surf Hostel which is located in the centre of town. This is a perfect location as it is close to the main beach, restaurants and shops. It is also relatively central to many of the surf breaks in the area.

This hostel has a really relaxed vibe and the owner Carlos is very accommodating and makes everyone feel at home. Room rates start at 45Sol/$15 per night for a shared dorm room with a shared bathroom. Single bed private rooms with a private bathroom are 60Sol/$20 per night. Double bed private rooms with a private bathroom and terrace are 120Sol/$40 per night. Two bed private rooms with a private bathroom and terrace are also 120Sol/$40 per night. They also have a very nice shared kitchen and a great terrace to relax on or have a few drinks with friends.

The Beach…

The main beach in Punta Hermosa can get very crowded and like any highly populated area of the world, it isn’t uncommon to be shoulder to shoulder with other beachgoers. In addition, depending on the time of day and the height of the tide there isn’t always a lot of area to set up your towels, chairs, umbrellas and whatever else you want to bring with you.

If you want smaller crowds then the neighbouring beach of El Silencio is where you want to spend your day. During the week is the best time to go and Saturday the crowds start to grow. Sunday is super busy here but because the beach is so big you can always avoid the crowds by walking further down the beach where there is lots of room to set up for the day.

This is considered one of the best beaches in the area. This beach stretches for miles down the coast and seems endless. There are lots of beach bars and restaurants set as far as the eye can see offering fast food and refreshments. The North end of the beach is mostly made up of beach resorts, hotels and  private beach clubs where access is limited. These are always pumping out loud music and in season the party never ends. The beaches in front of these places are open to anyone and you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas from a number of locations all the way down the beach.

El Silencio from above.

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The water here isn’t always the best for swimming and if it isn’t flat calm then make sure you are a strong swimmer as it gets very deep soon after entering the water and the current is very strong. This makes the beach better for surfing than swimming but there are better surf spots in the area. The beach break here is ok for beginners and the wave quality is usually sloppy.

Lots of open beach to find a place to yourself.

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Lounge chairs and bamboo umbrellas line the beach.

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Cerro Azul is another nearby option for enjoying what the coast has to offer. The nearby beach of Puerto Viejo has great restaurants, a pier and depending on the season you can get some great waves. It is a great choice for changing things up and has a funky vibe to it. The beach is located to the left of the pier and it is actually the beach that is talked about in the song “Surfing Safari” by The Beach boys.

Restaurants and shops face the palm tree lined beach in Puerto Viejo.

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The beach here wraps around the small bay that opens up towards the pier.

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Lots of boards are available to rent and it is most suited to beginner surfers unless the swell really picks up. When it does you can expect great surf!

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The pier is a great place to have a walk and take in the scenery.

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The Surf…

Peru has one of the richest coastlines in the world for having consistent surf for all levels from beginner to expert. This area of the country offers more wave options than anywhere else in the country and no matter what the swell height or direction you are guaranteed waves.

Punta Hermosa is located in the centre of what the Peruvians consider “The Miracle Coast’ and there are more than 20 breaks within 10km of the town. Many of these are within walking distance and depending on where you are staying you can wake up and be in the water in no time. This is what makes this part of Peru the perfect destination if you want to be in the water as soon as you land in Lima!

With Punta Hermosa being so close to Lima the waves can get crowded. Luckily the locals in Peru are really cool and you won’t find the localism as bad as other countries. Starting at the North end of town is one of the more popular breaks called Senoritas and as you go a few minutes down the coast you reach Caballeros and La Isla. These are the 3 most common breaks in the area and all within a short drive or walk from the centre of town.

Having Victor with us was great because we had his local knowledge to go by and he could forecast the best place to surf every day we were there. This was usually proven when we took our tour and saw what was happening in the water. During my stay we mostly surfed Senoritas, La Isla as well as Playa Caballeros which were the closest to town and were going off the whole time I was there. Senoritas was also a very short walk from our surf camp and we would usually do afternoon and sunset sessions here. Less than a 10 minute drive was Silencios and this was a calmer beach break. All of these broke over a mix of sand and rock.

As you go even further South you will reach Puerto Viejo which is also a beach break and located in Cerro Azul. Chances are if there aren’t any waves at Silencios then you aren’t going to find anything here either.

Looking down on senoritas you can notice lots of rocks in the water at most tides. This was our main surf spot and when I was there it was often the best choice based on the swell size and direction.

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One of the guys from our surf camp out in the bigger surf the one day. I decided to stay on the shore and watch!

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Surfari to Pepinos…

The second last day of my stay the swell backed right off and Victor told us a few days in advance that if the forecasts were accurate there wouldn’t be many waves in the immediate area. Our best choice would be to load up the van and go to a little known surf break called “Pepino’s” which is 100km from Punta Hermosa. A pepino is actually a small vegetable that is known as sweet cucumber in English.

Your chances of finding this place without a local aren’t very good so I suggest travelling there with a local. You will also need a capable 4×4 vehicle or an experienced driver to make it to the shore, especially if it is rainy.

To get there you have to first pass through San Vicente and then you turn right down a dirt road after you see the roadside fruit stands. After you turn you will have to pass down a heavily rutted out road that passes directly through a farm field. This was an adventure in itself and we had to take a few runs at it in some areas just to make it through the ruts and eventually got stuck. Luckily there were enough of us and the local farmers gave us a hand pushing through and we finally made it to the coast. The local farmers even loaded us up with fresh pepinos which we generously tipped them for in addition to helping us get our van moving again.

Once we reached the high cliff that leads down to the beach the road becomes steep and rocky and we decided to park and walk down the rest of the way. Getting down would have likely been ok but we had no chance of getting back up the rocky road if we had gone down.

Once we got in the water we had some decent waves but it wasn’t breaking as good as you know it would have been if the swell was more intense. Either way we had a great day surfing and it was an adventure in itself. One thing to watch out for here are fishing lines and hooks that are out in the water. The fisherman in this area just tie off their lines to stick on the beach and let them drift with the current. This was something to be careful of not so much for the hooks but getting in the way of the lines. It sounds worse than it was though and it was easy enough to stay clear.

Our parking spot high above the beach!

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The surf spot we had all been waiting for on a day when nothing else was breaking.

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The North side of the beach.

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Where to eat…

Restaurants are everywhere you look and as you get further away from the centre of the town that stems out from the main bay cheaper they get. If you want to eat near the water expect to pay atleast twice as much for the same meal as you would a few blocks away. The portions were also considerably smaller at these restaurants and I didn’t find them any cleaner or the service any better. I stayed at a surf camp while I was here so didn’t try too many restaurants but at a glance the menu items were similar to what you would find at any coastal area in Peru.

The one night me and the boys from the lodge went out to eat was at a place called La Esquina del Churre. It was overpriced and the portions were small but the food was excellent. The grilled octopus was amazing and the ceviche was above average.

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This was the last week of my 6 week backpacking trip from Mexico to Peru and it was a great way to finish my trip. I had lots of great waves, ate especially well with having Victors mom cooking traditional Peruvian meals and great weather to hang out in. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end my trip and like most trips I take I don’t want to go home despite missing some random things in Canada.

I would say to anyone who want to get some great waves, enjoy nice beaches and a seaside town then Punta Hermosa is the perfect choice. It is also a great choice for getting out of Lima and once there you have lots of other options for touring down the coast and exploring all the other beaches and seaside towns.

Gone on a whim…