Chicama – The Longest Left in the World

Dry, coastal desert surrounds the longest left point break in the world. Sandy, barren peaks make for an incredible backdrop while sitting in the water waiting for waves. A majority of Peru’s coast is dry and desolate. It rains only a few days a year.

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Barren & Beautiful. 

For that reason, there isn’t much to do except surf. Luckily we arrived just as a swell was hitting. We got to the hotel late so we didn’t get our first sight of the ocean until the following morning when the fog cleared. As we were sipping coffee and eating breakfast, we gawked at the clean, peeling wave in front of us.

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We couldn’t let it out of our sights. 

This lead to Arnie and I obsessing over the wave.

“Oh the beauty!” “That’s the prettiest wave I’ve ever seen” and “what’re we waiting for” were said often.

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It’s safe to say Alaina lost interest pretty quick. Our meticulous inspection and constant conversation would leave any non-surfer bored. It was a near constant topic of conversation that caused me to dream of waves. 

We adopted the simple, tranquil beach life. Surf as much as possible, read, drink coffee and spend time relaxing together. The constant exercise, good laughs and incredible waves made time fly.

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Cush life.

One of the great things about Puerto Malabrigo (Chicama) were the locals efforts to protect the ocean. This surf spot and many others have been made into a marine protected zone. We met a local restaurant owner who did his thesis in college on surf spots throughout Peru. All of the land (which is completely barren) surrounding the wave is now off limits. No construction is allowed and boats have limited access. The same restaurant/hotel owner also employs local single mothers working to support their children. It was refreshing meeting someone with so much drive for his community.

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Arnie surfin’ like a BOSS.

 

Overall, the people in Chicama are friendly and welcoming. Locals in the water would cheer and applaud a good wave. Walking down the street people said hi and smiled. It was a friendly atmosphere with good vibes prevailing.

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Backside is tough. 

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A Word on Surfing in Ayampe

The Ayampe surf life is simple. Eat, breathe, and ride waves. Most of the population has moved there in order to have consistent access to the warm, turquoise beach break. The small town public conversation usually revolves around the swell that’s supposed to be coming within the next few days or how damn good it was yesterday.

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Every sunset was a different color in Ayampe. 

The surf culture in the states usually has a stigma of being “broey“. This is not the case in Ayampe. Acceptance is as warm as the water. “Que tal” and thumbs up is what you see most in the lineup. Drop in on someone’s wave and they may get upset but they won’t be screaming or beating on you (I’ve heard horror stories in California). Take off on the biggest wave of the set and you’ll hear hoots and hollers of joy as you fly down the line. It also helps that the beach is over a mile long with breaks all along it. There’s plenty of room for everyone.

As with any other beach break, the shape, consistency, and size of waves varies. From low tide to high tide, there’s anything from barrels to sloping wide open faces. I quickly had to get in good surfing shape, because battling against seemingly never ending white water requires endurance. The reward of catching a wave after using your last ounce of strength is worth it.

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Surfing is notorious for its highly devoted clientele. A question I often hear from non-surfers is “why is it so addicting?”. I think the answer is simple; reward. Anyone who has tried to learn to surf understands how difficult the sport is. When you finally stand up on a wave, or learn the turn you’ve been attempting for weeks, exaltation abounds. Once that feeling courses through your veins, all you want is more. It sounds like a drug because it can become one. For this reason, you’ll find locals who have carved out a life in Ayampe in order to paddle out every day they can.

The unique combination of good waves and severe lack of tourism surprised me. The stretch of beach over a mile long only had a few people on it the first week we arrived. Obviously, as the holiday season kicked in, the crowds increased, but nothing compared to the popular town of Montañita just to the south. Ayampe served as a quiet haven, secluded from the usual rush of tourists during the holiday season.

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The Ayampe lifestyle. 

The culture and beauty of Ayampe cannot be understated. From the incredible sunsets, to welcoming community, it is a wonderful place.  With a wide open beach that catches any swell, the waves are ever-present. It’s an underrated surfers paradise tucked into the coast of Ecuador that I won’t forget.