Are you passionate about surfing but cost conscious at the same time? While the ideal surf trip might be a tropical island (think Tavarua), these trips can be very expensive. Fortunately, there are many places that offer world class surf at affordable prices. Also, these places are safe for tourists and offer many of non surfing activities. There are many locations that fit this description, but Peru, Mexico and Portugal stand out among the rest.
Peru is known for many things from Machu Pichu to the Nazsca lines and everything in between. However, the land of the Incas, can also be described as the land of left point breaks. Peru has many quality waves, but Chicama stands out as the longest left in South America. Puerto Chicama is a small fishing village located about 400 miles north of the capital Lima. This might seem like a long drive, but the wave is definitely worth it. In fact, Peruvian Pro Surfer Cristobal de Col, broke a Guinness world record by completing 34 maneuvers on a single wave. Knowing this, you'd be happy making the half hour hike back to the top of the point.
Puerto Herradura, Peru
If Chicama is too far for you, there are many quality waves in Lima such as Puerto Herradura. Puerto Herradura, or horseshoe in Spanish, is a left point break located in Lima, Peru. Herradura along with other Peruvian beaches are a breeding ground for professional surfers and hold international competitions such as the 2017 Rip Curl Pro, which was held in San Bartolo. Since Puerto Herradura is conveniently located in the city, there are many cevicherias, or ceviche restaurants, to satisfy your hunger.
Peru's currency is the sol, or sun in Spanish which is now 3.3 Sol per USD. Peru offers reasonable prices with a pint of beer being less than $2 and apartments for rent for $200/mo. If you are a frugal traveler, it's possible to only live on $20 per day.
Mexico is known for tacos, narco trafficking, being the largest Spanish speaking country in the world and more! While it might be perceived as dangerous, there are many tourist friendly locations that are safe such as Mazatlan, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. Mexico offers world class waves located in Baja California and the mainland.
Due to its proximity to the US, Baja's world class waves are very convenient. For example, K-38 is located near Rosarito and is an excellent right point break. This point break is a relatively soft, making it ideal for long boarders and beginners. However, this point can offer up steep sections on large South swells at low tides for the rippers out there. K-38 is only 30 minutes south of the US border and there are many hotels that cater to foreigners. It can be intimating to drive through Mexico, making it important to buy Mexican insurance, drive primarily during the day, and follow the speed limit in kilometers.
Mexico's mainland offers many great waves located close to major tourist areas such as Sayulita. Sayulita is only an hour north of Puerto Vallarta and offers a variety of reef, beach and point breaks. This town is known for Punta Mita, a long right point break perfect for long boarding. These waves are soft, but more advanced surfers can enjoy steep, pitching waves at San Pancho. San Pancho is known for fast breaking waves that can force you to bail early to avoid shore break.
Mexico's currency is the Peso, which is currently 17 pesos per USD. Mexico offers a wide range of accommodations from dirt cheap apartments in remote location to 5 star resorts in tourist meccas like Cabo. However, Sayulita offers quality accommodations at low prices. Sayulita has nice apartments that can be rented for as low as $400/mo with most meals costing roughly $5.
Portugal is the westernmost country in the European union and is completely exposed to the Atlantic ocean, so there must be some good waves. Portugal has a variety of waves, but its most famous wave is located in Nazare. Nazare is a sleepy fishing village that has one of the largest waves in the world. Legendary surfer Garret McNamara rode a wave with a record breaking height of 100 feet in 2013. Other extreme surfers have tried to conquer this beast of a wave including Brazilian Maya Gabiera, who almost drown while surfing Nazare.
You might be asking yourself, "why are there huge waves there?" The answer would be the Nazare underwater canyon located just offshore. This Canyon is 16,000 feet from the ocean's surface, per the Portuguese Hydrographic Office, making it approximately 3 times the depth of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Because of the extreme depths, the swell hits the shallow areas, which allows the waves to become gigantic quickly. Underwater canyons create other world class waves such as Blacks Beach in San Diego, Teahupoo, Tahiti, Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii; the Cortes Bank and Mavericks in Northern California.
For those of you intimidated by large waves, Peniche offers great surf for all levels. Peniche is also home to supertubos, a beach break known for its perfect barrels. In fact, Rip Curl hosts the Peniche Pro every fall at supertubos. Peniche also has a great left reef break called Lagide slightly north of the main town. Lagide breaks similar to Windansea in San Diego and has a similar crowd to boot. Portuguese surfers are very passionate and can get very territorial, making it crucial to be respectful in the line up. Novice surfers can move down the beach to sandy coves that have softer breaking waves.
Portugal uses the euro, which is trading 1 USD per 1.20 Euro. This currency is stronger than Mexican Pesos or Peruvian Soles, but Portugal is one of the most affordable countries in the EU. For example, you can buy quality wine for only $4 a bottle. Portugal, especially Porto, is known for its large wine production, making great wine plentiful and affordable. You can rent a nice apartment close to the city for as low as $600.
Surfing in exotic areas and expanding your horizons doesn't have to break the bank nor be dangerous. There are many places that offer world class surf along with other activities at affordable prices. Peru, Mexico, and Portugal stand out as some of the best budget friendly locations. What other budget friendly areas have world class surf? Please share below!