Getting to Lobitos depends a lot on how you are arriving in Peru in general. Some people are coming to Lobitos from the north as they have been traveling south through Ecuador. Others have been in the southern regions of Peru like Arequipa, Cusco, and Lima and will need to travel a lot further. Read on and we will take you through all of the various logistical options in detail including a map of the important places to get you familiar with Peru. Once you’re there you are going to want to eat and sleep and surf so we have all the info you need for these aspects too.
Lobitos is a very small town in the far north of Peru on the coast not far from the Ecuadorian border. It has a pretty interesting history and now is often called a ‘ghost town’ because Lobitos seems derelict nowadays with abandoned buildings everywhere. Lobitos actually has quite an illustrious past as a port town servicing cruise ships to Europe and as a military base. But after a military coup in the 1960s put an end to these activities it is much more well known these days for its excellent surf.
How to get to Lobitos when you’re already in Peru:
From Cusco or Arequipa you need to get to Lima:
If you are in Cusco or Arequipa you will need to get to Lima by bus or plane most likely. Overnight buses in Peru are very common and can be comfortable depending on how much you pay. 70 Soles ($USD 27) or more will get you a decent seat but 100 ($USD 35) or so will get you a bed which folds flat so you can more easily sleep. Flights can be had for cheap too especially if you are flexible with dates and book early (4-6 weeks is good).
Once you’re in Lima:
Once in Lima you can choose to cover the 1100 km to Lobitos in two ways. Either,
- Fly to Talara or Piura: From Lima, you can fly to Talara or Piura on Peru Star, Latam and other airlines. Peru Star is a low-cost Peruvian airline with some good deals.
- Getting from Talara to Lobitos: From Talara airport you can get a taxi to Lobitos for around 40 Soles ($USD15). Also if this is too expensive you can try to get a collective for around 5 Soles but you will likely need to get into Talara township in order to do so. Asking your taxi driver to take you to the ‘collectivo’ will mean he will take you to the place where these leave. A collectivo is a shared small van that waits for the general public to fill it up and then it will go. Sometimes you will need to wait for people to fill the van in order for it to leave which may delay you perhaps 30 mins.
- Getting from Piura to Lobitos: Lobitos is about 130 km from Piura and you can get a bus to take you most of this distance to the nearby township of Talara. You need to get to the EEPO bus station in Piura (See the map below). They leave regularly every 10 minutes or so. Piura is a large town so you should be able to get most things you are lacking here if you have time. You are heading to the sticks to stock up now. From Talara you can get a collectivo, tuk tuk or taxi as described in the bullet point above.
- Once in Lobitos addresses aren’t really used as the streets don’t all have names so if your driver doesn’t know the place then you or he can ask for your hotel by name to a friendly local and they will more than likely direct you to the exact location. If you’re lucky like me you’ll get escorted by a friendly local on a scooter!
- Or take a bus to Talara: If you aren’t flying then covering the 1100km from Lima to Lobitos is quite an arduous journey taking two overnight buses perhaps over 3-4 days. While you can do this you will probably not enjoy it very much. It is actually a much better option to stop off halfway between Lima and Lobitos in the surf town of Huanchaco for a few days to surf, relax and break up the long journey. I stayed in Huanchaco for 3 weeks on my way to Lobitos and the surf can be very consistent and the town is quite relaxed.
- From Huanchaco, you can get a bus to Talara in about 10-11 hours. When in Peru I usually book my bus trips through redbus.pe or busbud.com.
- From the bus station in Talara Lobitos is about 17 km away. You can get to Lobitos by taxi, tuk tuk or collectivo from the bus station quite easily. If you want to take a taxi or tuk tuk directly to Lobitos this is possible and potentially preferable as you won’t have to wait for a collectivo to fill up before it can leave. A tuk tuk with cost you 15 – 20 Soles and a taxi more like 40 Soles. The road is quite rough so if you want a comfortable ride then take a collectivo or taxi as opposed to a tuk tuk.
- Collectivos to Lobitos don’t leave from the bus station but for 3 Soles a tuk tuk or taxi can take you to the place where the collectives do leave from. A collectivo is a shared private vehicle that waits for people to fill up the car before leaving for its destination. It can take time to fill up so if you are in a rush or it’s night time it’s probably best to take a tuk-tuk or taxi.
Getting to Lobitos from Guayaquil, Ecuador:
Most people will be coming to Lobitos from within Peru but if you are coming to Lobitos from the North after traveling South from Ecuador then you will more than likely be coming from Guayaquil. Form here you can get a bus to Mancora (a few hours north of Lobitos) which will take about 6-7 hours so no need for an overnight bus.
Once in Mancora, there are buses which leave every 30 minutes (from early in the morning about 8pm) from the EPPO bus station to Talara (See the map below). At the time of writing a bus trip with EPPO to Talara will cost you 7.50 Soles and take about 1.5 hours as it stops a few times along the way. You will pass through some oil mining areas which may be of interest for the geography geeks among you:)
Once in Talara, you will be dropped off at the bus station. From the bus station in Talara Lobitos is about 17 km away. You can get to Lobitos by taxi, tuk tuk or collectivo from the bus station quite easily. If you want to take a taxi or tuk tuk directly to Lobitos this is possible and potentially preferable as you won’t have to wait for a collectivo to fill up before it can leave. A tuk tuk with cost you 15 – 20 Soles and a taxi more like 40 Soles. The road is quite rough so if you want a comfortable ride then take a collectivo or taxi as opposed to a tuk-tuk.
Collectivos to Lobitos don’t leave from the bus station but for 3 Soles a tuk tuk or taxi can take you to the place where the collectives do leave from. A collectivo is a shared private vehicle that waits for people to fill up the car before leaving for its destination. It can take time to fill up so if you are in a rush or it’s night time it’s probably best to take a tuk-tuk or taxi.
Once in Lobitos addresses aren’t really used as the streets don’t all have names so if your driver doesn’t know the place then you or he can ask for your hotel by name to a friendly local and they will more than likely direct you to the exact location. If you’re lucky like me you’ll get escorted by a friendly local on a scooter!
Here is a map with the key transport options on your way to Lobitos:
All the info I know as well as where the spots are exactly, when to surf and how to get a wave all by yourself in Lobitos.
Lobitos has a load of left-hand waves (but 3 main spots) with small take off areas. If the swell is below about 2m you can expect the main point (referred to locally as ‘Lobitos’) to be competitive with multiple people dropping in on a wave. I haven’t seen localism except maybe a comment or an evil eye. Much better than the reports from Cabo Blanco and Mancora where I’ve heard the locals have been known to stop you from getting waves altogether.
NOTE: I have never surfed Cabo Blanco and Mancora but I have heard from other Peruvian surfers from Lima and Huanchaco that these places are bad for localism. In any case, Mancora and Cabo Blanco are more sheltered from the swell whereas Lobitos is more open so you will get more waves here anyhow. Perhaps the more freely abundant waves here means that supply is high and there is just more to go around. This could explain the more relaxed attitude here.
The other two points are less populated and a more relaxed vibe with people egging you on as you go for waves. Those put off by the numbers at main break might want to wander off to less crowded points or find a beachey all to yourself.
How to get a wave all by yourself in Lobitos
Early to mid-morning and late afternoon/evening are the most popular times to surf. The wind can get up into the 30’s (kph) between about 10am and 4pm (but is often still offshore) so most people are relaxing inside during these times. As with most places, the early early morning is the least populated. Sunrise is about 6am and by 7am you can expect a few people in the water. By 8am – 9am most people have stumbled from bed and hit the water. If you were in the water at 6am you could quite easily get 2 hours surfing with only a few people out. At main break at this time expect 10 or so. At the other two points expect 3 – 4 maximum.
Other than surfing early morning before the crowd has settled in I have noticed that there are very few longboarders here. I suppose for travelers they are more difficult to transport on planes and buses and the locals seem to be into short boards mostly. With that in mind there are a load of waves that the locals consider “not powerful enough” to bother surfing but if you rent a longboard (Hotel Relajate has several) or indeed have one with you then you can surf all by yourself any time of the day you want. You see in between the main break and the pier are a number of sandbars providing uncrowded waves all day long. Literally, I have seen only a few surfers even bother to paddle out in the 3 weeks I was here. On very big days this could be because there is a current here as water tries to escape the bay but on small days of 1m – 2m the current is not strong. Also, a good place to learn.
Swell size, consistency, and wind:
I’m here in November and December and the swell is super consistent and between 0.7 and 1.8 m on the bigger days. There hasn’t been a day you couldn’t surf someplace. This is a stark difference from Mancora and Cabo Blanco which as I mentioned are more sheltered and hence have flat spells for days or even a week sometimes.
That being said you will want to check the forecast for when you expect to arrive but rest assured whatever the swell size Lobitos has a wave for you.
Also, the wind is quite strong here and is almost always offshore. Sometimes its strong (25-30 kph) but the early mornings provide the least wind. By 10am the wind is picking up and by lunchtime if you haven’t surfed yet you’ll wish you had. It can quieten down in the afternoon before sunset but don’t rely on it.
La Bateria: This is an imposing looking left-hand point break when the swell is 1.5m and above. An advanced take off spot over rock and sand. Think steep, a big drop and fast. That being said you can get a mellow wave here when the conditions are around 1 m or s. You can walk at low tides from the main break but at high tide, this could be sketchy, especially on a big swell so perhaps taking the road back is safer. Here is a small video of La Bateria on a small day with about 0.8m of swell.
Main Break: Known simply as ‘Lobitos’ you will find the majority of people surfing here. It’s not as intimidating as La Bateria with but still provides the potential for long lefts and often tubes. There is a competitive lineup but there is room to spread out if you want to move down the point a little. Its able to be surfed on all tides.
Piscinas: So named after the rock swimming pool that is part of the point which creates this left-hander. Piscinas is less competitive and a less demanding wave. You will find learners here from local surf schools and intermediate surfers who want to escape the crowds of Lobitos main break. Surfable on all tides but it does have a pretty small take off zone which people huddle around right beside the rock point.
Various Beach breaks: In between the points, there are various beach breaks which you can try out. Depending on the swell size they may or may not be working. If it was 1.5m – 2m or so I would expect these to be an option but below this, you are really looking at surfing the points.
Note: These beach breaks seem to go un-surfed for most of the day – seriously barely anyone surfs these as they have less power. If you have a longboard or some other wave catching machine or simply want to surf by yourself then this place is free aaalll daaay loooong!
Forecast sites: Magic Seaweed seems to be the go-to forecast site around here. This will give you an indication. As mentioned elsewhere in this article, Lobitos is more exposed to the swell than spots like Mancora and Cabo Blanco so even when the forecast says 0.5 m you can bet you’ll be getting a wave in Lobitos.