Surf's up and sun's shining in Waikiki -- Peru

Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:06am EDT
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By Madelyn Fairbanks

LIMA (Reuters Life!) - Even by many of its own inhabitants, Lima is not known to be the most charming city in Peru, with its heavy smog and traffic, but just a stone's throw away is a surfer's paradise -- Waikiki.

Miraflores, an upscale neighborhood south of Lima, boasts its own Waikiki beach, named by wealthy Peruvian sugarcane heir Carlos Dogny who came home from Hawaii in 1942 with a board given to him by surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku.

Dogny founded Club Waikiki, helping build a rich surf culture in Peru which held its first National Surfing Championship in 1955 and first international contest the following year despite the roots of surfing in Peru dating back thousands of years.

This time of year, local surfers flock to the waves from dusk till dawn, bobbing like penguins in their black wetsuits beneath the constant gray skies of winter.

Luis Galvez, a Peruvian who has been surfing since the age of five, said he couldn't imagine living without the ability to take to the ocean for a surf whenever he felt like it.

"My life would be completely different," he said, shaking water out of his hair after a midday surf on Punta Roquitas.

Galvez, 20, surfs everyday alongside dozens of others enjoying their daily exercise, using the rocky shore as their changing room to shimmy in and out of their wetsuits.

But traveling surfers still tend to overlook Peru and go elsewhere for the waves.   Continued...

<p>19-year-old surfer Gustavo Swayne throws his board up after surfing in Waikiki beach in Lima, March 8, 2005. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares</p>