Surfing between Arica and Antofagasta

Surfing is all the rage in Chile. Even world champions Kelly Slater and Andy Irons celebrate the power of Chile’s waves.


Along the coast between Arica and Antofagasta the surfing boom is in full swing. These are the waves that must be surfed.

El Gringo
A world-class wave on Arica’s coast, the setting of a professional circuit of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP).  It is perfect with swells from 1 to 3 meters (3.3 ft to 9.8 ft)  high, and use of a helmet is recommended. It is known as “el Pipeline Sudamericano” or the South American Pipeline. Finding it is easy, but getting in is complicated.

El Colegio
Breaks over a reef of solid rock, in the waters facing Don Bosco College of Iquique. Consecrated decades ago as one of Chile’s perfect right-heading waves, it breaks with a rather larger swell, from 2.5 meters (8 ft), and supports up to 6 meters (19.6 ft).  The wave unfolds in front of the coast, right in the middle of the city, some 100 meters (328 ft) to the north of Cavancha, and it’s easy to locate and ride for surfers with a little experience.

La Cúpula (The Dome)
Perhaps the best wave in el Norte Grande. This is a left-heading wave, with a rock bottom, suctioned and with long pipes, located some 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) south of Antofagasta. Its defect is that it’s very exposed and the wind ruins it easily. Recommended for expert surfers.