OUR Story

Peru’s first surfboards

For four generations our family has been living in Huanchaco. It all started with Antonio Urcia, a fisherman who brought the first ’totora’ (reed plants) to the village of Huanchaco. He used these plants to build traditional ‘Caballitos de Totora’ which are surfboard-like fishing boats. For thousands of years these ’Caballitos’ have been used by the Moche and Chimú indigenous people to navigate the ocean and ride the waves while fishing. We believe that this is where surfing in Peru has its roots. Santos Urcia, grandson of Antonio, has continued in his footsteps as a fisherman and is one of few people in Huanchaco still knowing the art of making a Caballito de Totora. He was surfing the waves of the Pacific Ocean long before the first modern surfboards arrived in Huanchaco. Together with his wife Rosa he started a family of 3 sons and 1 daughter.

Fishing with a caballito de totora traditional surfboard-like reed boat
Family history John Urcia

The start of a surfing career

Around 1990 the first surfboards began to appear on the Peruvian coast. In 1998, when Rosa and Santos’ oldest son John was 10 years old, he started surfing on a board borrowed from a friend. Soon he was hooked and was surfing every evening after school. Meanwhile, Rosa and Santos were out working and did not know about their son’s newly found passion. Only when two Brazilian surfers came to Santos wanting to sell him their board and wetsuit because they had seen John surfing without, they found out about his love for surfing. They headed to the beach and for the first time saw their son riding the waves. Seeing his passion they knew enough, and with the money made by selling artisanal handicraft at the local market they bought John his first board and wetsuit. When John saw his present, his eyes filled with tears of happiness. The board is still in the family as a reminder of how it all began.

Latin America’s best surfer

John’s younger brother Giancarlos soon joined him in the water, and together they progressed their surfing and competed in local and national surf competitions. Both brothers have been surf champions of northern Peru and both have won second place in national championships. When John was only 15 years old, together with Giancarlos he started his first surf school in Huanchaco. But they did not only teach their customers; they also started coaching their youngest brother Juninho Urcia, who at age 5 had just started surfing as well. Under their guidance Juninho Urcia soon became the best surfer of Peru and eventually even Latin America. Winning the ALAS Latin Pro in 2019 and being a 4-time Peruvian champion, Juninho by now is a local celebrity and an inspiration for many kids wanting to learn how to surf.

Juninho Urcia winning surf contest
Juninho Urcia of Urcia Surf School Huanchaco with family

The Urcia family nowadays

In 2021 John moved to Austria with his family. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Juninho took over the organisation of the surf school. His wife Esther is now running the Surf House and together they have recently started a family of their own. Giancarlos is currently teaching at a surf school in California and Rosa and Santos’s youngest and only daughter Sugey is a dancer specialised in the local Marinera dance. Rosa and Santos are living downstairs of the Surf House and are contributing to the family business by organising Caballito de Totora tours that are part of our surf camps. Our family is looking forward to welcoming you in Huanchaco and sharing our surf expertise as well as our rich cultural heritage with you!

Caballito tour

For thousands of years local fishermen have been using Caballitos de Totora (reed surfboard-like boats) to navigate the ocean and surf the waves. It’s how surfing in Peru started! During our Caballito tour, Santos Urcia – father of Juninho – will show you how a caballito is made and will explain about this tradition that is still very much alive today. Of course you will have plenty of opportunity to try riding one yourself and catch some fish! Afterwards we will have a traditional Peruvian Ceviche lunch where we will prepare the catch of the day together. The tour takes about half a day in total.

Caballito de totora tour by Urcia Surf School in Huanchaco


After some days of intense surfing a massage can pep you up again! Massages last 1 hour and take place at our masseurs. Let your masseur know which muscles you prefer to be treated.


Start or end your day with a relaxing yoga session! The sessions take 1 hour and take place at the beach. Your yoga instructor will adapt the exercises to your level.


Our hearty and healthy surfer breakfast includes coffee or tea, yogurt, cereals, fresh fruits, bread, cheese, ham and eggs. 

We cater for vegetarians, vegans and or alergies. Please indicate this in the comment area.

Breakfast at Urcia Surf House

Spanish Lessons

Combining surfing with learning Spanish
If besides surfing you are up for another challenge, we also offer Spanish lessons as an option for all our surf camp packages. It’s not uncommon for the friendly locals of Huanchaco to start a conversation or give you surf tips while waiting for the next set of waves. Thus you can directly put your new Spanish skills to practice. What better and more relaxed way of learning Spanish than doing so while surfing?

Spanish Lessons
For the Spanish lessons we work together with Manuel, a local spanish teacher with a lot of experience. In 1-hour lessons in small groups he will help build your confidence speaking and understanding Spanish, so that in no-time you will be able to chat with the locals, be it in the line-up or at the bar. The first Spanish lesson your current level will be assessed and based on that the focus for the rest of the course will be determined. At the end of every class you will receive some homework to continue learning in between classes at your own pace.