If the name Peru Beach strikes you as a place unlikely to exist so close to the city of Buenos Aires, you might be surprised to learn about Peru Beach Sporting Club, a water sports mecca that quietly flourishes on the banks of the River Plate in Zona Norte.
Combining “sports and fun with a solid service infrastructure”, the club was set up over 20 years ago and has since firmly established itself as a favourite destination for infrequent day-trippers and regular sportsmen alike. But occupying a slice of murky riverbank starting 300m from the water’s edge and extending 100m out across it, don’t come expecting to find white sand, rock-pools and surf.
Two ways of getting there offer either the more scenic or the non-scenic route. The non-scenic route starts from Retiro station, where you simply hop on a train heading towards Tigre. Trains run regularly, every ten minutes, and a return ticket costs a hardly unreasonable sum of $2. After about half an hour, you reach a stop called Acassuso, and from there it’s a 15 to 20 minute walk straight down Peru street to “the beach”.
The more scenic route requires taking either a bus or a train to connect with the Tren de la Costa, which leaves from Maipú station on the outskirts of the city. Tickets are slightly more expensive at $32 return but it’s worth it for the view of the water and, most importantly, the fact that the train drops you at Barrancas station, right next door to the complex.
Admittedly, it’s not the simplest of journeys, and the logistics of taking a family there on a hot summer’s day could make the experience taxing to say the least, but once there you’ll find it worthy of the effort.
The wide range of facilities onsite includes a gym, several Astroturf football pitches, hard tennis courts and a covered roller hockey pitch, and although it’s a club, there’s no membership fees and pitches can be rented by the hour making it an attractive option for casual visitors.
A skate school offers lessons in a custom-built skate park for $60 per hour including the use of a helmet and board, but if you already know your stuff, the park opens on weekends from 1pm to 5pm and passes cost $20. Adjacent to the school sits an impressive climbing wall that spans 10m across and stands 20m tall. With over 70 possible routes to the top, is advertised as the country’s most important, but for many, the main pull of Peru Beach is being out on the water.
On a recent Thursday, a good number of people, aged between 14 and 40, were out on the water windsurfing and kite surfing solo or under the guidance of expert instructors. A popular activity even in miserable rainy weather, you can take five-hour windsurfing courses in groups of up to four people, or eight-hour kite surfing courses alone or in a pair. The prices for windsurfing decrease from $500 for an individual, to $400 each for two people, $350 each for three, to as little as $300 each for four, making it an ideal group activity, whereas you can expect to pay as much as $1600 for a private kite surfing course, dropping to $1100 each if you can convince a friend.
Anyone keen to explore the banks of the river under their own steam can choose to hire kayaks at a cost of $50 per hour for a single, or $70 per hour for a double. But don’t underestimate the popularity of these more laid-back activities. Plenty of people take to the water while their friends or family are out chasing an adrenaline rush, so Leandro, a windsurfer and resident instructor at the school, advises booking in advance when the weather is good.
You’ll find the food limited but reasonably priced, and with a menu mainly consisting of standard bar snacks like salads, sandwiches and milanesas, as well as ice creams and smoothies, you can eat there for about $35. The bar offers a selection of cocktails that can be enjoyed from a deck chair on a warm summer evening, or simply sat on the grass overlooking the water.
The atmosphere, part bar/part café/part viewing platform, was relaxed and easy on a rainy day with the indoor seating areas providing welcome shelter from the cold. True to their promise, the service was also good and the staff friendly.
Whilst Peru Beach wasn’t specifically designed with families and young children in mind, it certainly fares well with them. But if you’re going in search of a typical seaside experience you’ll be disappointed for several reasons. Firstly, despite calling itself a “beach”, you won’t find yourself by the sea, secondly there’s no sand, and lastly you can’t swim.
Expectations aside, that’s not the kind of experience Peru Beach caters for. Very much an oasis of extreme sports in a place that would otherwise be anything but extreme, something among the range of activities on offer is enough to set even the most hardened of adrenaline junkies’ hearts racing. And for those more inclined to spectate than join in, it’s also a peaceful place to spend an afternoon free from the hustle and bustle of the city: cocktail in one hand, book in another.