Peru, hands down.
Ecuador; warmer water, fewer surfers per capita than Peru, lush jungle all the way to the water in many areas, US buck is the currency. Lots of places to stay. Possibly a more forgiving learning environment, but that’ll entirely depend on where you’re going. Buses work well; cabs/hired vehicles not as common. People are friendly; poverty is rampant outside of urban centres.
Peru; Colder water in central and south, 'bout the same temps to the far north, LOTS of REALLY good surfers, but for some reason it’s not hard to find an empty break; Dec 09 I had a well known point enitrely to myself, 5 mornings in a row, overhead and reeling, 1 week before Xmas. Food is MUCH better in Peru; some of the best you’ll sample anywhere around the world. MANY more historical/cultural sites to explore. Cost is similar, though easier to get decent flights from NA to Peru than to Ecuador. Buses work GREAT, cabs/hired vehicles easy to come by. Poverty prevalent outside urban centres, but in general the middle/upper class have shoe-horned their way in to alot of areas making travel/amenities a little easier. Strangely, the “lower” class is friendly, the middle/upper tend to be a bit snobbish.
Check the holiday schedule; if you’re going to be in either country over a holiday stretch I recommend you get your accomodations worked out for that period in advance; prices tend to double over a holiday weekend and availability becomes scarce. Peru in early December is quiet everywhere but Lima; AFTER the 25th, the coastline goes nuts; would be a no-go zone for me until end of January.
Lots of breaks in easy-to-travel areas in Peru work on NW swells. Many of the NW breaks in Ecuador are in tough to travel territory; predominant activity during your window will be NW; something to consider…
Forget about scooter rental; not available and not going to be safe in most of the zones you’ll travel to. Hire a cab for the day to get to more isolated areas; still way cheaper than renting a car (which we just did due to having a 10 mo old on th trip; 775$ US including insurance for 9 days; ouch!)
If it’s Peru, save yourself the hassle and cost of flying with your board and order one in advance from Klimax; makes great boards…tell him what you’re after, where you’ll be surfing, your ability level and size and it’ll be dialed up for not much more than 400$ US; send a deposit to insure the board is complete on time.Take your own fins to save bucks and be able to experiment.
Airfares from Peru to Ecuador are reasonable if you plan ahead; they’re high if you’re going last minute; I think if you get your tickets a couple of weeks in advance you’ll probably be able to dial in for less than 200$ each if you book with a travel agent in Peru. With less than 1 weeks notice it’ll be more like 450$ (ask me how I know this…)
Around Ecuador, the common buses are quite efficient and reasonable in fact. In Peru, I’d pony up for one of the nicer buses if I were doing a longish haul up north; for heading to the beaches south of Lima, hiring a cab from Lima would be a perfectly fine option; a worthy cost rather than going through the hassle of getting to the bus depot in Lima and then not getting dropped off exactly where you want to go. 50$ won’t get you far in a cab in NA; it’ll get you a LONG way in Peru. Hired driver for 100$ got us from Playas to Montanita in Ecuador, on our schedule.
Eat ceviche for lunch, not dinner. It’s all good in Peru; Ecuador not so much (awesome oyster ceviche there tho).
And yeah; bone up on your spanish…you’ll be in a bad way without it; ESPECIALLY in Ecuador; Peru def has a higher english speaking populace, but it’s still peanuts…