With such incredible natural diversity, travelers in Peru have the option to see everything from the breathtaking Andes, the adventurous Amazon, a wealth of historical sites, or my personal favorite – the gorgeous coast. In recent years, more and more visitors are discovering the beauty and relaxation that the Peruvian coast has to offer. The following are a few favorite spots and my own personal Peru vacation memories from traveling along the stunning coast.
From North to South
Visitors can get to the peaceful coastal town of Zorritos by way of Tumbes which is just 35km north on the Pan-American Highway. Although somewhat narrow beside the highway, the beach is quite beautiful with white sand and quaint boutique hotels along the waterfront. The town itself is extremely small and if you blink, you might just miss it as you drive by. We frequented some fantastic seafood restaurants here and spent several days enjoying the peace and quiet of the sleepy fishing village. A highlight in our stay was exploring the nearby Natural Sanctuary of Mangroves in Tumbes. About an hour drive from Zorritos, an inexpensively hired boat took us around the sanctuary where we snapped photos of thousands of birds, crocodiles in their protected habitat on the Isla de Aves, and had lunch on a isolated little island.
Traveling further south on the Pan-American you’ll run into the winding bay of Punta Sal. Yet another friendly tranquil fishing village, Punta Sal boasts rocky outcrops and crystal clear warm waters. The beach is expansive and since the surf is not ideal in this area, swimmers have open waters all to themselves. Numerous hotels and a couple larger resorts dot the shore. The actual town itself is not directly on the Pan-American so things are quieter here and pedestrian friendly. After several days of lounging on the beach intermingled with the occasional whale spotting, we forced ourselves to move on and continue south.
Although similarly located directly off of the Pan-American Highway, Mancora is quite different from its northern neighbors. This quaint little tourist town draws a lively crowd and offers great surfing. At night Mancora comes alive with several beach bars and dancing hot spots. We savored the beach during the quiet afternoon hours sipping a cold drink and waiting for sunset. A little ways from Mancora, but certainly worth a visit, are the two towns of Cabo Blanco and Lobitos. Cabo Blanco is somewhat difficult to get to but unique for its peaceful beauty and history. The town is world renowned for fishing as well being the location where Ernest Hemingway wrote one of his most famous novels, “The Old Man and the Sea.” The isolated Lobitos is accessible by way of Talara and most simply described – a surfer’s paradise.
Continuing south you will eventually come to Trujillo and the neighboring surf and fishing village of Haunchaco. Trujillo is quite large and has a great colorful Plaza de Armas and several nearby fascinating historical archaeological sites. In Huanchaco we enjoyed watching experienced surfers take advantage of big waves and fishermen along the shore making traditional reed boats by hand.
It’s impossible to mention the Peruvian coast without saying something about Lima. Although we’re currently in the middle of winter here in Lima with constant cloud cover, the coast in the city with its giant cliffs is still breathtaking. Several spots from Miraflores to Barranco offer great access to surfing, dining, and ideal views of the many paragliders floating off of the cliffs.
Continuing down past Lima several hours and you’ll find yourself in Paracas. A lively little town on the coast, Paracas is quickly gaining notoriety for its resorts, and easy access to all kinds of adventurous activities. Visitors can spend time tasting traditional pisco (a Peruvian brandy made throughout the region), racing around the desert in sand dune buggies, or hopping on daily boats heading out to the Islas Ballestas. A personal favorite of mine is the trip out to the Islas along with a quick stop at the National Reserve of Paracas both having abundant wildlife.
If you’re interested in learning more about travel options to the Peruvian Coast, contact one of our expert travel advisors!
Peru for Less is a group of travel experts who live, work, eat, and breathe all things South America. Their inspiration stems from a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity that make this continent so special.