Máncora and Las Pocitas – North Coast
Máncora is one of the most northernmost surfing destinations in Peru. Northern Peru has the advantage of year-round surfing and incredibly long waves. You’ll find optimum conditions here from December to April, which is the hottest season for Peru’s northern coast.
Máncora has an established reputation as a surfing mecca and a party town. Many of the visitors to Máncora are from Peru or neighboring countries. This town has lots of restaurants to choose from – try any dish that features a local favorite, yellowfin tuna.
Deep-sea fishing is another popular activity in this area, so book a tour if you have a couple of days to spend in the area.
When you come to Máncora, you can definitely expect a few crowds on the weekend. For a less crowded surfing option, visit the beach at Las Pocitas, a small beach town that’s just south of Máncora.
Huanchaco – North Coast
Just slightly north of Trujillo, you can visit the ancient fishing village of Huanchaco. For centuries, local fishermen here have made fishing boats out of reeds. There are few fishermen who still eke out their living solely from the ocean, but you’ll still see the narrow reed boats lining the beaches.
Instead of boats, an increasing number of surfboards have taken to the waves. These waves are accessible for every level of surfer, and the beach has consistently good surfing conditions.
On the beach, you’ll probably spot some crabbers pulling up their traps. Follow them to a beachside restaurant. Huanchaco (and northern Peru in general) is known for its fat crabs. Peruvian crabs (called cangrejos in Spanish) are usually cooked up in a soup with briny seaweed, and maybe an egg.
Trujillo – North Coast
Trujillo has long, excellent waves, similar to the conditions you’ll find at Máncora and Huanchaco. Trujillo’s beaches are also near some of Peru’s oldest archeological ruins, like the ancient city of Chan Chan.
Ceviche supposedly originated in Trujillo, first developed by the ancient Moche people that lived in modern-day Trujillo. This dish of raw fish marinated in citrus juice is universally loved all over Latin America. It comes with fat kernels of roasted corn and slices of sweet potato, to give this light dish a hearty backbone. If you’ve ever had it before, rest assured – you haven’t tasted it until you’ve tried it on Peru’s Pacific coast.
The Moche probably settled in this area because of the abundant fishing. While you’re here, try ceviche mixto, a ceviche made from a mix of different seafood – it usually includes white fish, scallops, and octopus.
La Herradura – Lima
La Herradura is one of the easiest surfing beaches to access along Lima’s coast. This beach doesn’t have the most challenging waves, but the beach is excellent for getting a load of hip, young Peruvians catching the waves.
Peru has its own version of ceviche called tiraditos. Instead of allowing the fish to marinate in citrus juice, chefs in Lima drizzle the citrus juice on the fish just before serving. Sushi lovers will want to eat this dish every day.
You’ll find ceviche everywhere in Peru, but tiraditos is more commonly found in Lima, the cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse capital. Tiraditos is part of a style of cuisine called nikkei, which combines Peruvian and Japanese cooking styles. It’s an increasingly trendy cuisine, although it’s still difficult to find the real thing outside of Lima.
San Gallán Island – Paracas Reserve, South Coast
San Gallán is an island off the coast of the Paracas Reserve, which is a wildlife reserve in southern Peru. To get to the island, you’ll hire a boat from the reserve. This beach offers a little peace and quiet, away from the flashy resorts and the clink of dainty pisco sours. You won’t find many surfers to compete with for the waves, which are strong year-round. They’re also fairly large, and suitable only for experienced surfers.
While you’re surfing, you’ll probably see a good variety of water birds, including Humboldt penguins, flamingos, diving petrels, and blue-footed boobies.
The water temperatures here are usually in the 50s and 60s, so surfers wear wetsuits. If you’re feeling chilly at the end of the day, slip out of your wetsuit and into a steaming bowl of chupe de camorones. Chupe de camarones is a shrimp chowder, and one of Peru’s top comfort foods. It’s made with potatoes, spicy ají peppers, cheese, and evaporated milk.