Types of Girl about the Globe (GatG) – Beach GatG, History GatG, Surfing GatG
If you plan to visit Huanchaco Peru, this article includes my recommended things to do in Huanchaco
Huanchaco is a popular beach town in Peru and a good alternative to Trujillo, the nearby city, twenty minutes away. It’s quieter than the city and definitely more relaxed with locals walking along the beachfront and shopping in the colourful market. If you only have a couple of days, here are my recommended things to do in Huanchaco.
Huanchaco Peru was never part of my original plan but as always with travel plans, the best places come from recommendations of the people that you meet along the way. I was travelling down the Peruvian coast after backpacking in Ecuador and had planned to stay in the city of Trujillo. After meeting a fellow backpacker who explained its potential, “It’s a fishing village with a long beach and Inca ruins,” she had said, excitedly, we simply had to visit…
1. Surf (Or Watch The Surfers)
The coastline of Peru attracts the surfer dudes and dudettes, which was very evident whilst staying at the Frogs Chillhouse, (where I suddenly felt very old). We were surrounded by surfers and partiers in a place which seemed perfect for those wanting to surf. You can hire surfboards here and take lessons too. If you don’t like surfing just head down to the beach and watch others taking surf lessons instead.
2. Admire The Fishing Boats
What makes this place nice to visit is not just its long coastline or fab pisco sours but its quirky little boats, and traditional reed boats that are lined up along the beach. Huanchaco used to be a fishing hamlet and if you are lucky you may spot a fisherman battling along the waves with his daily catch. Called caballitos de tortora, seeing one of these was worth the overnight bus ride from Mancora in itself. Plus you can watch the surfers at the same time, whilst enjoying one of the sweet snacks from the street sellers.
3. Visit The Chan Chan Ruins
I love the name of these honey-coloured ruins. The Chan Chan Ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Close to the sea, you can walk through the pathways of this 700-year-old site. The largest pre-Colombian city in the Americas.
It was once the capital of the Chimu people, abandoned in the fifteenth century by the Incas. Detailed drawings of birds and fish adorn the maze of pathways which inch out to the sea. Because the walls are delicately made from a combination of sand, soil, and water, the ruins are now protected with a roof and scaffolding.
There are three sites in total which aren’t in the same area so we hired a driver to take us around all three. The entrance ticket costs 10 Soles and admits you into all the sites. Chan Chan was by far our favourite. We took a bus from Huanchaco along the beach to Chan Chan, the first ruins we visited.
* Check price, dates and availability: Trujillo City Tour with Visit to Chan Chan
4. Explore The Town
If you love decorative jewellery, head to the promenade where you’ll find stalls selling trinkets and souvenirs (including a mini reed boat to take home). You can also get your photo taken with the very approachable local man who is dressed in a traditional costume.
Although this town is all about the beachfront and its cute little pier, if you walk inland you’ll come across colourful fruit markets. Here you can mingle with the locals and not just the surfers and tourists. Take your camera at dusk to take a picture of the church which is lit up at night.
5. Eat Ceviche and Drink Pisco Sours
Turning down invitations to have a drink on the roof with people old enough to be my daughter (was I really getting that old!) we spent our evenings at one of the restaurants in town and enjoying the sunset with a pisco sour in hand.
There is no shortage of fresh ceviche along the Peruvian coast; the famous seafood fish which Peru is famous for. Just walk along the main road and you’ll find lots of restaurants offering set meals with ceviche and an Inca Cola. We had a fabulous sea view to accompany ours (along with a pisco sour or two).
Traditional reed fishing boats, ruins, and a cute little pier – what more could you need from a Peruvian beach town? I definitely recommend staying here instead of Trujillo. The only place which is worth seeing in the city is the Plaza de Armas. You can also visit Hilo Rojo, a non-profit organisation which provides education to children in poverty.
6. Spot Pelicans at The Beach
Did you know you can see pelicans in Huanchaco? It’s pretty cool to find them in their natural habit. Watch them eating and walking on the sand at Huanchaco Beach. You don’t get to see them everywhere, so I was thrilled to spot them.
7. Sandboard Near Huanchaco
You can participate in an adrenaline activity like sandboarding not far from Huanchaco and Trujillo. Laguna Conache is a popular spot for sandboarding. Ride the dunes and then swim in its beautiful lake. You can find many excursions that take you from Trujillo to Conache.
8. Watch The Sunset at The Pier
There’s no better place to watch the sunset in Huanchaco than the pier. It’s a lovely place to relax and contemplate the beautiful colours of the sunset. You’ll often see locals and tourists walking on the pier as well as surfers catching waves during this time.
9. Learn About The Moche People at Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna
If you love ruins, there are other incredible places to explore near Huanchaco. For example, Las Huacas del Sol (Temple of the Sun) y de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) are incredibly well-preserved huge Moche temples.
Most tours start with a visit to the museum, located a short walk from the ruins. It is an excellent place to see artefacts and learn about the Moche people. After the museum, you can also spot Cerro Blanco, a mountain of great spiritual importance to the Moche people. Excavation works are ongoing on Huaca del Sol; therefore, you can only visit the interior of Huaca de la Luna, but it's quite impressive.
Getting To Huanchaco
We took the night bus from Mancora, on the Peruvian coast and then a taxi from Trujillo in the early hours. The overnight bus cost the equivalent of $30 for a semi-cama seat and was really comfortable. There are buses and collectives which run from Trujillo to Huanchaco regularly. When you are travelling onward, buses also leave Trujillo to Lima, the capital.
Rome2Rio is a great resource for planning your travels as it gives you the costs of the transport and the websites to book them through. * Check transport options here
Staying in Huanchaco
$ – We stayed at Frogs Chillhouse which is now permanently closed. If you're looking for a hostel in Huanchaco, a good alternative here is ATMA Hostel & Yoga which is close to the beach. It's cosy, has mixed dorm rooms and you can practice yoga as well as surfing. Prices from £8/$10 for a bed in a mixed dorm room. * Check prices, dates & availability
$$ – If you prefer a hotel, Hotel Huankarute is 50 metres from the beach with a swimming pool, a bar and a seafood restaurant. It's a great place to watch a sunset. Prices from £36/$45 per night. * Check prices, dates & availability
Is Huanchaco Peru good for solos? Although I was here with 2 other girls I would say yes. You would need to stay in a hostel to meet others as I don’t know how else you could meet people here. If you love surfing, sunbathing and Inca ruins then it is a good place to stop. We stayed for 2 nights which was enough to see the town and the ruins.
Frequently asked questions about Huanchaco Peru
- Is Huanchaco worth a visit? Yes, Huanchaco is an authentic Peruvian fishing town. It’s less crowded and a true gem.
- Can you swim in Huanchaco, Peru? Yes, although it is a rocky beach. It is known as a surfing spot rather than a place to swim.
- How to get to Huanchaco from Lima? The quickest way to get to Huanchaco from Lima is to fly. The flight takes approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes. An alternative is to take the bus, which takes over 9 hours.
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