Huanchaco and Mancora beach towns: Peru’s North coast

Peru’s coast is a desert, with nothing but sand and bleak emptiness between the cities.

terrain northern peru
From the window of my bus from Chiclayo to Mancora

The string of pleasant beach towns dotted along it are very popular, thanks to the low rainfall and year-round sun, teamed with (what I’m told is) great surf.

I started my journey through Peru in Lima and was heading north to Ecuador, so I did not visit any towns on the south coast.

I stayed in Huanchaco for two weeks at Surf Hostel Meri, and in Mancora at Loki Del Mar for three nights, which perhaps suggests the difference in atmosphere in the two towns! Most travellers I spoke to had a similar plan.

Huanchaco is a quiet, sleepy place, famous for the pier

Huanchaco sunset pier Peru
Huanchaco sunset

and the fishing boats made from reeds that line the beach

Los caballitos de totora Huanchaco
Los caballitos de totora in Huanchaco

The town is not the prettiest beach town I’ve seen. Lots of the buildings are one story ‘boxes’ but some houses are charming in their own way

Huanchaco Peru

and there are several leafy parks. The graffiti

grafitti huanchaco peru

that covers the town makes Huanchaco distinctive.

Visitors and inhabitants alike tend to gravitate to the seafront, where the majority of restaurants, bars and hostels are to be found. It is worth, however, heading into the town and up the hill to see the pretty church

Huanchaco church

and the view out to sea across the rooftops.

There are lots of ruins around Huanchaco, which make good day trips. I took a collectivo to the huaca de la luna, just outside Trujillo.

Huaca de la luna

huaca de la luna

The site is a series of temples built one on top of the other by the Moche culture, approximately 1500 years ago. The fantastic wall paintings have been preserved under the layers of adobe bricks, and archeologists are still excavating the huge site.

Time moves really quickly in Huanchaco. A lot of travellers I spoke to were staying put for a while, many taking surf lessons or Spanish lessons. I enjoyed my really chilled out hostel

Meri Surf Hostel Huanchaco
Patio at Surf Hostel Meri

I read lots, went to the beach, worked on my blog, and ate fantastic ceviche everyday. It was only when I left that I realised how long I had been there.

After a quick stop in Chiclayo, I continued north to party town Mancora. As I mentioned in my review of Loki hostel where I stayed, there is not much to do in Mancora. You go for the partying, the fantastic weather and the beach

Mancora sunset
Mancora sunset

but Loki’s pool is so nice that it was hard to drag myself to the sea! I had to make myself leave the hostel walls every now and again.

One excursion outside of Loki took us to a natural spring. We went by mototaxi

Mototaxi Peru

In a mototaxi with one on the back!
In a mototaxi with one on the back!

to a boiling hot pool in the middle of nowhere

DSCN0421[1]

where we joined some locals who were having a soak. The water bubbled and the mud at the bottom was good for your skin – apparently – so we smothered it on our faces!

mud bath mancora

I enjoyed a lazy few days in Mancora, laying on a sun lounger at my hostel all day

Loki Mancoraoccasionally taking a dip in the pool to cool off, and partying at night. My time in Mancora was like a holiday from travelling, but three nights was enough!

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