Huanchaco, Peru: Chill Vibes, Rich Food, Friendly People
January 1, 1970
by Harmony Summer Hughes
Slacklining, sunset walks on the beach, perfect surf, local seafood, and chilled out vibes. No this is not just a list of a few of my favorite things. This is just a taste of what you’ll find if you visit Huanchaco, Peru. Huanchaco is, simply put, a tiny little paradise tucked away on the northern coast of Peru. Getting there is easy once you’re in Peru. You just have to take a plane or a bus to Trujillo, which is Huanchaco’s larger, dirtier, more hectic neighbor, then a taxi into Huanchaco. I personally took the overnight bus with Cruz Del Sur from Lima to Trujillo. This was a luxury for a budget traveler like me because the huge comfortable recliners are what would be considered first class conditions elsewhere in the world. Once you arrive it’s very simple to catch a cheap taxi from the bus station to Huanchaco. As you make your way through Trujillo you are probably going to wonder if you’ve made the right choice in coming here, but don’t worry, I can guarantee that you have. Once you make it to the cute little beach town, Huanchaco, you will understand what I mean.
First Impressions of Huanchaco
My first impression of Huanchaco was slightly marred by the thick fog that blanketed the town that first day. Once the fog lifted though it was like the city was reborn refreshed. At that point I saw the little town for what it was. Tucked up against cliffs of pure dirt, Huanchaco is a colorful vibrant oasis in the deserts of northern Peru. From one end of the town you can see all the way across to the other end so absolutely everything is within walking distance. The heart of the city is a long main street that runs along the coast separating beach from surf shops, restaurants, cafes and hostels. Everything about Huanchaco is full of life and color. The type of people that find themselves stuck there never wanting to leave are all artists, surfers, and small families. The surfers bring the chilled out vibes, the artists cover the streets in murals and the small families bring laughter and a playful atmosphere.
Things to Do in Huanchaco
1. Surf every day.
Huanchaco is the perfect place for anyone who wants to surf. First, there are tons of different surf shops and schools to choose from so you should be able to find one that works for you with a board and instructor that you like. Second, it is incredibly cheap to surf in Huanchaco. If you are wanting lessons you can spend about $12 on an hour long lesson with the cost of the board included. If you don´t need lessons you can rent a board for $8 for the entire day and surf as much as you want. These prices are incredibly low compared to the rest of the world so there is really no reason to pass up on the opportunity. Furthermore, if you intend to stay in Huanchaco more long term you can bargain for a reduced rate to rent a board for the entirity of your stay. The thing that made surfing in Huanchaco particularly special for me was that there were different types of breaks depending on where you were on the beach. This meant that more advanced surfers could tackle the towering waves to the left of the pier while beginners could learn on the small waves to the right. Depending on the day, the tide, the swell, one could choose the perfect spot to surf for their level of experience.
2. Watch the Sunset.
Huanchaco is one of the best cities I´ve found so far for watching the sunset. You have a few different options for places to be when the sun sets and they all give you a distinct spectacular view. The first go to location for sunset spotting is from the church. Huanchaco has one church that is all white with a very spanish feel that sits up on a hill behind most of the rest of the town. From there you can sit on the steps of the church and watch the sun touch down on the water way out at sea and turn the entire city into a whole new world. My second favorite spot for sunset watching is on the beach to the right of the peer. If you take a walk with a friend or alone for some solitude down past the pier on the right hand side and then head back as the sun is setting it is the most breathtaking thing you will see in my opinion. The light hits the water and the sand and transforms everything into a mirror that reflects the sunset in the sky. You won´t believe that what you are seeing is real life.
3. Treat yourself.
Huanchaco is an excelent place to treat yourself as a budget traveler. There are some really delicious restaurants and cafes of high quality that cost next to nothing. My top recommendations are:
- Coffee and your choice of pastry at Dulci Nelly´s
- A slice of decadent fresh mango cake by Monica
- A plate of the best sushi in the region at Umi Sushi
- The best breakfast in town at Meri´s
4. Try out the Peruvian Menus.
Aside from treating yourself to the decadent options I mentioned above, you have to try out the Peruvian menus to get an idea of Peruvian cuisine for incredibly cheap. The way a menu functions is that there is one set price that is usually between $3-5. With that set price you are given juice and are able to pick one from a selection of starters, usually soup or salad, and one from a list of main dishes. Everything on the menu is real Peruvian food and you really cannot go wrong with that. My favorite dishes are lomo soltado and chaufa de pollo but if you need recommendations you can also always ask the servers. In Huanchaco there are several places to get a good menu, but my favorite is Inka Surf. At Inka surf the portions are so big I actually split with my friend most of the times we went there. You really can´t beat that.
5. Play on the Beach.
My final suggestion for your time is to just have fun! Try to make friends in your hostel or wherever you are. People there are incredibly friendly and playful and will welcome you in easily. If you see a group playing volleyball on the beach, join in! Enjoy! Take advantage of the beauty of it all. If you come across someone slacklining between palm trees ask if you can try! Trust me if you do all of these things you will not regret your choice to come to this little town that became my love.