Mancora, Peru: A slice of heaven
January 1, 1970
by Christina Sterzel
Mancora, Peru is a small surf town situated in the Northwestern part of the country. It may be a bit more difficult to get to than some more touted places, but it’s definitely worth the extra effort. Whether you’re looking to enjoy some local cuisine, some great surf, or just a bit of rest and relaxation, this gem of a town has something for everyone to enjoy. My time spent here was some of the best in Peru and I can guarantee that I will be back in the future to soak up the unique offerings of this great location.
Test Your Tastebuds: Amazing Food on Offer
First things first, lets talk about food! This is the first thing I think of when arriving in a new place. Travel days often leave me feeling incredibly HANGRY, so a taste of local cuisine is typically at the top of my list for the first stop.
Local Food Carts
These are always my favorite for a quick and delicious treat. I know many tend to be wary of small food carts, but, as a general rule of thumb, I stick to the ones that seem the busiest and try make friends with the vendor. This way you’re bound to find only the best of the best in any given situation.
My personal favorites in Mancora?:
- Ceviche – I feel that I have to warn you, the ceviche that I had in Mancora ruined me for all other ceviche. I am now officially a snob and can only eat the freshest, most lovingly and deliciously prepared ceviche. Even then, nothing can beat Peru. The fish is caught fresh that very morning and is delivered into your mouth shortly thereafter. One serving was about 5 soles (around $1.5USD) and it was one of the best cuisines I’ve ever experienced.
- Juice – I had a knack for finding a juice lady (or man) in every city I visited in Peru, and Mancora was no exception. The juice stand just outside the market proved to be my favorite and I stopped there every day for a little refresher after a long morning of surfing. I typically went with whatever the best fruits they had for the day were, but there’s plenty of options for your tastes. Just make sure you remember the amount of sugar they like to add to things in Peru! Their love for sugar is like no other. For me personally, the sugars in fruits were plenty so I prefer they don’t add sugar, if this is you as well, make sure to specify “sin azucar” (without sugar) when you order or you may be in for a mid afternoon sugar crash!
After foodcarts, the market is the next must-do on the food-focused initiative. If you have the ability to cook for yourself at your accommodations, look no further than the local market. The market itself is pushed a bit back from the street, but ask anyone around and they can easily point you in the right direction. The market has everything from fresh fish and meats to all the lovely fruits and veg that Peru is known for! You can also make stops for clothing, household goods, and any other supplies you may need along the way, but my main focus is always the food! Stop at a couple different vendors and see what they have on offer and what looks best for the day. If you can’t cook at your place, then at least make sure to snag some fresh fruits for snacking as you pass by your day.
Being a budget traveler and also a lover of soaking up the local culture, I don’t typically frequent large sit-down restaurants, but there’s always exceptions. Mancora has a number of small local restaurants offering typical Peruvian foods. Stop in one of the open air restaurants and see what they have for the day. If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, I can recommend a few different varieties
- Antica Pizzeria was an upscale, beautifully designed and very large restaurant. We were lucky enough to be there outside of the busy season and were able to sit on the outdoor patio. If you are able to grab this prime spot, I definitely recommend it, you get the ambiance of the restaurant but also can people watch all of the activity constantly happening in the street. The food here was pretty delicious and we all split a few different pies to try out a wider variety.
- La Sirena d’ Juan is a nice little stop if you’re craving your standard cup o’ Joe. The place seems a bit “kitchy”, but they do coffee right well
- Monkey, for me, is the creme de la crème for those of us with a sweet tooth! You cannot go wrong with anything here if you’re craving a nice big sugar rush of deliciousness.
Now that we’ve gotten food out of the way, the surf is really the reason most people make Mancora a stop on their itinerary. For someone who had only tried surfing once before, this was surprisingly the perfect spot. While Mancora is known for it’s large waves and attracts some amazing surfers, on certain days, even though the waves are large, they are slow enough for beginners like me to try their luck on the board.
I was lucky enough to be staying at a place that was run by an amazing surf instructor named Pilar (seriously, find her, call her, surf with her!). Her and the other instructors were patient, kind and most importantly helpful! After only a few lessons I was actually able to stand and even surf a few waves! Practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged, but the waves here are great and I couldn’t have had a better time learning!
If you’re not into surfing, not to worry, just the small surf town vibe is enough to relax even the weariest of travelers. Grab a beach towel, and head to the shore to watch the surfers and the locals enjoy the best of Mancora, or grab a book and spend some time with yourself in a nearby hammock.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong here, Mancora offers a bit of love for everyone. It truly is a little slice of heaven.