Peru Traces Travel & Tours

Hot Springs & Beaches in Peru

Peru has been doted by nature with more than 3,000 km. of coastline.

Peru’s beaches link up, one after another, in an endless chain of natural scenarios and physical characteristics which delight travelers .

Some beaches are dusted with pure white sand, blown in from distant sand dunes; others are filled with thick grains of sand, which do not stick to the skin. Some are made of dark sand, pebbles, covered in mangroves or studded with prickly cacti. Tranquil seas lap some, while others are pounded by huge waves of staggering beauty.
Some beaches have been turned into modern ports or picturesque sleepy fishing villages. Others, meanwhile, have kept their pristine beauty and the enchanted air with which Nature endowed them thousands of years ago.

Peru’s beaches offer lovers of the sea many advantages, such as a stable climate that seldom sees rain; slight variations in temperature; beaches bathed by cold waters and others that feature warm waters; solitary beaches where dolphins and sea lions are the lone companions of the visitor; waves so long-running and perfectly shaped that they never seem to come to and end and, combining the right time and place, there is a chance of practicing water sports practically 365 days a year.

Recommendations

Accessibility

Several of the beaches along the Peruvian coast lack services for visitors, which for many is part of their charm. So when visitors travel to unfamiliar beaches, they should always bring enough food and water. Don’t forget sunblock and a light windbreaker for the afternoon winds, as well as plastic bags for garbage.

Driving

Do not venture onto dirt or sand roads unless accompanied or experienced in rough terrain driving. When driving on sand, let out some air from the car tires to avoid getting stuck in a rut.

Services

For those who are fond of their creature comforts, many beaches, especially those located near the big cities, feature restaurants and lodgings that are generally open from December to March. Visitors should bear in mind that these spots are packed with visitors during national holidays, so make your bookings with anticipation.

Stingrays

On some beaches, such as Paracas bay and some further north, swimmers risk being stung by stingrays, known locally as pastelillo. In these spots, the best thing to do is to enter the water dragging one’s feet, which frightens them away, or to use closed rubber sneakers. If despite taking precautions you get stung, the best thing is to wash the wound with plenty of soap and water, and then bandage the spot. While the effect of the sting varies according to the person and the size of the ray, the local solution is usually the most effective: to bury one’s foot immediately in hot sand or suck the poison from the wound.

Camping

Campers have a wide range of beaches to choose from. Excursionists are recommended to always camp in groups, especially when visiting remote or isolated beaches. The hundreds of fishing villages are good spots to rent boats and buy fresh fish and supplies, as well as for repairing outboard motors.

 

Lima

El Faraon

Just north of Lima lie several pleasant beaches. One of them is La Isla: at Km 190 of the North Pan-American Highway near the town of Puerto Supe, where a detour heads for the sea and runs down to a vast and solitary stretch of coastline. The locals call it El Faraón (The Pharaoh), as out to sea rears an island which resembles an Egyptian pyramid. Beach-goers often swim the 100 feet that separates the beach from the island, as behind it lies a lagoon where one can spend the day in solitude. For the hungry, there is the town of Supe, where restaurants prepare fish and shellfish dish such as cebiches, jaleas and parihuelas as well as the classic chicken-and-corn tamales.

El Paraiso

In the department of Lima, the peninsula and beaches of El Paraíso (El Palmero, Tilca Tocoy and others) meet all the requisites to do honor to its name (The Paradise): dozens of solitary beaches, a clean and tranquil sea, good fishing and bright sunshine during the summer. During the summer months, the beaches are visited by vacationers seeking peace and quiet and a beautiful natural scenario. Nearby to the north lies the lagoon Playa Chica, a haven for a variety of species of wildlife. The area tends to be windy in the afternoon. This spot lies between the saltflats Las Salinas de Huacho and the town of Huacho itself. To get there, one needs to take the detour at Km 135 of the North Pan-American Highway. Apt for all kinds of vehicles.

Ancon

Located at Km 38, this beach resort is lined by a zig-zagging coastal promenade lined with old wooden mansions and modern apartment blocks alike. Ancón features an interesting museum, the old train station and the chance to taste the traditional cebiche de pejerrey (mackerel marinated in lemon juice) down at the pier. Visitors in search of more solitary beaches can check out San Francisco Chico(on foot), San Francisco Grande (by boat, which can be hired at the pier) or the neighboring resort of Santa Rosa (by car).

El Silencio

South of Lima sprawls a series of beaches, including El Silencio, half an hour from the capital. After passing the Pachacamac pre-Hispanic temple and the whale-shaped island Isla de la Ballena, drivers head down a dirt track which leads to this U-shaped beach. El Silencio is one of the most popular beaches because of its clear waters, gentle waves, thick sand (which does not stick to the skin) and plenty of parking space and restaurants. There are no houses on the beach, but overlook the bay from the cliffs above.

Punta Rocas

Also just south of Lima, this beach is a hotspot with the surfing crowd. A small rocky outcrop dominates a sandy beach which stages national and international surfing championships and rock concerts. The beach also features seafood restaurants known as cebicherías.

Punta Hermosa and Punta Negra

These pretty Lima seaside resorts resemble each other in architecture, although with topographical variations: Punta Hermosa features three beaches and a small island just off the mainland; Punta Negra, meanwhile, is an open beach where swimmers should be careful. Both spots feature hostels and restaurants and are ideal for all kinds of watersports.

San Bartolo

The largest beach resort near Lima. San Bartolo is practically a small city whose beach is fairly stony and home to Punta El Peñascal, a beach made up of rocky bluffs with good surfing waves. This traditional resort town, lined with coastal promenades, also features a spot called El Huayco, which is visited year-round by the surfing crowd.

Santa Maria

Santa Maria is the most luxurious beach resort south of Lima, with buildings built along the cliffs and tiny beaches with little sand. The resort also features Embajadores, a pretty, half-moon shaped beach fringed with sand and which is at times engulfed by the sea. The sea here is placid and the shoreline flat, making it ideal for swimming.

Pucusana

Pucusana, a seaside resort and fishing cove, features an impressive 50-meter tunnel drilled through the living rock. Waves crash through the channel known as the “Boquerón del Diablo” (The Devil’s Mouth). Pucusana is an active fishing town, where dozens of boats bob on the calm sea, where gentle waves lap at the dark sand. There is plenty to see in Pucusana: a bustling pier filled with hungry pelicans, a hidden cove known as Las Ningas, and the tunnel formed by the waves, a phenomenon not found anywhere else along the coast. From Pucusana one can reach Naplo, a beach lined with fine houses and a calm sea. Pucusana also provides access to the only resort reached only by sea, Islas Galapagos. This towering island features luxurious residences, a small beach and a mirror-smooth sea.

Bujama and Chocaya

Near the town Mala (Km 100), in the department of Lima, and famous for its chicharrones (pork fritters) and cornmash tamales, lie two beaches: Bujama, with a flat, sandy beach and crushed seashells at the far end, with large beach cottages. The sea is tranquil and the beach barely slopes down to the ocean. A town lies close by, known as Caleta Bujama. The other beach is Chocaya, a flat sandy beach which features gusting winds and a rough sea. The beach is generally bereft of visitors (although with the occasional camper), while further south lie many more beach towns.

Chepeconde

Further south, at Km 119.5 lies Chepeconde, where cliffs jut out into the sea and there are mysterious interconnecting caves. The beach, known to some as La Barca, was discovered by camping enthusiasts two decades ago. Since then, it has become increasingly popular, and is now one of the most heavily-visited camping spots during the summer. The beach is made of fine sand, with a clean and tranquil sea. Cliffs split the beach into three sections, where the northern stretch is the most heavily-visited. Chepeconde is reached via a detour, at Km 120 of the South Pan-American Highway. Apt for all vehicles.

Cerro Azul

Located 131 km south of Lima down the South Pan-American Highway, Cerro Azul was once a bustling and prosperous port until May 1, 1971, when the Greek ship Chrysovalndov used its installations for the last time. An aging pier remains as a mute witness of those heady days, and today is only visited by fishermen and surfers. The beach, which features several hotels and restaurants, is dominated by the Centinela hill, which reaches out into the sea like a second pier. The hillsides still feature pre-Hispanic ruins which according to sixteenth-century Spanish chronicler Pedro Cieza de León, was once a light green color, but which looks blue (hence its name, Blue Hill) when spotted from the sea. The beach town is popular amongst campers.

 

South of Lima:

Ica

Visitors need to make an obligatory stop in Chincha (Km 202 along the South Pan-American Highway) to take the local bus to the town of Lurinchincha. From there it is a 10-minute walk to the beach of San Pedro, located in the department of Ica, where the sea peeps out amidst cotton plantations. Ancient temples known as huacas rear over the bright green fields, and pools of fresh water along the coast teem with clumps of junco reeds and white ibis. The sand is clean and the waves exciting enough to keep swimmers entertained.

Paracas: La Mina, La Catedral and Mendieta.

There is little doubt that Paracas features one of the most spectacular stretches of coast along the Peruvian shoreline. Here, the barren desert runs down to a deep blue sea, with sweeping beaches, towering cliffs and bluffs carved out by the waves.

This national reserve, which covers an area of 335,000 hectares, is one of the country’s finest beach destinations. Paracas -and the adjacent Islas Ballestas islands (a 1-3 hour trip) ideal for snorkeling, fishing, windsurfing, surfing and photography. The area teems with flocks of guano birds and sea lion colonies and is a haven for migratory birds and rare species such as the Humboldt penguin and wildcats. Visitors are advised to explore beyond the tip of the peninsula, where there are fantastic beaches. Just 7 km from Paracas, a stretch of sea has formed the beach known as La Mina.

The emerald sea is overlooked by a look-out point where one can gaze out over the sea lion colonies which live on tiny islands nearby. Just 14 km from Paracas, another dirt road runs above the upper reaches of the La Catedral beach, its name (The Cathedral) stemming from the bizarre shape carved out by the erosion of the wind and waves. From here one can scramble down and enter this natural dome which is battered by waves at high tide.

Also worth a visit is the Mendieta beach, 25 km from Paracas and in front of the Isla Zarate island in the heart of the desert. The reserve and its beaches are reached by a paved road from Pisco (at Km 24 of the South Pan-American Highway). Once past the roadside checkpoint, the route turns into a dirt road. At the nearby resort of Paracas and the beach at El Chaco one can find hotels, restaurants and boat rentals. Apt for all vehicles.

Puerto Caballas

First stop is Palpa, 398 km south of Lima, before driving two hours down a sandy track alongside the Grande River down to the ocean. Visitors should travel in their own car. Punta Caballas, in the department of Ica, has no running water or hotels, and only bread and soft drinks are sold locally. One can camp out or look for a spot inside uninhabited beach houses, the remains of a long-deserted beach resort. Surfers will find excellent waves which take a long time to break as they flow against the wind. Local fishermen provide mackerel, sea bass and shellfish.

 

Arequipa

Jiuay

The department of Arequipa is home to an unblemished beach with white sand, blue sea and which is bereft of beach houses. It is visible from Km 594 of the South Pan-American Highway. The upper reaches of the beach feature a great deal of abandoned terracing and the pre-Inca citadel of Ayparipa. North of Jiuay lies Champeque, with a lovely beach, ancient grainhouses and an island (Santa Rosa) teeming with sea lions.

Mollendo

Long the traditional beach haunt of Arequipa residents, Mollendo is a picturesque town lined with quiet streets and sweeping beaches. Those looking for less-frequented beaches, however, can rent a boat at the port of Matarani and head for the cliffs that separate Mollendo from Quilca. The virgin coastline features beaches such as Huayquiray, Arantas, San José, La Huata, Honorato and Punta Hornillos.

Mejia

From Mollendo, a coastal road winds down to Moquegua and Tacna, passing through Mejía, a pretty beach, not just because the town has conserved the old wooden houses dating back to the early twentieth century, but also because it lies in the middle of an exceptional landscape studded with vegetation and lagoons which teem with flocks of migratory birds.

 

Tacna

La Boca de Rio

Tacna’s only beach resort with tourist services is La Boca del Rio. However, a drive along the coastal road from Ilo crosses over reefs which give way to quiet beaches such as Las Gaviotas, with shingle-lined sands like the rest of the beaches in the area.

 

 

North of Lima:

Tumbes

Zorritos

If you’re looking for creature comforts in Tumbes, near the town of Zorritos lies Punta Camarón, at Km 1,233 of the North Pan-American Highway, where coconut palms hide a set of bungalows with a swimming pool and a restaurant, while the sea is ideal for water sports. One can also stroll along the beach to the nearby town of Bocapán, home to the Hervideros hot springs.

 

Punta Sal

For many the finest spot along Peru’s north coast, with sun and tranquility guaranteed year-round. Punta Sal is a small beach resort in the department of Tumbes (Km 1,187) fringed by sand dunes and groves of carob trees, and facing a semi-circular beach lapped by warm water and gentle waves which make for a welcoming paradise.

 

Piura

Mancora and Las Pocitas

Piura is home to the legendary beach of Mancora (Km 1,161) a favorite with the surfing set, particularly from November to January, when the best waves are to be found. Beach-goers who are not surf-mad head for Las Pocitas, a rock formation near the beach, where natural pools have formed, an ideal spot for a quiet swim. Vacationers fond of hot springs will find them at Quebrada Fernandez, natural thermal baths where hot mineral-laden water bubbles up from underground.

Cabo Blanco

At the town of El Alto (Km 1,084), a detour peels away through the cliffs, giving visitors superb views of the Pacific Ocean until it arrives at Cabo Blanco. This fishing cove in Piura is ideal for surfers, while the rest head for nearby Restín, a small beach which is protected from the wind.

Colan

Some 16 km north of Paita lies Colan, also known as La Esmeralda, one of Peru’s most scenic coves, where the houses have been built on top of wooden pilings by the seaside. Colan also features a small airstrip. Just 10 minutes away on a desert plain lies San Lucas de Colan in Piura, the site of the first church built in Peru, the work of Dominican friars in 1536.

Bayovar – Nonura

The beaches of Bayovar in Piura are Peru’s last virgin beaches, and without a doubt the most beautiful. Hemmed in by sweeping bays or white granite rocky outcrops which hang from the sand dunes, the area features a clear blue sea teeming with dolphins, turtles and flocks of seagulls. To reach these beaches, visitors need to take the detour at Km 886 of the North Pan-American Highway which leads to Bayovar and then head down the coast.

 

Lambayeque

Pimentel

Further south of the tropical region, sunshine is largely guaranteed from December to April. The department of Lambayeque is famous for its courteous and friendly folk. While not all the beaches in the area are apt for visitors, the beach resort of Pimentel, a stone’s throw from Chiclayo (770 km north of Lima), features sober architecture and a tranquil sea with good waves. The beach is lined with surfboards and “caballitos de totora” (traditional reed rafts) alike.

 

La Libertad

Chicama

This beach is home to the world’s longest wave, and is not surprisingly a surfing hotspot. The saying goes that to surf Chicama, in La Libertad, one needs a spare set of legs. The waves are spurred with the southern and western currents. This fishing cove, also known as Malabrigo, is reached via a detour at the town of Paijan, at Kilometer 614 of the North Pan-American Highway. Apt for all kind of vehicles.

Huanchaco

Huanchaco lies 11 km northwest of Trujillo, and is popular amongst backpackers and nightowls. The caballitos de totora line the shore at sunset in this traditional fishing cove. Half an hour south of Trujillo lies Puerto Mori, a quiet, leafy town renowned for delicious local dishes such as Cangrejo Reventado (boiled crab) and Sudado de Chita (steamed fish). The town overlooks the beach of Cerro Negro.

 

Ancash

Tortugas and Rincon de Piños

At Km. 395 of the North Pan-American Highway lies this splendid bay of turquoise waters and beach houses of the Tortugas resort in the department of Ancash. Just 10 minutes from Tortugas, down a dirt road, one finds the Rincon de los Piños, a beach with curling waves in front of the La Viuda island. The island earned its name, La Viuda (The Widow), after the frigate Mercedes sank off its cliffs in 1852, drowning 1,200 soldiers, including the ship’s captain, whose wife survived the tragedy.

 

THERMAL SPRINGS:

Peru also offers an ample choice of thermal water and medicinal springs scattered throughout its territory. Some of them are: Monterrey, in Ancash, Yura, in Arequipa; the Inca’s Baths, in Cajamarca, Churin, in Lima and Aguas Calientes, in Cusco.

MONTERREY

5 km from Huaraz city
Chloride and sodium waters – 44ºC. Credited with having curative properties for rheumatic diseases, digestive disorders and other ailments.

YURA

30 km from the city of Arequipa
Sulphurous, alkaline and ferruginous thermal springs.
Recommended for diverse diseases, such as digestive, rheumatic and skin ailments.

INCA BATHS AND LAGUNA SECA RESORT

6 km from the city of Cajamarca
Mineral springs recommended for rheumatism, arthritis and other ailments.

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