Huanchaco: A Peruvian Beach Town
Whilst the beach may not be top of your to-do list in Peru, you may sometimes just need a break from the country’s historical sites. Just outside the city of Trujillo, Huanchaco may not have the most beautiful coastline in the world but we were charmed by this small town mixing modern tourism with the residents’ traditional way of life.
The sandy beach stretches around the bay meaning even on busy summer weekends, when the hoardes descend, it is possible to take a walk along the coast to get away from the crowds. Don’t get me wrong, even when it’s busy, the town has a laid-back feel, the sort of place where a planned stop of a night or two could easily turn into a week or more. Lined up along the beach and sometimes bobbing around at sea are caballitos de totora, traditional fishing boats made from reeds.
My partner, Zach, took a surfing lesson for the first time here. Our first problem was finding a surf school that was open in the morning, I suppose stereotypical surfers would take full advantage of the slow pace of life and have late lie-ins everyday. There are many to choose from (when they’re open), just be careful to check exactly what they’re offering you. Zach wanted an English speaking instructor and despite clarifying this before paying, after he paid, a non-English speaking instructor appeared for his lesson. Luckily Zach can speak a bit of Spanish, and it turned out you don’t really need that much verbal communication in a surfing lesson.
Mixed in with the surf schools lining the front are restaurants, many of which serve up the Peruvian speciality of ceviche. In fact, rumour is that Huanchaco was the birthplace of ceviche, so where better a place to try it than here. Consisting of raw fish marinated in lime and chilli, served with onion, lettuce, corn and sweet potato, it was a bit too spicy for my pathetic tastebuds. Prices start at 12 soles in the budget places, just make sure wherever you eat is fairly busy – raw fish is not something you want to scrimp too much on!
Huanchaco is close to many archaeoloical sites and makes for a more relaxed base than the city of Trujillo. We only visited the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna, a combi (minibus) ride and then supposedly only a 5 sol taxi ride away, however one taxi drove off in disgust when we tried to haggle him down so we ended up paying somebody else 8 soles. Our hostel had told us the taxi would be 5 sol, so not sure what happened there! We got back using two different combis, a bit of an adventure, cheaper and less stressful than haggling with taxis. There is an informative modern museum to explore then you get a guided tour of the Huaca de la Luna, ours turned out to be a private tour as we happened to be the only English speaking visitors. The main draw of this huaca are the colourful murals depicting fighting warriors, with the loser being sacrificed to the god Ayapec.
The Boring Bit
We travelled with Turismo Erick el Rojo from the Metropolitano bus station in Lima to Trujillo for 30 soles, a 10 hour journey leaving at 10.15am. Short taxi ride to Huanchaco.
We stayed at McCallums, a reasonably priced place (40 soles double with ensuite) with a kitchen available to use. There is an outdoor seating area with hammocks which could do with a bit of a spruce up, but not a big problem as we spent more time relaxing at the beach.
Huaca de la Luna entry 10 soles and an extra 3 soles to go in the museum.