Kahlia was Year On's 2018 community coordinator in Huanchaco. In this piece, she shares some of her favorite things to do in this lovely Peruvian town.
Huanchaco is a small oceanside town in northern Peru, surrounded by the Tablazo Desert and right along the Pacific Ocean. It’s known for its fresh ceviche, iconic pier, good waves for surfing, and traditional reed boats called caballitos de totora.
At first glance, Huanchaco is a bit harsh on the eyes. Take a second look, however, and it becomes more charming. It's a town you just have to get to know, which you can easily do by strolling down its long dirt roads or one of the few lovely brick pathed streets.
The weather here is not quite what you expect for a beach town, mostly because it is located right on the edge of the desert. It’s chilly in the mornings, hot during the day, and cold again after the sun sets. Locals call it the “town of eternal spring” for its spring-like weather all year round. It never gets colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter than 78 — though it will be the most intense 78 degrees you have ever experienced, so make sure to wear sunblock at all times!
The locals are accustomed to seeing tourists and travelers who come to surf or volunteer with local NGOs. They also get many day tourists from the nearby city of Trujillo, especially on the weekends, wanting to spend a day at the beach or enjoy fresh ceviche in one of the many restaurants along the coast. If you decide to join them in experiencing all Huanchaco has to offer, here are my top five recommendations for your visit here:
1. Take Surf Lessons
If you are into surfing or want to learn, Huanchaco is the place to be! Huanchaco was approved as a World Surfing Reserve by the organization Save The Waves Coalition in 2012 and officially dedicated on October 26, 2013. It the only surfing reserve in South America. There are lots of little surf shops around town where you can rent a board, or if you are new to surfing, take a lesson. There is not a day when you will not be able to spot someone out on the waves as Huanchaco is known for good surfing conditions.
2. Watch the Sunset
Huanchaco is located along the coast right on the Pacific Ocean, making it a prime place to watch the sunset. Walk up to the highest point in town, the colonial church Virgen del Socorro, which also happens to be the second oldest church in Peru, to get a view of the whole town and front row seats to watch the sun sink below the waves.
3. Practice Yoga
There are several hostels in town that offer yoga classes throughout the week. ATMA Hostel and Yoga & Moksha Yoga & Surf Hostel being two of the best places for morning or afternoon yoga classes. For a little as 10 soles or $3 a class, it’s a hard deal to turn down.
4. Eat Ceviche
If you like seafood, ceviche is a must-try during your time in Peru. Peruvians claim to make the best ceviche in the world, and here in Huanchaco, the fish cannot get fresher. If you are not familiar with ceviche, it’s a seafood dish typically made from fresh raw fish cured in lemon or lime juice, spiced with ají chili peppers, and often topped with onions, salt, cilantro, and a few other side veggies.
5. People Watch at the Pier
The pier in Huanchaco is probably one of the most noticeable landmarks in the whole town. It is also one of the most picturesque parts of the beach front. For 1-2 soles or just $0.50, you can walk to the end and get the experience of being on the water, plus great views of the town. On the weekends the beach really gets crowded and the pier lets you see all the action.
No matter what your reasoning for visiting Huanchaco there is something for everyone. The warm people of the town will make you feel very welcomed here and you will for sure enjoy the views and food at one of the many ocean view restaurants.