The nation of Peru may be famous for its ancient cultures, age-old cities and wealth of history, but there’s more to this charming country than first meets the eye. Peru’s beautiful 1,500-mile stretch of coast boasts some of the best beaches for surfing in the region. Stroll along deserted stretches of white sand, swim in seas that are 24 degrees all year round or enjoy some of the world’s best surfing competitions. Here are the best beaches in Peru to get you dreaming about your next South American adventure.
See also: 6 Best Day Tours in Peru
As a built-up, urban beach, Miraflores might not be the tropical paradise you have in mind when you imagine the best beaches in Peru, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. The City Beach in Miraflores is situated in the affluent downtown area of the bustling Peruvian capital city, Lima. Being part of the urban sprawl of a capital city means easy access to the city center, but enough space and fresh air that you feel like you have time to relax.
The beach is edged with high-rise apartment blocks, which sit on the edge of rugged cliffs coated in lush grass, complete with fantastic views of the ocean along the ‘Costa Verde’. It’s a popular spot for surfers who are attracted by the excellent surf, as well as paragliders who float dreamily over the sands. Take a stroll along the beachside boardwalk and discover local restaurants where you can enjoy a spot of lunch.
Quiet and secluded, Los Organos is a sleepy little seaside town just around the corner from the popular Mancora area. Hot and dreamy, the beach here is ideal for those who are looking for a slice of tranquility without crowds and hassles. Watch the local fishermen bring in their daily catches and keep an eye out for the sea turtles who like to look for food around the dock. Try out the catch of the day and other local Peruvian dishes in the small restaurants around the old town square.
The best thing to do in Los Organos is experience the stunning marine life – you can go on a whale-watching trip for the chance to see the incredible whales that visit the waters along this coast. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the majestic mammals in their natural habitat.
This tiny fishing village and its wonderful beach are famous – it is the spot where Ernest Hemingway was inspired to create his seminal novel The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway spent a large amount of time in Cabo Blanco, attracted there by big-game fishing that was popular in the area in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Nowadays, the search for huge fish has been overtaken by the hunt for big waves, as surfers are drawn to the area for its excellent surfing opportunities. Not a spot for beginners, the waves here are epically big. The famously large ‘Peruvian Pipe’ is a challenge for the many surfers who descend on the beach and is a spectacle to watch. The beach itself is all soft sands bordered by craggy rocks that reflect in the deep blue of the sea.
This laid-back beach is the place to head if you’re a keen surfer. Huanchaco has grown from a humble fishing town with a pretty beach to being a spot on the traveling map which is fast becoming a destination in its own right. Visitors often stop off en-route to exploring the many historical sites in the area, and relax on the long stretch of golden sand.
The beach has built up a reputation for its many watersports, and is well known for an unusual style of fishing practiced by the local fisherman. Caballos de totora, or ‘little reed horses,’ are woven boats which the fishermen ride over the waves in order to catch hauls of fish. Nowadays, surfboards are a more common sight than the reed horses, but it is still possible to see the tradition being carried out across the waves.
All surfers -from amateur to pro – should definitely make their way to this picture-perfect Peruvian beach. Labelled the best surf spot in Peru, the waves here are simply fantastic, thanks to a confluence of currents, which is why there are many surf schools in the area. The chilled-out surfing vibes are strong in the town, which was once in the hands of a British oil company.
The relics of the oil industry still lie scattered across the surrounding landscape – rigs remain out at sea and old buildings lie abandoned close to the beach. Rather than detracting from the attractiveness of the beach, the aftermath of the British influence has added a strange twist to the beach and town, with only the interesting architecture remaining. Big, old, British buildings sit on the coast overlooking the sea – some now lived in by locals, others left abandoned – a few of them are now surf hostels!
Just south of Mancora beach, about 10 minutes along the road, is the lesser known, pretty little Las Pocitas – one of the most attractive beaches in Peru. Translating as ‘Little Wells,’ the beach takes its name from the pools of water that appear inside craters in the rocks at low tide – perfect for young children to splash around and play in.
Edged with palms and beautiful, natural vegetation, the atmosphere is quiet, peaceful and ideal for ambient afternoons spent frolicking in the surf. The turquoise water that gently breaks on the soft white sands creates the quintessential tropical beach scenery. With nothing more to do, grab yourself a sunbed, put your sun cream on, and enjoy days lazing along this sublimely sultry, sandy shoreline.
Playa Roja (Red Beach), takes its name from the extraordinary color of the sand here. The unusual deep red sand is due to the volcanic activity in the area, which also makes the surroundings incredibly fertile. Igneous rock with solidified magma inside is carried by the waves to the shore, leaving the amazingly vivid red sand, which becomes even more eye-catching against the creamy yellow hues of the cliff.
Playa Roja is situated in and surrounded by the incredible natural beauty of Paracas National Reserve. With miles of cliffs and coastal waters, its aim is to protect the diverse marine life that lives in the area, as well as to conserve the native Paracas culture. The beach becomes even more dazzlingly beautiful as the sun begins to sink below the horizon, lighting up the sand and highlighting the tropical surroundings – undoubtedly a highlight.
Also in Paracas, La Mina offers dazzling views along the coast with sparklingly turquoise-green waters, perfect for swimming. The beach’s powdery sand is ideal for beach bums who want to kick back and soak up the Peruvian rays – all you have do to reach this paradise is travel a little while down a dirt track. At the end of the road, the lush landscape opens up and La Mina beach is revealed in all its glory.
In the height of summer, the area is deservedly popular with tourists, but there is a
chance you will have the beach all to yourselves. Those who are feeling a little more adventurous have the option of camping on the beach overnight. Camping offers the opportunity to spend time on La Mina after all of the day-trippers have gone home. The clear night skies become a festival for star-gazers and, if you’re lucky, just as the sun starts to rise, you’ll see the local fisherman start their day and catch a glimpse of pelicans and sea lions sunbathing on the sand.
Tucked away along the northern coast, Punta Sal is a first class beach, considered one of the most beautiful in all the country. The beach is popular with city-dwellers who take the speedy hour-long train ride out of the city to spend time kicking back on the golden sands. Punta Sal is the longest beach on this part of the coast – its gentle waves and golden sands create a stunning spot to spend a few days.
Due to its location close to the equator, the current that flows through here heats up the sea water to a balmy 24°C – the whole year round! These tepid temperatures, along with the calm waters and clean sand, make Punta Sal a must-visit beach on your Peru vacation.
A quaint seaside village that bathes in 365 days of sunshine, Mancora is a popular spot for surfers and attracts travelers with its chilled-out atmosphere. Small, locally run restaurants dot the dusty streets and serve up international dishes for low prices. The main reason that most people flock to Mancora though is its beach: a divine stretch of sand with warm waters that makes taking a dip in the sea like having a bath.
Mancora’s beach is all pure powdery sand and good vibes – add to that almost year-round sunshine and cloudless blue skies and you have yourself one of the most popular beach destinations in Peru. The surf here is also supremely good, drawing a great slice of surferdom to its prime spots. And, though busy at times, you’ll be able to find a little portion of paradise for yourself at this: the best beach in Peru.