I was already traveling some time now, two months on the way and for this beach girl it was time to head back to the beach again. My last beach time was in Chile (Arica) although Lake Titicaca felt like the ocean too but was a big lake. Huanchaco is a popular holiday town in the city of Trujillo and its known for its surf breaks. Next to the surf Huanchaco is known for the Caballitos de Totora; reed watercrafts used by fishermen in Peru for the past 3000 years. You can see this as the ancestor of the SUP board we see today. You can spot these Caballitos de Totora all over Huanchaco and even see the local people riding them in the ocean.
I arrived in Trujillo in the morning by the overnight Cruz del Sur bus from Lima. The duration of trip is ±10 hours, perfect for an overnight bus. Departed Lima around 22:30 and arrived around 8:00 in Trujillo, where I took at 20S taxi to Huanchaco. My onward destination was to Mancora, that bus runs from Lima to Guayaquil (Ecuador) and stops in both Trujillo and Mancora. I departed Trujillo by night bus again around midnight and 10 hours later I arrived in Mancora. In the Huanchaco/Trujillo area I used cheap local busses to get to Chicama and the pre-Columbian city of Chan Chan. I understand that tall cruise ships stop here close to Huanchaco too, to visit the Chan Chan.
Tip: Book an overnight bus when the bus ride is longer than 8 hours, this saves time, accommodation and with a VIP or Suite seat, you can sleep comfortably.
Be Aware: That there could be delays on these long distance buses with multiple stops, it’s a long bus ride from Lima and hurdles could occur along the way.
Huanchaco is a holiday destination for both locals and foreign tourists. In the weekends the families from Trujillo visit the Huanchaco beaches. They hang out on the beach, drink beers, surf the waves and stroll on the muelle (pier). Check below the things to do in Huanchaco area:
1. Go Surfing or Chill at the Beach
The number one activity is surfing here in Huanchaco. The ancestors of Peru already use the Caballitos de Totora as a surfboard to catch the fish. The waves are strong and consisted at this part of the coast. There are multiple breaks here in Huanchaco for both the experienced surfer and the beginner. If you want to rent a board of take surf lessons check the Boqueron Surf School Derechas from the local Peruvian Alejandro. His surf school was set up with the help of the Dutch organization Surfers for Surfers which provided wetsuits, boards and transport to Peru. A great initiative and Alejandro is running a great surf school at the main road of Huanchaco now. So don’t hesitate and check out some waves here!!
Tip: Always check with the locals or surf schools how the current and waves are coming in. This will help to peddle out and keep safe in the water.
If you don’t like to surf, you can rent an umbrella for the sun and chill and watch the surfers doing their thing. If you are lucky you can meet the local and world surf champion Piccolo Clemente; he is from Huanchaco and surfs all over the world and is one of the best in the world in the longboard surf category.
2. Eat Ceviche
According to researchers, Huanchaco is the birthplace of the seafood dish ceviche. Ceviche is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in lemon or lime, spiced up with chili peppers, chopped onions, salt and coriander. The ceviche is often accompanied with sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado and fried banana. You can eat ceviche in all over Latin America, it’s one of my favorite dishes, very healthy and good proteins. In Huanchaco you can eat ceviche at a lot of places; the most popular and one of the best is El Caribe located at Atahualpa 150.
Tip: Ask the locals for the best ceviche place in Huanchaco; Alejandro guided me to a couple of hidden gems!
3. Walk to the Church and Pier
To get a beautiful panorama view of Huanchaco, you should walk up to the Iglesia de Huanchaco. Here you will find a small white with red church and the top of the hill. Next to some nice gardens. In the weekend families from Trujillo come to Huanchaco to spend the day at the beach and buying potatoes and donuts at the local stand at the boulevard and pier. A lot of entertainment is going as well as vendors selling their merchandise.
4. Surfing Chicama
One of my highlights as a surfer is: surfing Chicama. The Chicama break is known as the longest left-hander in the world (perfect for a goofy surfer like me!). I was in the neighborhood so worth to pay this world class wave a visit. From Huanchaco you have to take the bus to Trujillo and change buses. The total journey will take about 2 to 2.5 hours.
Tip: Ask the bus driver to let you know where to get off the bus in Trujillo to get the next bus to Puerto Malabrigo (Chicama).
Tip: Surf shops in Huanchaco offer tours to Chicama too, check the frequency and duration beforehand.
My suggestion is to visit Chicama for 2 or 3 days, this is worth the journey and for surfers this is surf Mecca. The village is not spectacular and the surroundings are very dry and sandy. It was not what I expected and on top of that strong offshore winds picked up in the afternoon. This is why the wave is so perfect, due to this offshore wind. Even spotted some kite surfers in the bay!
In Chicama (Puerto Malabrigo) you can find several accommodations, all mainly surf orientated like El Inti Surf House. During my stay is was very busy because of the Easter weekend, surf competition on the wave and fully booked accommodation. Luckily I found a room at Hotel Sueños de Chicama for 120S per night. In the village and El Inti you can rent boards for 35-45S per day.
In Chicama you can eat off course delicious and fresh ceviche, which I did of course at Restaurant Chicama. I went to Los Delfines de Chicama for less basic and more upscale food and scenery.
Tip: Ask the locals where to go, they have normally the best tips for restaurants!
5. Cultural Chan Chan
The extraordinary Chimú capital of Chan Chan (which means Sun Sun) is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest adobe city in the world build around 850AD. Once 60,000 inhabitants lived here and had a lot of treasures.
Despite numerous weather-batterings over the years the Chan Chan’s ceremonial courtyards and decorative walls with inscriptions are a lust for the eyes. The adobe brickwork is amazing with all the handmade figures carved out. You can find two styles of carving design like animals (birds, fish and small mammals) and the other is more graphic like squares and triangles.
Chan Chan is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but is also on the List of World Heritage in Danger; this means that Chan Chan today is all about work in progress to conserve and restore the erosion of this archaeological site. This is a must visit during your stay in Huanchaco and only a short bus ride far, perfect for a sunny morning.
Where to stay and eat in Huanchaco
I wanted to stay at Hostel Naylamp that looked very appealing, but unfortunately that was fully booked, during this Easter period. So try to book in advance if you want to stay here. I ended up at Frogs. I had a private room with balcony and hammock which was comfortable, but it is real hostel with a rooftop bar, lounge area, table tennis and busy crowds especially in the weekend.
I loved two restaurants in particular here in Huanchaco: Otra Cosas Restaurante Vegetariano and Chocolate Café. Otra Cosas is Dutch owned and offer perfect breakfasts with pancakes and fresh fruits with juice and vegetarian dishes for lunch and dinner. All with a perfect ocean view or enjoy the sunset at Av. Victor Larco 13102. The service could be a bit slow but the waiting is rewarded. Chocolate Café is located at Av. La Rivera 752, is a perfect spot for breakfast, brunch or lunch. The ambiance is cozy and lovely with some seat outside; they have good coffee and healthy fresh meals. Real recommendations here in Huanchaco.
If you like to eat something else than ceviche (see above the El Caribe Restaurant) you can go to Sabes Bar for the best pizza in town. I could barely finish it but it tasted great after a lot of ceviche plates. It is located at the main street/boulevard of Av. Victor Larco 1220, on the first floor. You will definitely love the pizza and the setting.