Huanchaco is my favorite place on earth. This charming beachside town is located 10 minutes from the city of Trujillo in Northern Peru, the place where I was born. I used to visit Huanchaco every Sunday with my family. After moving to the Netherlands, I would come back to this magical place to spend the holidays.
Huanchaco is a popular destination for tourists and famous for its seafood and many good quality restaurants. The mid-height constant waves attract professional and amateur surfers during all seasons. Huanchaco is also part of the touristic circuit called ’Moche Route’ or “Ruta Moche”.
Despite of its increasing modern setting, Huanchaco has maintained the charm of its traditions over the years. Moreover, it hasn’t been spoiled by mass tourism yet. Huanchaco is just the perfect place to relax, eat healthy food and enjoy beautiful sunsets.
A unique view that surprises visitors of Huanchaco are the millennium-old handmade reed boats floating in the sea. These are known as ‘caballitos de totora’. Caballito de Totora fishing is the most remarkable and living heritage of the ancient Mochica and Chimu cultures that lived in this region. It’s a symbol of local identity that can be traced back thousands of years. It can be said that fishermen on the caballitos were the first surfers in the world. How fascinating this is! Time hasn’t quite changed after so many years. The robust fishermen still use the ‘caballitos’ to provide food to their families and it helps them making a living.
Huanchaco’s scenic views
Huanchaco is known for its scenic sunsets. You can watch surfers riding the waves in the orange horizon while being surrounded by fishermen. They ride against the waves to get the last catch of the day.
Another eye catcher of Huanchaco is its beautiful pier. It offers visitors a refreshing view of the bay and the fishermen movements. While walking over the pier, it feels great to be surrounded by the powerful waves. It’s the best place to inhale the healthy sea aromas. Hungry pelicans diving for delicious fish add to the scenic views of Huanchaco.
Huanchaco’s town market
Exotic fruits, fresh vegetables and herbs coming from the land… It’s all available at Huanchaco’s local market. This hidden market at Manco Capac street is frequented both by locals and tourists. It’s fascinating to see the great variety of fruits and vegetables at the stands. The displayed meats and poultry might be a bit shocking since they’re not neatly chopped and packed in plastic. However, it adds to the charm of the market.
If you come in early you’ll be able to see the catch of the day. Think of huge exotic fish, juicy scallops, tasty octopus and lots of shrimps… It’s a paradise for fish lovers. Many locals workers and increasingly more tourists visit the market during lunch time. Food stands serve good menus for only a few soles, including a drink!
As soon as the sun sets, Huanchaco locals get ready for some tasty street food. There are several outside locations in Huanchaco where to treat yourself with cachangas (fried tortillas), picarones (sweet doughnuts with syrup), anticuchos (heart beef sate)… Papas rellenas are popular amongst Peruvians. This is a tasty deep fried potato ball filled with seasoned meat. The ladies at the food courts prepare them with care. The seats at the food stands are often crowded with hungry people.
On hot summer days, the ‘raspadilla’ is perfect to quench your thirst. Several stands located along Huanchacos boulevard serve this fruity grated ice in cups.
Huanchaco is not only charming around the beach area. The town itself is also full of surprises. Think of charming little parks with pergolas, colorful houses and lively streets with restaurants and cafés (los Pinos street). Walk through Avenida Victor Larco Herrera and enjoy the colorful houses with white iron grates and spacious patios.
Walk up hill and discover Huanchaco’s iconic church. The church is one of the oldest in Peru and was built by the Spanish ‘conquistadores’. Built on top of pre-Hispanic ruins, the church was first devoted to the catechization of the indigenous population in the 16th century.
Wandering through the streets of Huanchaco you’ll see some peculiar painted murals. A couple of years ago, Huanchaco municipality let loose a group of graffiti artists. They painted the streets with urban art. Think of caballitos de totora and other local icons.
Visitors of Huanchaco can extend their visit by following the amazing Moche Route. The route takes you along archaeological sites and diverse cultures of the north coast. You can start in Chan Chan, the sprawling 500-acre complex of adobe palaces. It was built by the pre-Inca Chimú culture and known to be the largest adobe city in the world. The town of Trujillo used to be the seat of power of the Moche culture. Just outside the city, in the village of Moche you’ll find the beautiful Temples of the Sun and the Moon. There’s also the recently opened Moche Pyramids Museum. Furthermore, the Cau Museum and recently discovered grave of the lady of Cau at the Archeological Complex El Brujo is a must visit! In Augustus 2015, a new spiritual route will be opened for public. You’ll be able to experience Moche rituals at the archeological site. Go further north to the region of Lambayeque and visit Túcume, the Sipán archaeological site and the Museum of the Royal Tombs in Chiclayo.
The Moche Route has so much to offer…
View more photos at Huanchaco photo gallery on Flickr.
WHERE TO STAY
Casa Naranja Peru, Huanchaco
Why go: fantastic ocean view, friendly hosts, great insider tips
When travelling to a country like Peru, it’s nice to stay in a hotel or B&B where people speak English and provide you with information and tips. At Casa Naranja, the owners make you feel at home. The interior of the house is modern yet charming, and the rooftop terrace is great to have breakfast with ocean view. When the sun goes down, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink and a bite. You can ask the owners to arrange a tasting of local delicacies. They can also prepare an excellent frappucino with coffee toasted and grinded at home!
Las Orquideas 340, Huanchaco (Peru)