Huanchaco is a lazy beach town that lies just beyond the car horns and chaos of Trujillo in northern Peru. After 6 months of struggling to keep the pace in Trujillo, it actually took a conscious effort to slow down to the Huanchaco speed, where locals pride themselves on their tranquilo reputation.
There is a lot to like about Huanchaco despite its size–there are only two or three main roads while the rest are narrow streets better suited for tuk-tuks and skateboards. The town is squeezed between the ocean and a bluff so everything is within walking distance of the beach. In addition to its walkability, here are some of the finer things about Huanchaco:
- There is an amazing sunset every evening.
- It is a well known surf destination.
- Huanchaco locals are friendly and proud of their town.
- Food and lodging are affordable.
- Most of the tourists in the summer months are Peruvian.
- The ceviche is fantastic–use Google Maps to see all of my reviews.
- Supermarkets and anything else you would need is only 25 minutes by bus.
- The beach overflows with local tourists on weekends during the summer.
- The beach is often dirty and littered with trash (despite constant efforts to clean it).
- There is no supermarket, only corner stores and the central market.
- Sometimes people burn trash so it smells like, well, burning trash.
- You can’t walk along the beach without someone handing you a restaurant menu.
- The bus stations are in Trujillo so you will need to catch a taxi, which are plentiful. The price for a taxi from Trujillo to Huanchaco in 2014 was about 15 soles, where locals paid closer to 10 and tourists closer to 20.
- Otra Cosa is the town’s gem. It is a vegetarian restaurant run by a Dutch guy and his Peruvian wife. They are wonderful people who give a lot back to the community and the food isn’t bad, either.
- Muchik is a nice surf shop that gave discounts to volunteers.
- El Penion is a restaurant on the main strip that is always busy with locals. The Specials menu is affordable and offers some of the best food in town. There’s a reason it is so popular.
- Chocolate has a nice coffee shop vibe and fantastic sweets.
Living in Huanchaco
Huanchaco was a wonderful escape after life in Trujillo, where the noise, pace and (occasional) danger got old quickly. My partner and I found an apartment overlooking the beach for 600 soles per month, even less expensive than our apartment in Trujillo. Coming from the city (and being Americans), we were worried about the lease and deposits and coordinating move-in dates. “Listen, this is Huanchaco,” said the landlord. “Things are not as serious here.”
That conversation encapsulates our experience in Huanchaco: Good people with less stress than the city.
The bus to central Trujillo takes about 45-minutes. That made work commutes inconvenient and occasionally challenging or expensive to find a ride back late at night. However, if she did not work in the city, we might have only made the trek once per week to get groceries or catch a movie at Mall Aventura, which is only 25 minutes by bus. Although, even with her commute 5 days per week, she would still choose Huanchaco over Trujillo.
For more on Huanchaco, visit the Wikipedia page.