Mancora Travel Guide: Desert, Beaches and Sunsets in Northern Peru
We arrived in Mancora just before the break of dawn after crossing the border from Ecuador. I was sick and we had to wander around in the dark to find a place to stay. It wasn’t the ideal intro to Peru, but over the next few days we slowly fell for this little town by the Pacific Ocean.
Thinking about visiting Peru’s northern coastline? Keep reading our Mancora travel guide tips and a list of things to see and do.
Beaches in Mancora
The beaches in Mancora are similar to ones you’ll find along much of South America’s Pacific coastline. They aren’t exactly tropical — think yellow sand instead of white, desert backdrops instead of palm trees and rough rolling waves instead of calm, blue water. They do have a rugged charm though and are great for a stroll. We visited three beaches in and around Mancora. Los Pocitas, right in town, is a popular surfing spot. It’s an excellent beach but it does get a little post apocalyptic once you venture too far away from the built up part. We saw lots of trash and a massive dead sea lion on one walk. The areas close to town are nice though and there are a few bars and restaurants where you can relax by the ocean.
We took a shared taxi along a road surrounded by desert to Punta Sal, around 25 km north of Mancora. It’s a nice, clean stretch of beach and the scenic drive made it worth the trip.
My favourite beach in Mancora is Playa Los Organos. The beach is excellent and we even saw a blue-footed booby, something I figured we would only be able to see in the Galapagos Islands. We spent a few hours at Playa Los Organos and it was really quiet — it’s the perfect place to relax in Mancora. Playa Los Organos is just south of town and can be reached in a shared taxi.
Seeing Mancora from Above
It wouldn’t be a good Mancora travel guide without mentioning a visit to the lighthouse above town. We walked up and felt safe enough, but it was very quiet and it did seem a little rough — a taxi could be a better idea. From the lighthouse we saw panoramic views of the coastline, the town and the desert.
Sunsets in Mancora
We saw some stunning sunsets in Mancora. The beachfront section of town comes alive during the late afternoon hours and it’s an awesome place to watch the sunset.
Mancora Travel Guide: The Town
Mancora is a cool little tourist town which mostly caters to local holidaymakers. It’s considered to be home to some of the best beaches in Peru and apparently it gets quite busy at certain times of the year. We visited Mancora in September and it was pretty quiet. There were a few foreign tourists around, mostly people travelling overland through South America, as well as heaps of Latin American drifters selling jewellery and clothes.
- Where to eat in Mancora: There are heaps of restaurants in Mancora, many of which have very similar set menus. These usually consist of several options for starters and mains. Make sure you try the ceviche (fish “cooked” by the acid in lime juice) — it’s excellent in Mancora. If you’re looking for other options you should head for the main road. There are lots of little restaurants there and many have some great specials. We found a set meal including a delicious plate of pesto / chicken pasta for 15 soles.
- Where to stay in Mancora: We arrived in the pitch black of night and followed our fellow foreign tourists to Loki del Mar. I’ve heard it’s nice but we waited around for ages to check in and eventually left to find somewhere else. We found a nice little room in the centre of town for 40 soles (I can’t remember the name), but you might not find somewhere so cheap in high season. Mancora gets very busy during Peruvian holidays — make sure to book accommodation ahead during those times.
Getting to Mancora
Foreign tourists are likely to arrive in Mancora on the way to or from Ecuador. I wrote a post about the journey from Ecuador (Cuenca) to Mancora — check it out below. From Mancora we caught a night bus (70 soles) to Trujillo in order to see the desert ruins of Chan Chan.
FURTHER READING: The Night Bus From Ecuador to Peru: Cuenca to Mancora
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