Máncora is a quiet seaside village whose biggest claims are surfing, ceviche, and year-round, sun-drenched skies. It doesn’t take long to fall in love with the under-the-radar spot free of tourist clatter and full of charm. Simply put: If you’re looking for the good things in life without added fuss, Máncora is the haven you’ve been dreaming of. Book your trip now before the masses make a run for it.
Truly, the journey is half the fun and arriving to Máncora is an experience in itself. Fly into one of the (relatively) nearby airports of Piura, Talara, or Tumbes. Drive an hour or two on winding roads through rugged and desolate desert landscape as far as the eye can see until you spot the sea. Upon arrival, you won’t need a car: the best bars, restaurants, hotels, and dance venues are all within walking distance, and there’s just one dirt road that runs through the town. If you have to get from one end to the other, you won’t be hard pressed to find a motorized tuk-tuk ready to take you for no more than 5 soles (about $1.50). Slow things down at sunset and opt for the alternate, more scenic mode of transportation: horseback on the beach.
The beach scene in Máncora is reminiscent of Montauk 20 years ago or say, Tulum 10 years ago, filled with the rhythm of reggaeton music and laid-back, feel-good vibes. The beaches aren’t yet overrun with American tourists, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll run into anyone you know from back home. You’ll be tempted to hop from one seaside hotel for drinks in your swimsuit; Don’t miss private-home-turned-hotel, KiChic. Located in the strip known as Las Pocitas, KiChic is the passion-project of owner, Cristina Gallo, who raised children on the beachfront property until three years ago when she decided to give new life to her empty nest, remodeled, and opened her doors to travelers. Crack a coconut with friends and family in this intimate home away from home, or rent an oasis of your own at Airbnb.com. The best of Las Pocitas’s beachfront properties (Villas del Mar, Coco Né, and Arennas, to name a few) come standard with white-sand beaches, uncompromised coastline views, countless coconuts for the taking, and plentiful palm trees that will have you contemplating a life off the grid in no time.
Thirty minutes south of Las Pocitas is the neighboring fishing village, Cabo Blanco, aptly nicknamed “Peruvian Pipeline” for its large surf swells that rival those of Hawaii’s North Shore. If you need to brush up on your skills before hitting the board, take a lesson from the pros at Kite Club, just one of many local surf and kite surfing schools. Then, stop by the restaurant Cabo Blanco for all the fresh fish you fancy. Don’t be fooled by the extremely modest restaurant façade: this steps-from-the-seashore spot serves up the most mouthwatering seafood—you can even spot the fishing boats bobbing in the distance as you slurp equal portions of ceviche and pisco sours. (Fun fact: Ernest Hemingway was a visitor to the area, which is said to have inspired The Old Man and the Sea. Word has it he caught a 700-pound marlin fish on one of his many travels.) If you’ve somehow had your share of ceviche, the town is bustling with no-frills restaurants that offer international menus at affordable prices. Café Local is a favorite for smoothies, sandwiches, and salads made with ingredients sourced straight from the neighboring organic garden. Otherwise, recharge at La Sirena d’Juan or its sister restaurant Sirena Café, brainchildren of Mancora-born Juan Seminario, who studied at the culinary institute in Lima. You’ll find several traditional dishes inflected with Asian and Mediterranean influences. The result? A godsend on a plate to fill up on before retiring to a beach recliner for afternoon siesta.
Before you go, be sure to drive an hour and a half up the coast from Máncora to the Tumbes region. You’ll see a shift from neutral desert palettes to lush green landscape; an offbeat adventurer’s paradise with multiple national parks and ecological reserves. The Mangroves and the Amotape Hills National Park are two must-sees, thanks to their eerie lagoons and abundant wildlife. Take in the sites and take a picture or two (the flora and fauna makes for Instagram gold) before you head off to the airport to take flight.