Huanchaco – Chillout, Surfing and Good Vibes in Peru

A popular seaside resort city in the province of Trujillo, Huanchaco is known for its surf breaks, caballitos de totora, ceviche, and the nearby Chan Chan ruins. Huanchaco was approved as a World Surfing Reserve by Save The Waves Coalition in 2012. The town is part of the tourist circuit called “la Ruta Moche”.

Off for the Weekend

When the week is coming to its end and I am closing my last workshop class for the week with my clothes stained by various paints, more blisters on my hands from crayon sharpening, appreciating the work of cleaning ladies as never before, I am always looking forward to another adventure somewhere around Chimbote where my blog and social networks take me for some entertaining work to do.

This time my boss and friend Juan Carlos and I went to see and review a couple of places in Huanchaco, a little town which can easily make its way to your heart as it is surfers´ paradise with amazing Australian-like good beach vibes and lots of partying and chilling.

The way on the bus though was a nightmare as in the three hours spent on the bus, there where two extremely loud American action movies screened, one after the other, with so much killing and screaming that I got really sick with what I had seen and was forced to listen to (how bizarre, really, though every single seat of the luxurious bus had an audio socket for headphones to be plugged in, nobody was using those and the movie sound was simply played out – really loud – for the whole bus to hear)! When I tried to talk to the bus driver (over a phone machine present on the bus, as nobody can reach the cabin of the driver which is locked and carefully insulated with non-transparent interior windows) and later to a bus guard at a stop, they both responded with something like: “Oh, it is not too loud, it is a good movie.” Apparantely, most people on the bus probably thought the same…

When I reached the hotel in Huanchaco which was meant to be my home for the next couple of days (taking a taxi from Trujillo for like 15 minutes), I was so grateful. Not only is Hotel Riviera Muchik a truly clean and well-located hotel situated right at the seafront with the lobby overlooking the ocean, but it is amazingly quiet! I mean, you really don’t hear any noise from the corridors or from the adjacent rooms. What a blessing, seriously, a perfect place to help me gain back tranquillity after the terrible bus ride.

If you plan to stay at this hotel when in Huanchaco, make sure you book in advance to get a room with the ocean view, because the side or back rooms are nice (with really cool bathrooms) but you don’t get to see the wavy waters which to me is the magic of seafront hotels really…

Even if the capacity of the hotel does not allow you to have your room with a view though, you can always go downstairs to chill at the lobby, get a drink and work on your laptop or read a book like I did. The ocean is literally a few meters away and the massive windows of the hotel front allow you to get a feeling of an intimate proximity with the waters…

Right outside the hotel, you can go swimming (but carefully at low tide, there are sharp stones and reefs in several places), surfing (there is a surfing school next to the hotel) or rent one of the traditional reed boats, caballitos de totora, which are made from the same reed, the totora, used by the Uru people on Lake Titicaca, and are considered part of the Peruvian’s National Cultural Heritage since 2016.

If you like shopping for artisanal objects, you are bound to fall in love with Huanchaco as you find artsy shops and stalls along the beach and some of the goods really capture your attention. You encounter street artists and musicians and cool ezo places such as the Mandala beach bar and hostel, Moksha Yoga and Surf Hotel, or Chocolate Café.

Take a little stroll up the local hill to Santuario de la Virgen del Socorro, a church above town which is certainly worth a visit as it was built between 1535 and 1540 and is supposedly the second oldest church in Peru. Some amazing views will open up to you once you are standing by the church.


Nightlife in Huanchaco

As mentioned previously, Peruvian people love it loud. Saturday night in Huanchaco gets crazy with different electronic beats sounding from adjacent clubs. Actually, sometimes you even get different types of beats shouting down in the same club – one from the DJ, another from the bar speakers upstairs on a terrace… I am serious when I say that I heard four different types of music all at once in one place on my Saturday night out… It IS insane! Either you give up, or you drink a lot, or you get stoned or you practice the yogic pratyahara and dharana and concentrate on one rhythm only which you make prevailing in your perception.

This practice seemed no longer possible around 2 am when a lot of people basically just started arriving to the club. I was the only one leaving – but my boss was cool enough to accompany me to the hotel and we got the best fried fast food I have ever eaten in my life: papa rellena, a stuffed potato with a lot of veggies. It tasted heavenly that late at night…

The most important food of the day for me is breakfast. Then it is lunch. I can do without dinner. This kind of schedule is obviously very different to that of South America so sometimes I have to deal with merely juice for breakfast or bread and jam… If you – like me – long for a proper substantial breakfast, try the vegetarian restaurant Otra Cosa, where you get some amazing breaky offers such as pancakes, pastries with guacamole and eggs, cereals, yoghurts, fruits, I mean – just name it… 

For dinner, I recommend the seafood grill at El Tramboyo restaurant where the food is fresh and the salsas and garlicy sauces a thrill. However, the portions are not too big, so go with an appetizer and a main dish – certainly not a place where you want to share one meal with your loved one or you end up fighting for the last piece – because the food is divine!

Trujillo City

If you wish to spend some time in the city of Trujillo too, I recommend the colourful historic centre with its colonial architecture, many lovely cafés and artisanal markets and shops.

Get lunch in one of the restaurants around Plaza de Armas and then come back to Huanchaco for a marvellous sunset – seriously, this place is a paradise for those who love romantic purplish sunsets.


La Ruta Moche

The area of Trujillo and Huanchaco is a part of the Moche Valley, named after the pre-Incan Moche culture, which was succeeded by the Chimú culture. The Chimús created the capital city of Chan Chan and were later conquered by the Inca emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui (around 1470, fifty years before the arrival of the Spanish into the region).

The Chimús worshipped the moon, unlike the Inca whose centre of attention was the sun. The peaceful, tranquil lunar yin energy is present in the Moche Valley even nowadays and I strongly believe it is what brings people over for relaxing vacations, including Westerners (though their presence is still more common in the golden sand beaches of Máncora, where the waters are warmer, similar to those in Ecuador).

When you visit the Chan Chan ruins you might be surprised by how well-preserved they are. If you pay for a guide you learn some very interesting facts, such as that the most common offering for the Chimús was the shell of the Spondylus shellfish, which nowadays resides only in the warm coastal waters off present-day Ecuador. 


My special experience from Chan Chan was encountering for the first time in my life perro peruano, Peruvian Inca Orchid, which is hairless and which I loved immediately for its warm skin. No need to stress out these dogs are intelligent, loving and protective of their master. As if that was not enough, I am the kind of person who gets always a little cold just with a bit of wind swirling around, I love hot temperatures and dry climate – this dog would be perfect for me. I can imagine myself cuddling it every time I get cold in the winter months in my country but I don’t think perro peruano would be very happy there… its roots are here, with the Incas…

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