After spending the latter part of the previous day and most of the evening in transit I was happy to be in Mancora. I had originally visited here on an earlier trip to Peru in 2006. Even at 4 am there were tuk tuks waiting for passengers to get off the bus and offer us rides to where we needed to go.
Tuk tuks are typically found in India and are 3 wheel motorcycles with a small canopied seating area behind the driver. Tuk tuks are the main form of transportation in Mancora and you can get anywhere in town for 2 Soles. The exchange is around 3 Soles for $1 US.
A tuk tuk!
Where to stay…
The hotel I planned on staying at was on lock down at that time of morning and I needed to find something in the meantime, so my driver took me to a small hotel at the far end of the beach. It was called Guacamayo Hotel and was owned by an interesting fellow named Martin and his wife Silvia.
I was given a private double room and this was 40S/18$ which also included breakfast. The hosts were great and aside from the location being a little ways from the center of town this was a lucky find. It was in a quiet area a few blocks from the less busy area of the beach.
When I arrived and it was my birthday and I wanted a beer. Even at 4 am the owner gladly went and got me a large bottle of beer and I hung out in front of my room watching the day break. This hotel has only been open a few years but the garden was already well planted and had a wonderful pool.
The owners are dog lovers and have quit a few dogs hanging around the property which they have rescued. The dogs were very friendly, weren’t annoying and very well behaved. The hosts were very attentive and great people which for me goes a long way.
Each room has it’s own private bathroom and a hammock out in front of the door, under a shaded canopy. My room was clean and had a rustic charm to it. I highly recommend this hotel to anyone that wants an affordable relaxing place to stay in a quiet area.
My room at Guacamayo Hotel.
My room opened up to palm trees and the pool. I liked to relax in the hammock in the shaded area in front of my room when I wanted to get a break from the sun.
The well planted grounds and pool made Guacamayo a great environment to relax!
Located near Guacamayo is The Point Hostel which also has other locations around Peru. This is a more relaxing vibe than some of the other hostels but is also at the edge of town, further down the beach. It is a popular place to stay for those not wanting the action of being in the main town but wanting to be in a upbeat environment. Shared dorms are 30S/$10 per night and bathrooms and showers are in separate rooms spread throughout the hostel.
The most popular place to stay in Mancora for young people is Loki del Mar hostel. It isn’t what you would picture when thinking of a hostel and is a beach resort for backpackers that resembles a large hotel. All rooms have a private bathroom and shower and dorm rooms start at 25S/$8 per night.
Loki del Mar is a constant party and anyone wanting to get a decent sleep at night should find somewhere else. Some people will actually book a dorm bed here just to gain access to the party while staying somewhere else. Loki has hostels all over Peru and also locations in Bolivia and Argentina.
For those wanting to be right on the beach and in front of the surf the best place to stay is Del Wawa. I stay each time I’m in Mancora! It is by far the best location in all of Mancora and you are located right at the main surf break at the start of the beach. I stayed here originally back in 2006 and even got to be in the same room as the other time I was here. I couldn’t have chosen a better place to be for my birthday and had a blast while staying in this prime location.
I always get a beachside room when I am here. The single ocean view rooms are $49US/147S per night and a double beachside room is 201S/$67. All room raes here also include a continental breakfast.
Hotel Del Wawa.
My beachside room. I always try to get the corner room if possible!
The view of the beach from my shaded patio.
Things to do…
Mancora is the most popular and busiest beach town in all of Peru. Even when the rest of the country is having cooler weather you can always count on a favourable climate here. It is as popular with Peruvians as it is with travellers from other countries.
Famous for its beach it is a great place to surf and is also very popular for kitesurfing because of the consistent afternoon winds. This being said it is better to surf in the morning.
Mancora has something for everybody. The food is some of the best I’ve had in all of Peru which is saying a lot as I consider Peruvian food to be in the running for the best in the world. The shopping is also very good and there are a wide variety of shops and vendors located on the main strip and near the beach.
There are always travellers from all over the world here and it is a great place to go out and party in many of the local bars, restaurants and nightclubs. You can usually find out where the party is based on the thumping bass and loud music that emanates into the night.
Peru isn’t really known for it’s beaches but Mancora is one of the best in the country. The beach stretches a far distance away from the main point a few kilometres down the coast.
One thing to realize is that because of the drug activity in this area and the beach being a popular place to drop off drugs you definitely don’t want to walk past the small beach located near sign for The Point Hostel as you walk away from the main area of town. I went for a morning walk the one day and a police officer told me that walking further was not for tourists and he pointed at my watch and then made a sign of a gun being pointed at my head and going bang. This was enough of an indication for me to not go any further and it also made it obvious that the police are involved in the drug trafficking as much as anyone.
The main place to surf in Mancora is a point break created from the reef that surrounds the beach. This can be crowded like most points because everyone is in the same spot waiting for a wave to come through. Another thing to keep in mind here is that the reef gets very shallow very quickly. I suggest wearing reef booties to protect your feet from the sharp coral and sea urchins that live on the reef.
The main point at low tide. The waves break behind these rocks at high tide so be careful to get around them early or you might regret it!
The main strip in Mancora is lined with restaurants, shops and vendors. Most are selling clothing, jewellery, souvenirs and crafts. Many of the crafts are made with shells, wood and locally sourced materials. Silver jewellery is easy to find here and most of it is handcrafted with much of it set with semi-precious stones. If you look hard enough you can also find fossils, artifacts as well as jewellery made with animal teeth, claws and bones.
Mancora’s main strip is lined with shops and Tuk Tuks to take you anywhere you need to go.
The main square where you find vendors selling their naturally sourced arts, crafts and jewellery.
The best craft on offer here are wind chimes made from seashells. If you can manage to get one of these home in one piece they are worth the effort.
Where to eat…
The main strip is lined with so many food options you could literally eat a different meal at a different restaurant for the next 5 years. There are also restaurants and bars lining the beach for quite a distance and this was a convenient way to get a break from the sun. I enjoyed getting some drinks and eat good food during the mid day heat while still enjoying the beach and ocean. Most of these were multi level and I liked sitting up on the upper level most days when I was at the beach especially to watch the sunset while enjoying a few cold beers.
One of the most common foods here was the fried seafood or Chicharones. Most people know Chicharones to be a fried pork belly because of this being a popular food in Mexico but in South America it could mean any battered fried fish or seafood. My favourite was the mixed seafood which often included any mix of fish, clams, squid, shrimp and octopus. For between 12 and 18S/$4 and $6 you could get a massive serving of fried goodness served with lime wedges and mayonnaise to dip. I liked to mix the mayonnaise with pepper sauce to give it a little kick in the heat department.
They often offered this meal as a combo. That means it comes with a beer!
Mixed chicharones del mar!
Plantain chips were a typical side down here. A plantain is similar to a banana and fries up nicely reminding me of a potato chip. This meal I had fried shrimp and plantain chips.
Any sort of seafood soup, chowder or bisque I have a hard time passing up. My favourite is with a cream broth and often times you can request the soup with a cream broth, milk broth or a clear broth. One local restaurant had a mixed seafood soup that was truly amazing. It had mussels, crab, shrimp, squid with peppers, onions and a creamy tomato broth. This one costed 12 Soles/$4 and was a meal in itself!
One of my favourite simple meals that I had while in Mancora was shrimp cooked in a spicy coconut cream sauce. This was similar to the encocado I had a few times in Ecuador but had it’s own flavour. I especially liked the rice being in the shape of a shamrock!
Grilled octopus is not always the easiest thing to find in my travels but once I find a place that does it right then I will keep going back for more. This was the case when I decided to have a mid day beer on the beachfront Wiracocha Lounge Bar which wasn’t a place I was expecting to get great food.
When I ordered my beer I was asked if I wanted something to eat and even though I wasn’t that hungry I thought I would put it out there and ask if they had grilled octopus. The waiter came back and with a big smile on his face told me they would have some brought up to me in a few minutes. For 12 Soles/$4 I was brought this generous portion of grilled octopus with a really nice mixed salad on the side. This was one of the best servings of grilled octopus I’ve had anywhere and was back a few times for more.
One of the most interesting places to get food was this mobile pizza stand called Nikitos. This place was super busy and the pizza was really good.
Anyone who has followed my blog knows I love pizza, especially with ham and pineapple!
I celebrated my birthday while in Mancora and decided that I was in the mood for some surf and turf. I decided to try a Mexican restaurant called El Ahi. I ordered the beef tenderloin with garlic shrimp. This came with mashed potatoes and was served au jus. Down here they typically cook steak on a pan as compared to many other places that use a grill. This meal was 36 Soles/$12 and was a great value, knowing that this same meal would be close to $50 in many other countries.
Making a weekend out of my birthday I decided to spoil myself again the following night. I decided to try Sirena de Juan which is located on the main strip. I ordered grilled tuna steak which was served with fries and salad. The tuna was cooked just enough to sear it and drizzled with a passion fruit reduction. This gave it a nice sweet and tart flavour. Once again I forgot to ask what it was served with as I would have rather had rice instead of fries. Either way I wasn’t too worried about what was on the side as the tuna was amazing. This was 30 Soles/$10 and was excellent!
Go to Mancora…
There are a lot of choices for beaches in Peru but depending on the season, the water is going to require a wetsuit. In some places wetsuits are needed all year and that being said if you always want hot weather the North of Peru will give you this time after time. It is as common with Peruvians as it is with international travellers from all over the world and once you go there you will see why. I have been there twice and will surely be back again. If you need any more information on this region of Peru visit www.vivamancora.com
Gone on a whim…