Endless White-Sanded Beaches
Peru's northern coast, with its gorgeous sandy beaches caressed by warm Pacific tides and blessed by eternal sunshine, is the ideal vacation destination. Few other places can offer such an enticing blend of nature, water sports, entertainment, tradition and history, not to mention exquisite regional cuisine featuring the fresh daily catches of local fishermen.
Proceeding from north to south, we first encounter the Tumbes region bordering Ecuador. Here, visitors can spot American crocodiles, magnificent frigatebirds and crab-eating raccoons at the 2,972-hectare Mangroves of Tumbes National Sanctuary and surf in the company of abundant marine life at the fisherman's cove of Zorritos. Just inland of Zorritos you'll find the Cerros de Amotape National Park, Peru's only protected stretch of dry equatorial forest, and the medicinal mud baths of Hervideros. Further south lies Punta Sal, one of the region's finest beaches, where the warm, placid waters invite windsurfing and kite surfing among the dolphins and sea lions. Local fishermen drag heavy catches of swordfish, anchovies, sea bass and eels ashore where crabs skitter away in the sand.
Crossing the border into the Piura region we come to the very popular beach town of Mancora, which provides some of the best surfing, most exclusive hotels and hottest nightlife. Vichayito, on the other hand, is a peaceful paradise of marine life where you can even spot migrating whales in the month of November. Los Organos is ideal for fishing, as is Cabo Blanco, the famous destination of Ernest Hemingway, who came here years ago to fish for black marlins. Cabo Blanco is also known for its powerful tubular left that draws surfers from around the world. Or just get away from it all at Norura, one of the country's most splendid virgin beaches with wide bays, sand dunes and a picture-perfect azure sea.
Legend has it that the pre-Hispanic god Naylamp first landed on Peruvian shores in Lambayeque in a caballito de totora (reed watercraft), giving rise to a tradition that lives on to this day. Here and in La Libertad, particularly at Huanchaco, local fishermen masterfully maneuver these unique handmade vessels over the waves. Chicama boasts the world's longest left wave and Pacasmayo, one of the country's principal ports in the 19th century, offers handsome architecture and a lovely stretch of beach lined with restaurants. The great Moche and Chimu civilizations once occupied vast swaths of the northern coast and it is here, in Lambayeque and La Libertad, where some of their most impressive ruins and artifacts can be found. Explore the world's largest adobe city at Chan Chan, glimpse beautiful color friezes at Huaca de la Luna and Huaca El Brujo, and view the magnificent tomb of the Lord of Sipán. Beautiful Spanish colonial architecture can be found in Trujillo, where the yearly traditional marinera dance competition is held.