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Five Things To Do In Huanchaco – The Coast And The Ruins


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Babita Schuh



Welcome to Huanchaco, a charming coastal town in Peru that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and ancient history. Situated just a few kilometers from the city of Trujillo, Huanchaco boasts stunning beaches, intriguing archaeological sites, and a vibrant local culture.


With its laid-back atmosphere and picturesque surroundings, Huanchaco has become a popular destination for travelers seeking a unique experience off the beaten path. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, Huanchaco has something to offer for everyone.


In this article, we will take you on a journey to explore the top five things to do in Huanchaco. From relaxing on the sandy shores to delving into the rich ancient history, there’s no shortage of activities that will make your visit to Huanchaco unforgettable.


So pack your bags, put on your sun hat, and let’s dive into the wonders that await in Huanchaco!


Explore the Beaches of Huanchaco

One of the main attractions in Huanchaco is its beautiful sandy beaches. The town is nestled along a stretch of coastline that offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Take a leisurely stroll along the shore and let the gentle sea breeze envelop you.


The beaches of Huanchaco are known for their excellent surfing conditions, attracting surfers from around the world. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry! There are several surf schools and rental shops where you can learn the ropes and catch your first wave. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you ride the waves, and soak up the sun while enjoying the exhilarating water sport.


Aside from surfing, the beaches of Huanchaco are also ideal for swimming and sunbathing. Grab your towel, lay back, and bask in the warmth of the Peruvian sun. The calm waters make swimming a relaxing experience, perfect for cooling off on a hot day.


While exploring the beaches, you’ll come across a unique sight – the traditional fishing boats known as “caballitos de totora.” These small, reed-made boats have been used by fishermen for centuries and are an essential part of the local culture. You can even take a ride in one of these traditional boats and experience an authentic piece of Huanchaco’s history.


Don’t forget to indulge in the vibrant beach culture of Huanchaco. There are plenty of beachfront restaurants and bars where you can savor delicious seafood dishes while enjoying panoramic ocean views. Try the local delicacy of ceviche, a flavorful dish made from fresh fish marinated in citrus juices.


Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a beach lover, or simply looking for a place to relax, the beaches of Huanchaco offer a haven of tranquility and natural beauty that will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.


Visit Chan Chan Archaeological Site

A visit to Huanchaco wouldn’t be complete without exploring the magnificent Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just a short distance from Huanchaco, Chan Chan was the capital of the ancient Chimú civilization and dates back to the 9th century.


As you step into the archaeological site, you’ll be transported back in time to a once-thriving city with intricate architecture and impressive craftsmanship. The sprawling complex spans over 20 square kilometers and is divided into ten citadels, each with its own unique features and purposes.


Take a guided tour to fully appreciate the historical significance and fascinating details of Chan Chan. Explore the intricate carvings and murals that adorn the walls of the citadels, depicting scenes from everyday life, mythical creatures, and religious symbols. Marvel at the complexity of the adobe structures, with their intricate patterns and hidden passageways.


One of the highlights of the Chan Chan site is the Tschudi Palace, the most well-preserved palace within the complex. Here, you can admire the elegant courtyards, ceremonial rooms, and symbolic motifs that showcase the wealth and power of the ancient Chimú rulers.


As you wander through the ancient ruins, you can’t help but be in awe of the ingenuity and skill of the Chimú civilization. The site is a testament to their architectural prowess and the cultural legacy they left behind.


Before leaving, make sure to visit the Chan Chan Museum, located near the site. The museum provides further insights into the history and significance of Chan Chan, with exhibits showcasing artifacts and displays that bring the ancient civilization to life.


A visit to Chan Chan offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Peru’s ancient past and gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultural heritage of the region.


Take a Surfing Lesson

With its ideal coastal location and consistent waves, Huanchaco is a paradise for surfers of all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, taking a surfing lesson in Huanchaco is an absolute must-do activity.


There are several surf schools and experienced instructors available in the area who can guide you through the basics of surfing or help refine your existing skills. They provide all the necessary equipment, including surfboards and wetsuits, ensuring you have everything you need for a successful and enjoyable surfing experience.


If you’re new to surfing, don’t be intimidated! The warm waters of Huanchaco offer a gentle learning environment, making it an excellent place for beginners to get the hang of the sport. The instructors will teach you the proper techniques for paddling, standing up on the board, and riding the waves, ensuring you feel confident and safe in the water.


For more experienced surfers, Huanchaco offers a variety of breaks suitable for different skill levels. Ride the waves at El Elio, a left-hand point break that provides fast and hollow sections, or test your skills at Las Delicias, a more challenging beach break known for its powerful waves.


Surfing in Huanchaco isn’t just about the sport itself; it’s about immersing yourself in the surf culture. After a thrilling session in the water, relax on the sandy beach, mingle with fellow surfers, and soak up the vibrant beach atmosphere.


Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the local tradition of caballitos de totora, traditional reed fishing boats used by the fishermen of Huanchaco. These unique vessels have been part of the town’s history for centuries, and you can even try your hand at riding one of these traditional boats after your surf session.


Surfing in Huanchaco is more than just a physical activity. It’s a chance to connect with nature, challenge yourself, and create lifelong memories in the process. So grab a board, catch a wave, and experience the thrill of surfing in one of Peru’s most breathtaking coastal destinations.


Indulge in Local Cuisine

One of the best ways to experience the culture of Huanchaco is through its mouthwatering local cuisine. The town is renowned for its delicious seafood dishes and unique culinary traditions influenced by its coastal location.


When it comes to seafood, ceviche is a must-try dish in Huanchaco. Made with fresh fish, marinated in tangy citrus juices, and mixed with onions, cilantro, and a touch of spice, ceviche is a refreshing and flavorful explosion for your taste buds. Head to one of the local seafood restaurants, known as cevicherias, and savor this iconic Peruvian dish.


In addition to ceviche, Huanchaco offers a range of other seafood delights. Taste the tender and succulent grilled octopus, known as pulpo al olivo, or try the arroz con mariscos, a hearty seafood rice dish packed with flavors of the sea. The abundance of fresh fish and shellfish ensures that every seafood lover will find something to satisfy their cravings.


For a taste of the local street food, try the anticuchos. These skewers of marinated and grilled beef heart are a popular snack among locals and make for a tasty and unique culinary experience. Pair your anticuchos with a traditional chicha morada, a sweet and refreshing purple corn drink that perfectly complements the flavors.


If you’re looking for a typical Peruvian dining experience, visit one of the traditional picanterias in Huanchaco. These family-run restaurants serve up home-cooked meals with dishes like lomo saltado (stir-fried beef with onions and tomatoes), aji de gallina (creamy chicken stew), and causa (layers of mashed potatoes filled with various toppings). These hearty and flavorful dishes will provide a true taste of Peruvian comfort food.


After indulging in the local cuisine, satisfy your sweet tooth with a dessert called mazamorra morada. This purple corn pudding is spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and fruit, offering a unique and delightful ending to your culinary journey in Huanchaco.


Exploring the local cuisine in Huanchaco is not just about satisfying your hunger; it’s a chance to learn about the cultural traditions and flavors that make this coastal town so special. So don’t miss the opportunity to tantalize your taste buds and embark on a culinary adventure in Huanchaco.


Enjoy the Traditional Totora Boat Ride

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Huanchaco by embarking on a traditional totora boat ride. These unique and historic vessels, known as “caballitos de totora,” have been used by local fishermen for thousands of years and are an integral part of the town’s identity.


Made from bundles of reeds known as totora, these small boats have a distinct crescent shape and are crafted using traditional techniques passed down through generations. Step into one of these boats and feel the connection to the ancient fishing traditions that have sustained the community for centuries.


During your totora boat ride, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the skilled oarsmanship of the local fishermen as they navigate the gentle waves. Glide along the coastline, taking in the panoramic views of the azure ocean and the charming town of Huanchaco from a unique vantage point.


The totora boat ride is not just about the experience on the water; it’s also an opportunity to learn about the cultural and ecological significance of the totora reeds. Your guide will share fascinating insights into the sustainable harvesting methods and the importance of preserving the delicate ecosystem of the Huanchaco Bay.


In addition to the rich history and cultural significance of the totora boats, the ride itself is a serene and peaceful experience. Feel the gentle rocking of the boat as you float on the calm waters, and let the tranquility wash over you. It’s a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and embrace the simplicity and beauty of nature.


For a truly immersive experience, combine your totora boat ride with a fishing demonstration. Watch skilled fishermen demonstrate their traditional fishing methods, using nets and lines to catch fish just as their ancestors did. Gain insights into their way of life and the challenges they face in sustaining their livelihoods in the modern world.


Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply enjoying a peaceful excursion on the water, a traditional totora boat ride in Huanchaco offers a unique and memorable experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the local traditions and the coastal beauty of the region.



Huanchaco is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, thrilling activities, and delectable cuisine. Whether you’re exploring the sandy beaches, delving into ancient archaeological sites, riding the waves, indulging in local flavors, or experiencing traditional boat rides, Huanchaco has something to captivate every traveler.


The beaches of Huanchaco provide a picturesque setting for relaxation, swimming, and surfing. The waves beckon beginners and experienced surfers alike, offering thrilling rides and the opportunity to experience the vibrant surf culture of the town.


Chan Chan Archaeological Site takes you back in time to the ancient Chimú civilization, offering a glimpse into their impressive architecture and cultural achievements. The intricate carvings and well-preserved structures showcase the ingenuity and artistic expression of this fascinating civilization.


To truly immerse yourself in the local culture, indulging in the mouthwatering local cuisine is a must. From savory ceviche to grilled octopus, the seafood dishes are a true delight. And don’t forget to experience the warmth and hospitality of the locals as you try traditional street foods and visit picanterias.


Finally, a traditional totora boat ride is the perfect way to connect with the town’s cultural heritage and witness the skills of local fishermen. Glide along the coastline, embrace the tranquility of the water, and learn about the sustainable harvesting practices of the totora reeds.


As you bid farewell to Huanchaco, you’ll carry with you memories of stunning beaches, fascinating history, exhilarating activities, and mouthwatering cuisine. The charm and allure of this coastal town will leave a lasting impression, enticing you to return and discover even more of its hidden treasures.


So, whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, Huanchaco is a destination that will exceed your expectations and provide an unforgettable experience.