I spent four days waking up and walking down a nearly deserted beach to find new spots to swim, snorkel, and body surf in the beach break. I’ll warn you now, to visit during May don’t plan on meeting to many other people. You’ll have to be good on your own or plan on spending a lot of time with the girl you bring. You could take a mototaxi into Máncora for some night life there, but I was looking forward to sleeping early, waking up early and meandering down the beach.
The beaches are occupied by small hotels and rental houses, and each of these had amazingly good restaurants. Making for easily enjoyed leisurely lunches and dinners that very casually lingered into the evening. Without fail, simply walking up to a small seven to fifteen room hotel proved to be terrific dining. The ingredients every one began with were freshly caught and from the fish market down the street and preparation and presentation were a cut above.
|Freshly caught lobster at Casa de Playa in Las Pocitas.|
I was shocked by two things: there was no conchas negras, the famous shellfish, and at most of the hotels lobster cost more than in Lima, usually 100 soles or more. So a moto taxi ride into Máncora provided a few places that came up with bowls of soup for 40 soles filled with lobster, crab, conchas negras, shrimp, and the list goes on… I needed help finishing. The Casa de Playa had the best deal on lobster in the Las Pocitas area, at 65 soles.
Now if the surf was what you were looking for, there wasn’t much that I saw when I was there. May is not the time of year for the big surf there — November through December is the season. The Máncora break itself was normally pretty crowded most of the day and a lot of waiting for the very occasional small break. So it was back to some lonely beaches further south for some body surfing in the shore break.
Kite surfing is pretty mellow during May as well. A kite surf instructor was telling me that they don’t really gear up until June and then it’s all action until the winds dies down again in January.
The prices for the hotels in Mancora ranged from $30 USD per day to $120 USD. In Las Pocitas the hotels started at $80 per night at the Casa de Playa and up to $200 plus at the others.
Casa de Playa was just finishing a remodel. The room I was in was very clean, modern electrical to plug everything in, tremendous view, quiet, and a hammock on the balcony. There is no TV or satellite cable, but there is wi-fi. In my case wi-fi is more important than TV. The staff there was excellent and security for us and our things in the room was never an issue. Usually needed the night time security guard for hailing moto taxis at night, since there were so few. I grew to become a fan of their coffee in the morning, like it when someone pays attention to the small details. The owner lives there and after the first day it was easy to recognize that everyone there was more family than employer and employee. I will stay there again.
|The sunset in Máncora.|
A little further down the beach there was the Mancora Beach Bungalows, it seemed to be the largest in the area and had an amazing ceviche, and seafood tacu tacu. It was a very family friendly hotel with a lot of areas for kids and their toys.
Literally a couple steps next door was the DCO. This hotel really did a great job of bringing a very high end spa experience into the area. The room rate is the highest in the area and there are only seven of them, and they all looked up to par for the price.
The one that came closest to reminding me of the classic isolated hotels in Hawaii was the Las Arenas de Máncora. Big grassy spaces separating bungalows lined up against the sea. Not all had ocean views, so prices varied greatly, but it was a very stunning property and a must to visit. We had the tuna tartar, a giant salad and an arroz con mariscos. Everything except the arroz con mariscos was a stand out. I was getting spoiled by then and all of the other restaurants had raised casual expectations, everything else was excellent and truly first rate. But to be honest that should have never left the kitchen.
Getting to Las Pocitas and Máncora
Fly Lan Peru to Tumbes. (Another option is flying to Piura, but the ride to Máncora from Tumbes is shorter, flatter and much more enjoyable.)
The certified taxis at the airport seemed reputable and their prices were better than calling ahead: S/.130 from Tumbes to Máncora.
So the check list should definitely include mosquito repellent and cash on the top of the list. You are going to need the repellent 24/7, it’s a fact of life in a tropical area. Once the repellant was on, life was good. There were only four cash machines in the area and they were all empty the entire time I was there. When asked about it, no one was surprised at all.
Las Pocitas as an area during May is in the Gold Class, no question about it. During their peak seasons when the crowds are in, that is for someone else to cover.