Punta Sal: My winter beach escape


_My eyes are closed. I feel sunlight and shadows softly dancing on my face. A cool, light breeze carries with it the scent of the ocean. I inhale deeply, a reflex one not used to the outdoors quickly accustoms to. The soft, rhythmic sound of the waves lulls me into a lethargic state of relaxation I hope to never wake from. A distinct silence hangs in the air; the silence felt is not one void of sound, but the rush of sounds longed for in the tranquility of the moment._

Living several years in Peru has allowed me to embrace all things Peruvian; amazing food, temperamental people, crazy bus drivers, breathtaking sights, endless exploration.

There is, however, one aspect to this old world country that compares our relationship to that of a distant, disdainful lover: the winter season. Each year some new weather phenomenon promises a less cold, slightly more bearable winter; yet once again, here I am. Dressed in layers of clothes, I am forced to fully accept the inconvenient truth of the matter: there is no remedy to a world without sun.

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Hailing from the tropical islands of the Philippines, the tireless search for all things _‘beach’_ is never ending: the sun’s warmth, the sand between my toes, coconut trees, the sound of the ocean waves breaking onto shore, the salty breeze– it never escapes you.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect as this cold, grey, wet bleakness that enshrouds Lima during winter prompts an exodus, a temporary escape to my favorite beach in Peru. With this in mind I pack my things and head to the airport to catch a short plane ride out of Lima. Arriving, I take a three hour trip by van to finally reach my destination, the beautiful shores of Punta Sal.

Located in the north of Peru, this stretch of beach belonging to the Tumbes region is connected to other beaches in the area, and is a mere 20 minutes away from Mancora, a popular beach haven tourists flock to with its budget-friendly hostels and raucous party scenes.

Perfectly situated on the beachfront is Hua, the unusually named little lodging that hosts us. Hua is owned by a lovely, seasoned couple: Pepe, who was born in the nearby province of Talara, and Marisol, who comes from Lima.

The rustic lodge with its thatched roof, bamboo posts, and aged wooden floors, worn out by the happy shuffle of countless feet that have come for the singular quest of escape and enjoyment, has a minimalistic feel to it only a true beach lover would appreciate. The lodge’s best asset is not so much the comforts one looks for while vacationing, but rather its surroundings that, every morning, awake the senses, and get lost in throughout the day.

The easy access to the beach, which is mere meters from their outdoor restaurant, provides a quick escape to the cool waters of the ocean, and back again, for a nice cold beer and perhaps, a delicious option from their broad choice of dishes and fresh seafood menu.

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_(Photo: Flor Bojorquez)_

Although the weather is perfect all year round, for us this time of year is the best time to visit. During the month of June, there aren’t many people and the beaches remain clear of human activity that can tend to spoil the scenery.

Marisol recounts the history of this beautiful place and how it came about.

“Thirty years ago life here was very different,” she recalls. “This used to be a very small town inhabited by people working in the petrol business. They owned small houses and settled here with their families.

“There was nothing around these parts. We didn’t even have electrical lines running through this area! We ran this place by candlelight,” she laughs, with an incredulous tone.

As the popularity of travel and vacationing grew, a new crowd of people started coming from Lima who, seeing the possibilities, began to build their own private getaways, developing the area to make this beachfront their home.

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_(Photo: Flor Bojorquez)_

“They began to construct houses here, making this a more private community. Because of this, you don’t see a major influx of foreigners or visitors around here. It is not a main tourist attraction.”

This is easily noted as the hotel sits between beautiful homes, for now all closed up, devoid of people, waiting to spring to life once again as vacation season approaches. Travelers who are quick to find their little nook by the beach attribute their discovery to the wonders of the Internet and social media, or simply through word of mouth.

So what is it about Punta Sal that has me coming back?

As the sun sets and I take in the immense beauty of the emblazoned sky, as the appearance of giant brushstrokes perform a symphony of colors, it all becomes quite clear.

Marisol explains to me the meaning of the word Hua, which is an old gypsy word meaning _to escape, disappear, get lost_. Knowing it’s meaning suddenly gives this place a beautiful, magical quality that holds significantly true: Punta Sal provides that escape, that chance to get away from the cold dread of reality and enjoy the beauty of life, all the while still retaining that familiar feeling of belonging, of being home.

For more information or reservations you can check their website to northern Peru to find sun and rejuvenation.