Peru beaches: Discover the coast of Arequipa and Moquegua

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Beaches of Moquegua

Minutes from the city of Ilo, Puerto Ingles is a natural cove with a pool-like atmosphere. (Photos: Piero Sánchez Torres)
Seafood is prepared fresh in front of customers at El Paradero in Ilo. See slide show: Beaches and port charm in Ilo

Ilo is a small city that, while belonging to the region of Moquegua, maintains an independent port identity. "Let me clarify something: Moquegua is one thing, and Ilo is another," said a local reporter. "Don’t confuse them."

Moquegua and Ilo both bask in sun 365 days of the year, however, something the cities proudly share. The ride from Moquegua takes about 2.5 hours; upon arriving, Ilo’s intense sun radiated off artistically dilapidating seafront buildings from the early 20th century.

After a day touring the city with a camera team, we escaped to the first beach, Pozo de Lizas, 10 minutes from the city center. The shore stretches as far as you can see.

I bought a pair of funky orange swimming shorts for 10 soles from a beach vendor, then hopped into chilly waters. Although it is summer, Ilo is far south, getting close to Chile, so don’t hope for Caribbean temperatures. Soft sand underfoot and hefty, smooth waves make up for the cold water, however.

Pozo de Lizas on a Friday was filled with vacationers from places like Arequipa and Puno. It is always a pleasant discovery to stumble upon tourist locales in Peru not populated by foreigners, but by other Peruvians. The beach scene on the weekday was busy but serene, the people are friendly. (We were told that on weekends it gets packed, though.)

From there we jotted over to Puerto Ingles, a small cove used like a maritime amusement park. A long slide goes into the water, stairs go through the rocky outcroppings, where cement boards jut out for intrepid divers. (The teenaged boys were brave indeed, diving from more than five meters into about meter-deep, low-tide waters.) In the cove, the water was even more frigid, but that didn’t stop kids, parents, and an amorous couple from swimming around.

Overlooking Puerto Ingles, two chefs — a woman from Ilo and a man from Piura — combine forces to make prize-winning ceviche.

The sun began to drop over the Pacific, and, cameras snapping away, it felt as though we were chronicling the Ilo beaches for the first time ever.   

Beaches of Arequipa

Beaches of Arequipa.
Catarindo beach in the region of Arequipa. (Photo: todoarequipa.com. See more photos of Arequipa beaches.)

(Information from El Comercio)

If you find yourself in the city of Arequipa this summer, consider taking the 2.5 hour ride to the shore to discover the beaches of Arequipa. Buses part every hour to Mollendo — the companies Del Carpio and Santa Úrsula are most well-known — from where you can grab a taxi or colectivo to the small beach towns.

Mejía is a public beach that is perfect for a day visit. (There are no lodgings so unless you rent a beach house for the weekend, be prepared to return to Mollendo for the night.)

Only five minutes from Mollendo lies the hidden beach of Catarindo. There are nearby stands to eat: Try out Charlie’s menu, where the average plate costs arounf 25 soles. You should make plans for a taxi to return to pick you up at Catarindo.

Heading north of Mollendo is another hidden treasure, San José, which you can only get to from the port of Quilca. Stays at a bungalow in San José are managed by reservations with the company Inca Scallops. A longer vacation is recommended, say about five days. Beach dwellers can go horseback riding, kayaking, scuba diving and trekking. 
  

Map of Arequipa beaches.
The beaches of Arequipa. (Map: El Comercio)

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