Small tiendas (stores) and bars line the streets interspersed with a large number of restaurants offering everything from fast food to typical Peruvian dishes. Markets to sell handmade crafts, t-shirts, swim wear and hats are set up in the square and along the sidewalks that line the streets. Only the main street in town is paved, the side streets are just sand and rock with most leading directly to the beach. I chose to visit during low season which is the other nine months of the year, and it turned out to be the perfect decision for me.
The beaches that run along the coast in this section of Peru are spectacular, and the water is the clear blue of the Pacific. I checked into a reasonably priced (S/.120) hotel located directly on the beach to the south of town and far enough away to avoid any noise or distractions from the crowds in town. There are places here that range from S/.10 and up per night to suit any taste or budget.
I could walk onto the deck in front of my room and look down on the beach every morning. After watching some amazing sunsets, the sounds of the waves crashing onto shore lulled me to sleep every night. It was a very relaxing setting and a perfect place and time to go and refresh the soul. Walks on the beach every day led to discoveries that delighted the eyes and at times I would be the only person there for as far as the eye could see in both directions. Luxurious palm trees swayed in the gentle breezes and the rare cloud sailed lazily across the sky giving you the “I am in Paradise” feeling.
For those so inclined there are many activities to be enjoyed here. I noted people para-surfing using the strong breezes to whisk them across the water’s surface. There were young men offering horseback rides passing by on the beach every day. You could see people kayaking, riding Sea Doos and snorkeling just off the beach.
Surfing is a big sport here but I think high season is the best time for that activity. For camera buffs, the opportunity for taking some great photos is everywhere. Old fishing boats lying in dry docks, flocks of sea birds soar overhead and dive into the ocean looking for their meals, fishermen repairing their nets, scenic seascapes and the hard working fishermen sailing their rafts back into shore after spending the morning at sea catching fish, are just a few I can mention.
Vendors walked the beaches everyday selling everything from ice cream to jewelry. None were pushy and easily took no for an answer. Smiles and friendly greetings came from everyone I passed. I enjoyed seeing the small crabs on the beach skittering about, the small birds who would join me for breakfast every morning and the interesting rock formations that occurred every so often on the beach.
Walking to the pier to see the fishing boats docked from their morning catch and riding the Tuk Tuk (moto-taxis) into town for a brief visit to the local market helped to pass time. In the evening just before the sun went down, you would see lovers walking the beach holding hands as daylight slowly faded into night. It was then that the air would get a little cool and you might require a light jacket or sweatshirt to keep the chill off.
There are small beach towns both to the south and north of Máncora and each seemed to have places to stay to fit almost any taste. These towns seemed to be a bit more relaxed and tranquil so if you wanted to stay in a place that didn’t have a bar or disco on every corner you might want to pick one of those.
The drive between Máncora and Tumbes is interesting in itself. You pass through everything from rice fields as far as the eye can see, shrimp farms on the coast, to the desert type landscapes around Máncora. There were parts of this particular area that reminded me of the Painted Desert in Arizona in the United States. There were bands of multicolored earth and rock with blue, yellow, green, orange and reds arranged like a rainbow. All this makes for a wonderful drive along this section of coast in Peru. It was quite extraordinary.
If you are already living here or coming to Peru for a nice vacation, I highly recommend that you try to visit this area. I don’t think you will regret it at all.