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North Peru Beach Towns Draw Tourists With Surfing, Partying

While in Peru, the default route is usually hopping a flight to Cusco to tackle the Macchu Picchu trail before, at best, adding a dip into Lima for some fine dining and a gallery or two. But for an itinerary less traveled, head north from Lima along the Pan-American Highway and keep going until you nearly reach Ecuador. There, you’ll find the relatively balmy waters of Mancora, a seaside town with a sizzling reputation among South American vacationers for all-day beaching and all-night partying. Think Thailand’s Koh Samui and Koh Phangan before they were fully developed. Get in while the waves are less crowded than other surfing hot spots and the prices are relatively affordable. Here are a few tips to get you started…

Where to Stay

Unless you’re looking for Full Moon parties, for which it’s probably better to stay in Mancora proper, head just 10 minutes south on the motorized tuk-tuk taxi (about 5 soles each way) to Mancora Chico, or more commonly: Las Pocitas. This gem of a beach is actually connected to Mancora’s own stretch of sand, so you could walk along the ocean during the day to town. But Las Pocitas is where the bulk of nice accommodations are, including the outstanding Hotel Las Pocitas which has been in operation for 20-plus years. If you’re expecting luxury, Mancora is probably not for you — unless you’re willing to commit to renting a multiroom beachfront villa. Instead, Hotel Las Pocitas offers all beachfront but rustic rooms — it literally feels like you’re sleeping on the beach with the waves crashing as soundtrack — and a friendly staff. Rooms are well-maintained and spotless with rates during high season going between $80-$125.

Then, Hotel DCO Suite & Spa is also a tourist favorite with more modern finishes. The downside? The beachfront is dotted with rocks — Las Pocitas was named for the small pools that form behind these rocks with tidal changes, making it a great beach for little ones — and the location is far enough down the sandy stretch that it feels a bit remote.

What to Do

Mancora revolves around the trinity of beach, food and drink. For the daytime, stroll along Las Pocitas beach, perhaps grabbing lunch at Cucin Amore before heading to Mancora to rent a surfboard at Victor’s (along the waterfront, board rental is surprisingly cheap at about $4 for two hours) to catch a late afternoon into early evening ride. Check out the tidal charts beforehand, as high tide is best; during low tide you’ll likely run your board into sand or coral. The waves are long, smooth and rolling in Mancora, making it a great spot for beginners too.

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