South America Living

Travel, Dine, Live… Like A Local


Huanchaco, Peru – Cheap Place To Live In South America

Surfers Hanging-out in Huanchaco

As you can tell from the photo to the left, Huanchaco, Peru is a popular surfing spot.

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This Pacific coast town is also a popular location for Peruvians and International travelers on holiday seeking some time in the sun and sand (while offered cold drinks and snacks from friendly local beach vendors).

Many are on more than a vacation – visiting the town to meet with realtors and shop for their holiday home.

Located on Peru’s Pacific coast approximately 300 miles (483 km) north of the capital city Lima, you can either bus to the town (8.5 hrs) or fly into Trujuillo Airport (TRU) – only one hour from Lima.   Trujuillo Travel Information

There is no better depiction of the laid-back, traditional Peruvian culture present in Huanchaco than the reed boats (“Caballitos de Totora” in Spanish) lining the seawall and used daily by local fishermen. Reed boats are thin canoe-shaped structures that boaters ride on top of instead of sitting inside while paddling.

Another attraction is the small mercado (market in English) whose size is not representative of the cultural experience you will get pushing your way through the ‘too narrow for comfort’ shop-lined passageways abuzz with chatter and bartering. Think you are being asked a bit much for that chunk of cheese or half-chicken? Flash a friendly smile and ask for a your bill to be a few soles less… chances are you’ve made a deal!

If finishing your market trip in the early evening, stroll about 6 blocks or so south and over four to the seaside to take a walk on the wildside… I mean on “El Muelle” (the pier in English) and enjoy dazzling views of the sun setting on the horizon.

The pier is a landmark of Huanchaco along with a Baroque-style church perched on a cliff overlooking the pier and bay.

Many come to this area to view the Chan Chan archeological site - ancient ruins (made out of mud) of Chimor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chan Chan is a short 15 minute bus ride from Huanchaco, located just 5 km ( miles) to the southeast.

Another nearby attraction is the open-air modern shopping mall located just 15 minutes from downtown Huanchaco. This is where to go for International-cuisine restaurants, shops and enjoy a film in the multi-plex movie theater.

Finding a rental won’t be overly difficult in Huanchaco, and much easier to obtain when planning your arrival outside of the high-season summer months (December through March).

Low-cost hostals that can function as short-term ‘hospedajes’ (lodging in English) are numerous. Get yourself situated for a week or two, ask around for available apartments or houses and you should have suitable accomodation in no time.

Basic, minimally furnished apartments can be found for $200 – $300 USD per month – perfect for those on a $800 USD per month budget. Basic meals can be had for $2 USD – look for the ‘menú del dia’ (meal of the day). You will have to splurge a bit more for seafood, but a large plate of fried calimari for around $5 USD is cause to complain? I think not :)   Enjoy your stay!

Highlights:

  • The city of Trujillo – with all its ammenities including an airport – is only 20 minutes away
  • Lovely waterfront promenade for long walks or runs
  • A steady-stream of tourists (less during winter) from all over the world to meet and interact with (speaking English!)

Drawbacks:

  • Very small town (next to nil town center) with mainly traditional restaurants (yet wonderful seafood) and shopping.
  • From June to September there are many cloudy days with little sunshine (and few tourists)

Interactive Map of Huanchaco


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Photograph by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.