Huanchaco – Chillout, Surfing and Good Vibes in Peru

When the week is coming to its end and I am closing my last workshop class for the week (with the dearly beloved kids I am teaching here) with my clothes stained by various paints, more blisters on my hands from crayon sharpening, appreciating the work of cleaning ladies as never before, I am always looking forward to another adventure somewhere around Chimbote where my blog and social networks take me for some entertaining work to do.

This time my boss and friend Juan Carlos and I went to see and review a couple of places in Huanchaco, a little town which can easily make its way to your heart as it is surfers´ paradise with amazing Australian-like good beach vibes and lots of partying and chilling.

The way on the bus though was a nightmare. I don’t think I have ever seen as much violence in my life as yes, I do not watch the news (I find info online), don’t own a TV and carefully choose which movie I am willing to see in the cinema. In the three hours spent on the bus where two extremely loud American action movies were screening one after the other, with so much killing and screaming and terrible scenes such a woman watching her husband being violently tortured and killed by some terrorists, I got really sick with what I had seen and what I was forced to listen to (how bizarre, really, though every single seat of the luxurious bus had an audio socket for headphones to be plugged in, nobody was using those and the movie sound was simply played out – really loud – for the whole bus to hear)! When I tried to talk to the bus driver (over a phone machine present on the bus, as nobody can reach the cabin of the driver which is locked and carefully insulated with non-transparent interior windows) and later to a bus guard at a stop they both responded with something like: “Oh, it is not too loud, it is a good movie.” Apparantely, most people on the bus probably thought the same…

Well, some of you already know I have an ear condition so if the sound was loud to me I don’t know what it must have been to healthy ears… By the way, the first movie screened ended up with a happy ending of apes winning over humans and gaining the beautiful planet earth, in the second one I believe (did not get to see the end) the terrorists won.

A siesta was impossible even with earplugs in… but, more on the loud sound in Peruvian culture later…

Trust me, when I reached the hotel in Huanchaco which was meant to be my home for the next couple of days (taking a taxi from Trujillo for like 10 – 15 minutes), I was so grateful. Not only is Hotel Riviera Muchik a truly clean and well-located hotel situated right at the seafront with the lobby overlooking the ocean, but it is amazingly quiet! I mean, you really don’t hear any noise from the corridors or from the adjacent rooms. What a blessing, seriously, a perfect place to help me gain back tranquillity after the terrible bus ride.

If you plan to stay at this hotel when in Huanchaco, make sure you book in advance to get a room with the ocean view, because the side or back rooms are nice (with really cool bathrooms) but you don’t get to see the wavy waters which to me is the magic of seafront hotels really…

Even if the capacity of the hotel does not allow you to have your room with a view though, you can always go downstairs to chill at the lobby, get a drink and work on your laptop like I did. The ocean is literally a few meters away and the massive windows of the hotel front allow you to get a feeling of an intimate proximity with the waters…

Right outside the hotel, you can go swimming (but carefully at low tide, there are sharp stones and reefs in several places), surfing (there is a surfing school next to the hotel) or rent one of the traditional reed watercrafts, caballitos de totora, which are made from the same reed, the totora, used by the Uru people on Lake Titicaca, and are considered part of the Peruvian’s National Cultural Heritage since 2016.

If you like shopping for artisanal objects, you are bound to fall in love with Huanchaco as you find artsy shops and stalls along the beach and some of the goods really capture your attention. Artists from various parts of Peru or other countries of Latin America are selling there products along the beach promenade. I love the metal and stone earrings made by Roman from Chiclayo (not because his name sounds Czech but because he really is a talented young man) and the bead necklaces made by Shakti from Colombia, whose energy will make you want to come for more of her art, as it truly breaths good vibes.

You encounter street artists and musicians and cool ezo places such as the Mandala beach bar and hostel.

Take a little stroll up the local hill to Santuario de la Virgen del Socorro, a church above town which is certainly worth a visit as it was built between 1535 and 1540 and is supposedly the second oldest church in Peru. Some amazing views will open up to you once you are standing by the church.

My favourite café in Huanchaco is undoubtedly Chocolate Café, a unique place with a garden (not so common in Peru) offering amazing breakfasts, snacks and juices for very reasonable prices. The stuff is always smiling and welcoming and the interior design hints that the owner of the place is of European background.

Even though Crêpes SoL received by 0.2 better rating on Tripadvisor than Chocolate Café, I dare claim that the pancakes in Chocolate Café are much tastier – and the range of flavours is wider. Crêpes SoL is a mediocre pancake place with no terrace, view or a garden… Just see for yourself…

Now, as mentioned previously, Peruvian people love it loud. Saturday night in Huanchaco gets crazy with different electronic beats sounding from adjacent clubs. Actually, sometimes you even get different types of beats shouting down in the same club – one from the DJ, another from the bar speakers upstairs on a terrace… I am serious when I say that I heard four different types of music all at ones in one place on my Saturday night out… It IS insane! Either you give up, or you drink a lot, or you get stoned or you practice the yogic pratyahara and dharana and concentrate on one rhythm only which you make prevailing in your perception.

This practice seemed no longer possible around 2 am when a lot of people basically just started arriving to the club. I was the only one leaving – but my boss was cool enough to accompany me to the hotel and we got the best fried fast food I have ever eaten in my life: papa rellena, a stuffed potato with a lot of veggies. It tasted heavenly that late at night…

Now, you probably recollect me mentioning several times that the most important food of the day for me is breakfast. Then it is lunch. I can do without dinner. This kind of schedule is obviously very different to that of South America so sometimes I have to deal with merely juice for breakfast or bread and jam… If you become desperate like me, longing for a proper substantial breakfast, there is no better place for you in Huanchaco than the vegetarian restaurant called Otra Cosa, where you get some amazing breaky offers such as pancakes, pastries with guacamole and eggs, cereals, yoghurts, fruits, I mean – just name it… I ate one full breakfast deal and a half of my friend´s one (massive portions) and you would not believe how happy it made me though I almost could not move with my belly that stuffed.

For dinner, I recommend the seafood grill at El Tramboyo restaurant where the food is fresh and the salsas and garlicy sauces a thrill. However, the portions are not too big, so go with an appetizer and a main dish – certainly not a place where you want to share one meal with your loved one or you end up fighting for the last piece – cause the food is divine!

If you wish to spend some time in the city of Trujillo too, I recommend the colourful historic centre with its colonial architecture, many lovely cafés and artisanal markets and shops.

Get lunch in one of the restaurants around Plaza de Armas and then come back to Huanchaco for a marvellous sunset – seriously, this place is a paradise for those who love romantic purplish sunsets.

The area of Trujillo and Huanchaco is a part of the Moche Valley, named after the pre-Incan Moche culture, which was succeeded by the Chimú culture. The Chimús created the capital city of Chan Chan and were later conquered by the Inca emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui (around 1470, fifty years before the arrival of the Spanish into the region).

The Chimús worshipped the moon, unlike the Inca whose centre of attention was the sun. The peaceful, tranquil lunar yin energy is present in the Moche Valley even nowadays and I strongly believe it is what brings people over for relaxing vacations, including Westerners (though their presence is still more common in the golden sand beaches of Máncora, where the waters are warmer, similar to those in Ecuador).

When you visit the Chan Chan ruins you might be surprised by how well-preserved they are. If you pay for a guide you learn some very interesting facts, such as that the most common offering for the Chimús was the shell of the Spondylus shellfish, which nowadays resides only in the warm coastal waters off present-day Ecuador. 

My special experience from Chan Chan was encountering for the first time in my life perro peruano, Peruvian Inca Orchid, which is hairless and which I loved immediately for its warm skin. No need to stress out these dogs are intelligent, loving and protective of their master. As if that was not enough, I am the kind of person who gets always a little cold just with a bit of wind swirling around, I love hot temperatures and dry climate – this dog would be perfect for me. I can imagine myself cuddling it every time I get cold in the winter months in my country but I don’t think perro peruano would be very happy there… its roots are here, with the Incas…

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