What I enjoy about Chimbote is the fact that there are beaches all around and it is easy to get a taxi colective to get there.
So if you get bored by the city, frequent walks along the Malecón which frames the shore (where the beaches are sadly good for nothing as the waters in the city are badly polluted by the fishing industry), Friday night cocktails at hotel Gran Chimu or chilling around Plaza Mayor in Nuevo Chimbote where you find Catedral Nuestra Senora del Carmen y San Pedro Apostol designed by an Italian architect, you simply get onto a taxi colectivo and head to Besique, Eldorado, Casma or Tortugas to enjoy a beautiful weekend.
Besique (Vesique) is a dark sand beach with volcanic hills around where you can even find a little cave (can only be accessed at low tide). There are many beach bars and cevicherias so you can easily spend a whole day chilling and relaxing. The colectivo is 7 soles per person.
Eldorado is another beach popular among the locals which is surprising when you know it is a location well-known for the stinging rays. You get here for 3 soles and if you landscape or the beach (with its many stall vendors) do not appeal to you, you can get a small boat for 4 soles to my favourite Caleta Colorado, a beach with golden sand and turquoise water which is so different to the regular beaches around Chimbote. Though the Pacific gets extremely cold in this particular spot, the place will easily make its way to your heart.
Now, what is sadly a fact for most beaches around Chimbote, you find dead and decaying sea lions, turtles and rarely also orcas which nobody bothers to clear away. The orcas are usually babies who got entangled in the currents of the Pacific and carried away from the warm waters around Ecuador to the cold waters in the North of Peru. As for the turtles, there used to be many, Tortugas got its name thanks to them, but the fishing industry as well as other influences changed the ecosystem and brought its negative effects – which include a perceptible decrease in the turtle population (and their migration) and the frequent deaths of sea lions (some claim that they are unable to feed properly due to anchovies being fished out in massive amounts). There are many vultures in the areas who help as much as they can to deal with the corpses on the beaches but sometimes you still find the remains. And then there is the smell of course, which the locals don’t mind much and will easily set their tents and beers basically right next to the corpse if it is dried out already.
Having said that, there are places which are being looked after pretty well and if you find such, you truly want to pass the word on, so that flashpackers and Westerners like me who enjoy travelling in style too (and who appreciate beauty as they are aesthetes) can make the most of their experience. In the chilled town of Casma (8 soles from Chimbote, driving through the Panamerica, in the vicinity of which you find the pre-Incan ruins of Sechín as well as the ancient monumental complex of Chanquillo) and in the popular holiday destination of Tortugas (4 soles from Casma) you find the hotels of El Farol Inn whose owner has Italian genes and thus had the hotels built in a style which reminds you of the blue and white of Greece (in Tortugas) and of Italian ambiance (in Casma).
The first thing you notice when arriving to El Farol Inn in Casma is that it is like a green oasis in the middle of a desert, literally. Nearby, there is a view to a cerro, the street where the hotel is located is calm and the courtyard includes a flourishing garden with green lawns, flower bushes, fascinating trees and even a pet corner (with guinea pigs, hens and geese). The facilities offer a gym, a well-kept pool and a spa, where you find some amazing products such as Chinese incense and essential oils of the Just company. Trees grow in a lush green rectangle through the epicentre of the hotel complex as such too and give the whole place relaxing vibes. The rooms, though a little smaller, offer full comfort and of course – hot water and well-functioning wifi are guaranteed which is something you rarely find here and thus appreciate it even more.
I enjoyed my morning meditation seated on one of the lawns, surrounded by my beloved flowers, then a yoga session in the courtyard and afterwards the continental breakfast (eggs and ham, fresh juice, tea or coffee, bread, jam, butter) in the beautiful hotel restaurant which looks like a Balinese shala.
El Farol Inn in Tortugas will definitely give you the feeling that you have found yourself in Greece. The comfortable big rooms with breathtaking ocean views (as the hotel is situated on a hill), the huge terrace where you can chill in the evening and get to know other guests, friendly staff and the prevailing blue and white colours and marine decorations give out joyous vibes and when I compare my first time in Tortugas (here) with the recent stay, I must honestly say that El Farol Inn made my days here.
My next seaside trip is leading North from Chimbote to the more touristy destination of Trujillo. If I find a truly cool hotel in the area, I will surely mention it here.
Visiting the Sechín ruins half an hour I met three Czech adventurers from the Pangeo Tours (just when they were about to leave Peru on the Panamericana to continue to Ecuador) and we shared some good laughs and stories. They bring Europeans, mostly Czechs, to South America, on adventurous trips, in their massive “hotels on wheels”. So, if you are rather a backpacker and love road tripping, check out theirs web.