From the edge of the Andes – where the rich ecosystem of the Humboldt Current washes against the coasts – to the dry tropical forest of the northern shoreline, the beaches of Peru are as diverse as its people and cultures.
Peru has more than 2500km (1553 miles) of coastline decorated with plenty of impressive beaches. Moving along the coast from south to north, these are our top 10.
1. Barlovento – Ica
Anyone looking to reel in corvina (sea bass) or lenguado (a type of sole) should definitely consider visiting Barlovento. Located between the limits of Pisco and Ica, it's one of the best spots for lining up some of the Peruvian coast's most precious fish.
There are no accommodations available at Barlovento, and getting there requires a two-hour drive off-road from the nearest highway, though you can set up camp at the edge of the monumental dunes you'll find when you get there. It's an isolated destination, but well worth going off the beaten path to experience what will likely be the best hand-pole fishing you could ever have.
2. Paracas – Ica
In the coastal desert of Ica, brimming with colossal colonies of sea lions and seabirds, like the Guanay cormorant, is the town of Paracas. This rich peninsula hosts one of Peru's most important marine wildlife sanctuaries, which you can venture to by car to visit La Mina, Mendieta, Playa Roja and Yumaque – secluded beaches exposed to amber desert cliffs facing clear blue waters.
Planning tip: A wide range of beach hotels, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts, show off in front of the bay, offering the perfect scenario to practice windsurfing and kite surfing.
3. Cerro Azul – Cañete
The legendary Beach Boys mentioned the surfing hub of Cerro Azul in their first major hit, “Surfin’ Safari,” released in 1962. This picturesque town is at the edge of the fertile valley formed by the Cañete River and is graced with a long pier, an extensive stretch of fine sand and great hospitality. Known as a popular destination among families, Cerro Azul’s charming fishing village also attracts visitors to hang out near the beach and enjoy fresh ceviche.
Local tip: For surfers, catching a wave by Eagle Rock and riding it all the way down to the pier before walking back to the beach is a fun experience, even after the sun has set.
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4. Tuquillo – Ancash
Hidden in the cliffs of Huarmey, about four hours north of Lima, is the secluded beach of Tuquillo. From mountains to sand dunes and rocky cliffs, this distinct beach spot hosts curious caves, lagoons and peculiar rock formations.
Once awarded an eco-beach prize for its conservation, Tuquillo is a lesser-visited beach offering vast space to stretch out on a blanket and enjoy the clear waters.
Detour: Make sure to explore La Pocita, a small neighboring beach known for its graceful aquamarine tide pools.
5. Puerto Viejo – Lima
Many will say the main draw of Puerto Viejo is the surfing, but this beach is the perfect weekend getaway. Only an hour and a half from Lima proper, the seemingly never-ending beach hosts a fun spot for families and friends. Wetlands by the beach at Puerto Viejo result in a natural ecosystem that hosts a variety of migratory birds.
Local tip: Take the family or a group of friends for a picnic on the shore before heading out for a surf session. If lucky, you may catch a wave in the company of dolphins – a surreal experience that will recharge your batteries enough to eventually head back to city life.
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6. El Silencio – Lima
Only a 40-minute drive from Lima in the Punta Hermosa area, the sandy beach called El Silencio makes a perfect full-day seaside escape from the city, so naturally it attracts a large crowd of Limeño beach lovers.
Thanks to refreshing water temperatures that average 20ºC (68°F) during summer months (January to March), visitors can enjoy a dip in bouncy waters with no breaking waves. The rush of excitement happens when the waves sweep the sand smoothly, allowing for some real splashy fun.
7. Chicama – Trujillo
Located north of Trujillo in the valley and birthplace of major pre-Columbian civilizations, Chicama’s waters are great for surfers of all abilities, even beginners. Also known as Puerto Malabrigo, this long stretch of beach has waves that can be ridden for more than 1km (0.6 miles) – such a long distance that boat service is available to avoid paddling back.
Planning tip: You’ll find plenty of accommodations and restaurants along the beachfront, which are great for warming up after surfing, as the water is frigid in the cooler months (May to November). Be sure to bring a wet suit and enjoy the ride!
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8. Lobitos – Piura
An old fishing settlement with a history of oil extraction dating back to the late-19th century, Lobitos was recently developed as a tourist destination for surfers, satisfying beginners and professionals alike. It's considered a hub for those seeking perfect waves at the westernmost point of continental South America.
9. Los Órganos – Piura
If you’re looking for a complete beach experience that includes tranquil water for kids, lazing around in the warm sun and surfing, this is the perfect spot. Located at the small fishing village of Los Órganos, this lovely stretch of sand provides activities for all ages, whether it's a surfing lesson, a snorkeling session, hand-pole fishing or whale watching.
Planning tip: With a few first-rate beach hotels and plenty of houses to rent, there is something for every beach lover's taste. Consider preparing your own ceviche by buying fresh fish from local fishers.
10. Punta Sal – Tumbes
For those looking for warm waters and tranquility, Punta Sal is a serene setting with long sandy beaches open to exploration, located at Peru’s northern tip in the Tumbes region. It's also a dream destination for fishing enthusiasts, from spearfishing to hand-pole fishing to taking a deep-sea fishing charter.
Planning tip: Punta Sal offers an ideal spot for luring species such as tuna and barracuda. Be sure to book in advance with a legitimate charter operator.