Sand is an essential ingredient in most Huacachina activities.
You can rent basic sandboards all over town for S5 to S8 an hour to slide, surf or ski your way down the dunes, getting sand lodged into every bodily orifice. Snowboarding this isn’t. There are no tow ropes or chairlifts here. Instead you must stagger up the sugary dunes for your 45-second adrenaline rush. Make sure you are given wax (usually in the form of an old candle) when you rent your board as they are pretty useless without regular rubdowns. Start on the smaller slopes and don’t be lulled into a false sense of security – several people have seriously injured themselves losing control of their sandboards. Most riders end up boarding belly down with their legs splayed out behind as emergency brakes. Don’t forget to keep your mouth shut.
Many hotels offer thrill-rides in areneros (dune buggies) which head out early morning (8am-ish) and late afternoon (4pm-ish) to avoid the intense sun. They then stop at the top of the soft slopes, from where you can sandboard down and be picked up at the bottom
After a serious accident involving an inexperienced driver claimed the lives of two travelers in mid-2018 and injured many others, buggy rides were prohibited while the authorities looked into the incident.
While it's likely that buggy rides will be given the go ahead again – they are a big part of the local economy – it remains to be seen if the authorities take serious action to regulate the industry and cut out cowboy operators.
If you plan on taking a trip, ask around before choosing an operator. Make sure cameras are well protected, as sand can be damaging.
The going rate for tours is S45 but ask first if sandboard rental is included and how long the tour lasts. Tours do not include a fee of S4, which must be paid upon entering the dunes (this doesn’t apply to those entering on foot).
Litter is an issue on Huacachina’s dunes, as it is in much of Peru. It ought to go without saying, but pack out all your rubbish when you visit these beautiful, sandy behemoths.
Swimming & Boating
The lagoon’s murky waters supposedly have curative properties, which is great because you run a good chance of getting a nasty ear infection if you go in. A more inviting option are the hotel pools (of which there are half a dozen).
You can also hire boats – both rowing and pedal-powered – at a couple of points on the lagoon for S12 an hour.