There are remote, deserted beaches around Máncora that are superior to the town beach; ask your hotel to arrange a taxi or give you directions by bus and foot, but be prepared to walk several kilometers.
Diving & Snorkeling
The snorkeling and diving aren't great here, but an afternoon excursion can be fun. Snorkeling tours (S80) take you out to swim with sea turtles along the pier of a small fishing village called El Ñuro, 23km south of Máncora at the end of Los Organos beach. Most of the diving is done from nearby petroleum platforms, with dives to depths of around 70m. Expect limited visibility and schools of fish and octopus.
Surfing & Kitesurfing
Surf here is best from November to February, although good waves are found year-round and always draw dedicated surfers. The best expert break in town is Punta Ballenas, a steep point break with a rocky bottom that's located about five minutes' walk south of the main beach. Máncora beach itself has great beach breaks that are suitable for all abilities (but can get pretty crowded). Definitely consider taking long day or overnight trips to nearby breaks such as Los Organos, Lobitos, Talara and Cabo Blanco.
You can rent surfboards (per hour/day S10/20) from several places at the southern end of the beach in Máncora – in front of Del Wawa is the most convenient. Classes are offered around town for S50 to S60 per hour, including equipment.
May through September offers the best kitesurfing in Máncora and there are several schools at the southern end of town.
About 11km east of town, up the wooded Fernández valley, a natural hot spring has bubbling water and powder-fine mud – perfect for a face pack. The slightly sulfurous water and mud is said to have curative properties. The hot spring can be reached by mototaxi (S60, including waiting time).
To see some of the interior of this desert coast, hire a vehicle (around S100 to S150, including waiting time) to take you up the Fernández valley, past the mud baths and on until the road ends (about an hour) at the hamlet of Fernández.
Hire a guide in the village and continue for two hours on foot through mixed woodlands with unique birdlife to reach Los Pilares, which has pools ideal for swimming. It's best not to visit during periods of heavy rain when the access becomes difficult. You can also visit these areas as part of a tour.