There are remote, deserted beaches around Máncora; 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, located 23km south of Máncora at the end of Los Órganos beach. Most of the diving is done from nearby petroleum platforms, with 70m descents. Expect limited visibility, 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 5 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 daytrips or overnights to nearby breaks like Los Organos, Lobitos, Talara and Cabo Blanco.
You can rent surfboards from several places at the southern end of the beach in Máncora (per hour S10, per day S20) – in front of Del Wawa is the most convenient.
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 (S50 including waiting time).
To see some of the interior of this desert coast, hire a pickup (around S75, including waiting time) to take you up the Fernández Valley, past the mud baths and on until the road ends (about 1½ hours). Continue for two hours on foot through mixed woodlands with unique birdlife to reach Los Pilares, which has pools ideal for swimming. You can also visit these areas as part of a tour.
The North Coast’s Top Five Surf Breaks
Dedicated surfers will find plenty of action on Peru’s North Coast, from the longest break in the world at Puerto Chicama to consistently good surf at Máncora. Most spots have reliable swell year-round, and there are plenty of beginner spots in between.
Los Organos Located about 14km south of Máncora. Has a rocky break with well-formed tubular waves reaching up to 2m; it’s for experienced surfers only.
Cabo Blanco A perfect pipeline ranging between 1m and 3m in height and breaking on rocks; again, experienced surfers only.
Puerto Chicama On a good day, this is the longest break in the world (up to 3km!); it has good year-round surfing for all skill levels.
Máncora Popular and easily accessible, with consistently decent surf up to 2m high; it’s appropriate for all skill levels.
Huanchaco Long and well-formed waves with a pipeline; it’s suitable for all skill levels.
Playa Lobitos Eight-plus named breaks in a back-to-basics surf setting.