Located off the main Panamericana highway, the pleasant beach town of Mollendo doesn't get too many travelers and is mostly visited by a few intrepid surfers, plus a seasonal influx of beach-starved arequipeños (inhabitants of Arequipa). It is by far the prettiest beach town of the southern south coast, with a bunch of cool two-story wood buildings dating back 100 years. The village itself slopes down to an arcing beach.
Mollendo’s history testifies to occupations by the Incas and the Chileans. More notoriously, it was the birthplace of Abimael Guzmán, aka Presidente Gonzalo, the philosophy professor turned political agitator who became leader of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in 1980. Among nonsunbathers, Mollendo is revered for its bird reserve at the nearby Lagunas de Mejía. The town can be a little lacking in atmosphere (and people for that matter) outside of the summer season (January to April).