Not many visitors to Peru are aware that it may have been the birthplace of surfing. Here in Huanchaco, however—a coastal suburb of bustling Trujillo that drifts at a much slower pace—the traditional reed boats known as caballitos de totora are considered to be the world’s first surf craft. When strolling along the oceanfront promenade that runs through Huanchaco’s downtown, you’re sure to see plenty of the pointy reed boats scattered about the sand. Rather than simply taking a picture, however, get the firsthand experience by hiring a guide to paddle you out in the surf. With the cool water splashing your legs as you rest firmly on the boat made of reeds, you get the feeling of how Huanchaco’s fisherman have been riding these waves for centuries.
Back in town after your session on the water, grab a table at an ocean view restaurant for the perfect plate of ceviche. With just the right amount of aji spice, Huanchaco is considered by many travelers to have the best ceviche in Peru, and it’s the perfect complement to a mellow evening of watching the sun set over the Pacific.
Huanchaco is also Surf City, Peru, and this is one of the best places on the Peruvian coastline for learning to ride a wave. For those who prefer to stay land based, the archeological sights of Trujillo are only a short taxi ride away, although there are a few sights in Huanchaco itself if you’d prefer to stroll about town. One such sight is the Santuario de la Virgen del Socorro, a white, Colonial, hilltop church which, having been constructed in 1535, is the second oldest church in Peru. Or, for an authentic Huanchaco experience, take a walk through the downtown market to watch local fishermen hawk their catch as fish flop around on the floor. Funky, laidback, and with the sweet smell of sea salt, Huanchaco is the perfect beachside suburb for basing yourself in Trujillo.
Huanchaco is located seven miles outside of Trujillo and is accessible by private taxi ($3-$5). The summer months of January-March are the best for tanning at the beach, although the winter months of May through September are often cloudy and cool. For surfers, the swell is consistent throughout the year, and sea temperatures range from 62 degrees in winter to 72 degrees in summer.