The Top Things to See and Do in Huanchaco

Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip
Photo of Brandon Dupre
31 October 2017

Huanchaco has gained popularity amongst travelers in Peru with its beautiful beaches, good waves and ancient traditions. If you aren’t surfing or eating some of Peru’s best ceviche then you’re learning about Peru’s pre-Inca civilizations who once ruled the arid shores of Peru’s coastline. Here is our guide for the best things to do in Huanchaco, one of Peru’s most popular and storied beach towns.


In 2012, Huanchaco was approved as a World Surfing Reserve by the Save The Waves Coalition and continues to support a large contingency of surfers. The beach continues to be one of the most friendly beaches to learn how to surf in Peru because of the easy-to-ride waves and plenty of access to surfboards and instructors. With year-round swell and an active surf culture, Huanchaco is a must-stop surf spot and quite possibly the birth place of surfing.

Mia Spingola / | © Culture Trip

Eat ceviche

Considered the birth place of ceviche, Huanchaco continues that legacy, offering plenty of ceviche options all over the beach town, from cheap offerings to more high-end ones. You can eat in the back of a market for a couple soles or you can dine at ceviche fusions restaurants like Restaurante Mococho. Order some ceviche from one of the many beachfront locations and enjoy a beautiful ocean view with your fresh fish.

Mia Spingola / | © Culture Trip

Visit Chan Chan

Chan Chan was once one of the largest cities in the Americas and the cultural hub of Peru. These ancient ruins – the largest adobe city in the world – are only a short bus ride away from Huanchaco. There are English guides who offer tours of the city for only 20 soles per person and give details of the city, its many intricate designs and of the Chimu culture.

© Mia Spingola/Culture Trip

Watch history

Every morning, along the shores of Huanchaco, you’ll find fishermen riding caballitos de totora out to sea just as they’ve been doing for thousands of years. The boats, which are made out of reeds from a nearby marsh, are one of the reasons why tourism has exploded in this beach town. The iconic boats and their fishermen are alone worth the stop in Huanchaco.

Mia Spignola / | © Culture Trip

Learn to build a boat

Due to the huge tourist interest in caballitos de totora you can now find fishermen willing to show you how to build their famous boats, the instructions of which have been passed down for thousands of years.

Mia Spignola / © Culture Trip | Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip


If you’re a traveler looking for a place to volunteer, look no further than Huanchaco. You’ll have options to teach kids in the community how to surf, to build houses, work at an animal shelter and help with after school programs. Huanchaco is an exciting beach city with plenty of volunteer options to choose from.

Mia Spingola / | © Culture Trip

Ride a reed boat

There might be nothing better to do in Huanchao than trying to ride and, if you dare, surf on a caballitos de totora. While it isn’t advertised everywhere, all you have to do is go to the beach and ask one of the fishermen – some of the surf schools also offer chances to ride the reed boats. Good luck – it’s a lot harder than it looks.

Mia Spingola / | © Culture Trip

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