Packing your bags for Peru? Excited for the Lima beaches? Well, unfortunately, if your plans are to stay in a nice AirBnb in MiraFlores, I’m afraid you might be disappointed with the “beach scene.” As world travelers, I think we hold certain expectations for our beaches. I mean, why shouldn’t we? We’re paying for rest and relaxation. However, the beaches that are the most accessible simply don’t have sand, but instead, are filled with rocks and trash. To get the most out of your time in Peru, I want to give you a way to discover all of the cultural treasures Lima has to offer while still enjoying the beaches. Here’s how to find the beaches with sand and the postcard beauty that South America can offer.
Perfecting Your Beach Day
After my first Lima-beach experience of rocks and rough waves, I decided to do some research of the pretties beaches around that weren’t too far away. Now, if you’re looking for what is closest to Lima, I would definitely recommend Punto Hermosa (only an hour away from Lima) or Cerro Azul (only two and a half hours from Lima). However, if you’re looking for a truly exceptional beach trip that includes kayaking, a board walk, and even a National Park tour along with the sandy beach and sunset you always dreamed of, Paracas is the place to go.
How to Get to Paracas From Lima
One of the cheapest ways to get to Paracas is by taking the bus. Of course, this is a suggestion for those of us who don’t have a car. My husband and I took Cruz de Sur located on Javier Prado. Paracas is 242 km (162 miles) from Lima, so your trip will take around three and a half hours. Cruz de Sur has plenty to offer with free movies and music to make your trip go faster.
Pro Tip: If you do take the bus, get seats on the top level and as close to the front as possible. It makes your ride go that much smoother.
Another option is carpooling. You can catch a “collectivo” at Atocongo bridge for 30 soles, which requires waiting on the drivers to fill their cars with other passengers until the car has four people. Once loaded, it takes around two and a half hours to get to Paracas and they will drop you off in at ‘Paracas cruce.’ This option is definitely cheaper though you sacrifice your personal space!
Once you arrive at the bus station, you can easily walk outside and get a taxi to your hostel. Or if you’re only staying for a day, you can head to Playa Chaco to jump straight into your beach day. I highly recommend staying for at least two or three days. There’s so much to enjoy and take in that it will leave you wishing you had stayed longer.
Once you’re settled in, you can stroll out onto the main beach and soak up the sun. There are plenty of local restaurants located directly behind the beach in case you get hungry. The boardwalk is full of vendors advertising trinkets, live music at night, and local foods you can try. But if you’re looking for the postcard beauty of turquoise water and white sand, the best way to get there is by finding a ride to the surrounding beaches. You can book your beach day with a tour company or simply catch a taxi to the beach of your choice. We arranged for a taxi driver to drive us around for the day for 40 soles.
Pro-Tip: If you’re a backpacker looking for a social hostel that’s located right on the beach, check out Hostel Kokopelli Paracas. They have their own bar, game room, pool, kayak rentals, and affordable prices for your beach stay. Two thumbs up for their customer service!
Playa La Mina
La Mina was definitely our favorite beach. Though it’s not as remote as it used to be, the water is cold, the sand is white, and the water is clear. You may even be lucky enough to swim with dolphins like we did! Pack your snacks and go early to get a good spot for your beach day. They rent umbrellas and chairs there for 20 soles if that’s your style. It’s best to go toward the end of April or during March when Peruvian students go back to school if you’re looking for less crowded beaches!
Pro-Tip: Paracas National Reserve requires a fee to enter. Since you’re already paying to be there, you can catch a tour or simply drive to the surrounding beaches, some of which are Playa Roja, Playa El Raspon, Playa Atenas, or Playa Yumaque.
More Than a Beach Trip
Finally, you can’t go to Paracas without checking out Isla Ballestas. Simply buy a ticket (around $15) on the pier, jump on a boat, and head for the rocky islands full of 1000s of bird species, sea lions, penguins, and dolphins. It’s a great two-hour trip that shows you the sea life and coastline beauty of Peru. It’s a fun addition to any beach trip.
Paracas is a beautiful destination for any traveler who has some time to spare, from a one-day ‘collectivo’ experience to staying your whole weekend to try different beaches and check out Isla Bellestas. Whichever route you choose, the destination makes the journey worth it!