I tend to keep things positive here on Blueskylimit. There are so many other places on the internet where you can go to get your dose of negative opinions on perfectly nice tourist destinations. Here, I want to encourage you to invest your tourism dollars into the tiny little towns and family owned businesses that inspire me all over South America.
I am sure that Máncora was once a beautiful fishing village with pristine white beaches that only drew the most dedicated surfers and intrepid travelers. In fact, it may have still had some of that vibe back in 2007 when I first heard about it. Well, those days are long gone.
Today, Máncora is a crowded, overpriced, loud, dirty stretch of roads, filled with party hostels and hustlers, drunk travelers, and half-built buildings that were either abandoned for lack of funds or kept in a constant state of construction for tax breaks.
I’m sure the beach is much more appealing on a sunny day, and if you go with a group of friends and you want easy access to pretty good food and plentiful alcohol, this may be the place for you. If you want to stay at some of the fanciest hostels in South America, where everything is provided on-site and you don’t have to leave, you might appreciate Máncora more than I did. Similarly, if you have access to expensive hotels with five star restaurants, your experience of Máncora will probably be much different than mine.
But as your average solo traveler who has lost interest in the party scene, Máncora wasn’t for me. Not with miles and miles of gorgeous coastline to explore throughout Tumbes and Piura, and pristine beaches just a short colectivo ride away in nearby Punta Sal.
Instead of Máncora, why not visit the other amazing beaches that I’ll be describing in the following posts? Actually take some time to travel around Tumbes, visit the mangroves, and check out Cabeza de Vaca, one of the most important archeological sites in this region. Visit one of the cleaner, less crowded beaches near Máncora that are accessible on public buses and actually enjoy relaxing on the coast.
Beach in Máncora, Piura, Peru
To be completely fair, I went when El Niño was blanketing the coast in clouds, and I’m sure some sunshine would have brightened up the beaches and made them more appealing. But did you see that decaying boardwalk whose shoddy construction has made it sink into the sand, creating a hazard in the middle of the most popular, most accessible public beach?
No thanks, Máncora. Check out some of the other nearby beaches that I link to below.
Recommendations for Máncora, Piura, Peru:
- I spent only a few hours in Máncora, just enough time to have lunch at the delicious vegetarian restaurant, Angela’s Place, and walk around the beach for a while.
- Because of its popularity as a destination, Máncora has become a transit hub for the region, and the colectivo vans from Tumbes end their route in Máncora, where you’ll need to make a connection onward to El Alto, to visit Cabo Blanco, or to the city of Piura.
- From the Panamerican highway in Máncora, you can catch direct colectivos to Punta Sal, a very popular day trip from Máncora (and one that is well worth the time). They will ride up and down the street looking for passengers, shouting out “Punta Sal.”
- If you want to get away from the beaches of Máncora, Las Pocitas, Los Órganos, Vichayito, and Ñuro all came highly recommended. Los Órganos is easy to get to because the EPPO buses from Máncora have a station there. From the bus terminal, you can catch a colectivo or maybe even a mototaxi to the beaches.
- Beyond Máncora, you can take an EPPO bus to El Alto, where you can catch a regularly running colectivo van to Cabo Blanco, one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. I’ll be writing more in an upcoming post.
- If you really want to avoid Máncora but don’t want to head all the way north to Tumbes (though you totally should give Tumbes some time!), Lobitos is one of the most popular surfing towns in Piura, and Colán is also highly recommended by friends. You can access Lobitos from Talara and Colán from the city of Piura. Note that I haven’t been yet; they’re pending for a future trip!
[Máncora, Piura, Peru: January 28, 2016]