It’s been over six months, but I still dream about reading, writing, and relaxing in the hammocks on the beach in Zorritos, one of the towns that dots the coast in Tumbes in northern Peru. For me, these few days spent staying in my own private bungalow and waking up to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach were priceless, restorative, and life-affirming.
When I started researching my trip to northern Peru earlier this year, I knew I wasn’t in the mood for the constant party atmosphere in Máncora, but as a solo traveler I didn’t want to feel completely isolated. I stumbled across an article mentioning an eco-hostel within steps of the beach in Zorritos, and I knew it was the place for me. I was right.
The best part of my private bungalow? It had its own balcony with HAMMOCK INCLUDED! Talk about heaven. I spent hours each morning and evening swinging on the hammock, reading my book on meditation (I had just finished a 10-day meditation retreat, after all), and contemplating how to go with the flow as my job in Chile came to an end.
Not to mention the time spent right next to the ocean, swinging in the beachfront hammocks. There’s a reason people often stay here for weeks at a time; if I hadn’t had to head back to Chile for work, I would have extended my stay too!
Although I still think Punta Sal has the most beautiful coastline and pristine beaches of anywhere I’ve been in Peru, Zorritos was pretty special too. El Niño was acting up, so it was cloudy for much of my stay, but on one glorious morning, I saw the gorgeous blue skies and turquoise waters that the northern beaches are famous for. Ahhhh.
Grillo 3 Puntas, where I stayed, is located a few kilometers from the center of Zorritos, which makes for an extremely pleasant walk along mostly empty coastline. (You can also take a mototaxi for a few soles if you’re in a hurry.)
Although Zorritos is not famous for drawing giant marlins like Cabo Blanco once did, at its heart Zorritos is still a fishing village, with local fisherman heading out like clockwork to bring in the daily catch. Perhaps that’s why Zorritos still maintains a laid-back atmosphere; there are certainly tourists, but nothing like the beaches to the south.
Beaches in the Center of Zorritos
If you’re interested in heading to the beach with other people, Zorritos has a cute boardwalk located near the center of town, just a short walk from the Panamerican Highway. Check out the beautiful mosaic work!
Although it was high season during my visit, the strange climate brought on by El Niño meant the beaches were a lot quieter than normal. In town, I talked to a few shopowners and they said that there was a huge decline in tourism, which is never good for a town that counts on a steady stream of revenue from outsiders.
So I hope this little love letter to Zorritos inspires you to visit, even if the weather isn’t quite what you expected. Zorritos’ laid-back charms will win you over even despite the humidity!
Heading north towards Tumbes, you reach a longer stretch of public beaches located in the administrative section of town. I appreciated the little handwritten sign: “No seas cochino,” or “don’t be a pig,” encouraging visitors to pick up after themselves.
Although this boardwalk was unfortunately left half-finished, you can see how pleasant this wide stretch of beach is – open and accessible to everyone. With my packed schedule visiting the beaches further south as well as the ruins and mangroves to the north, I didn’t manage to find any time to hang out here and chose to stay close to my hostel (or if I’m really honest, my hammock).
Thermal Bath at El Tubo
Besides beaches, the area around Zorritos is known for its hot baths. El Tubo, located in the area of Zorritos named Pampas de los Chivatos (Pampa del Aterrizaje), is a man-made geiser which has turned into a thermal bath. The geiser was created by drilling for oil, and when none was found, the community built a public thermal bath around it (just as in the highlands of northern Chile!).
At night, the flame is lit and you can descend into the warm waters, soaking in the minerals and hanging out with friends, in my case, a large group of Spaniards, plus an Ecuadorian, some Peruvians, and me. 😉 El Tubo is located up a very bumpy road in the middle of the hills around Zorritos, so be sure to get a local mototaxi to guide you and bring a few people.
Another common option for people interested in mud baths is Hervideros, located in the Bocapán section of Zorritos, close to the luxury resort Casa Andina. Once again, you just need to find a mototaxi to take you there.
Sunset Spotting in Zorritos
But if I’m being really honest about what I liked best about Zorritos, it was the sunset (well, the sunsets as experienced from the hammocks on the beach). In these parts, watching the sunset is a required ritual, no matter if you’re from the area or just visiting.
Even on cloudy, dark days, the sun manages to beam through the clouds, turning unbelievable shades of yellow, orange, and red.
With the heavy humidity in the air, the sunset took on a dreamy quality.
This is probably my favorite sunset picture from my stay. Look at those gorgeous peach colors reflecting over the waves. <3
Even on the days when I missed the sunset, I made sure to head down to the beach to appreciate the colors as they faded away into dusk. I’ve long been a fan of lingering after the sunset to see the skies change to purple and pink.
Not bad at all. Seriously, who could complain about a beach vacation where every day ends like this?
Maybe it was just the magic of finding the right place for me at just the right moment of my life, but Zorritos got under my skin and part of me still wants to be there, swinging in the hammock, right on the beach. All the more reason to return someday soon!
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Recommendations for Zorritos, Tumbes, Peru:
- Zorritos is located right on the Panamerican Highway, and all the major buses to Tumbes have local offices in the center of town. I recommend traveling with Civa/Excluciva, as they usually have comfortable, well-kept buses and offer vegetarian options.
- I was a huge fan of Grillo 3 Puntas, where I stayed for almost a week. They offer private bungalows, even for solo travelers, and have an on-site restaurant where the owners cook up Spanish-style meals, always offering a vegetarian option. Although there is inside seating, everyone sits outside and enjoys the fresh air and views down to the beach. The included breakfast is pretty good and there’s also a bar, of course! Each bungalow has a hammock and there are lots of hammocks on the beach. They offer campsites for tents and campers, and there’s also an outdoor kitchen available to guests. If you stay there, just email them directly rather than booking online, as rates are better that way.
- In my research for this post, I came across a new surf hostel located closer to the center of town. Although I’ve never been there, it might be a good option if you’d like to be around more people or restaurants.
- Zorritos has a colectivo taxi stop in town, but there are usually a couple of seats on the colectivos heading north to Tumbes or south to Máncora. I never had much of a problem getting around, and the mototaxis can take you into town for S/.3.
- If you want to visit the thermal baths at El Tubo or Hervideros, check with the owners of your hostel or hostal as they likely have their own dedicated mototaxistas or taxi drivers.
- Zorritos is about 20 minutes from Cabeza de Vaca, 30 minutes from the city of Tumbes, an hour from Puerto 25 and the mangroves, 30 minutes from Punta Sal, an hour from Máncora, and two hours from Cabo Blanco. As long as you leave early enough, you can get just about anywhere.
- Be sure to get up early enough to go to the fish and fruit market in Zorritos, although you can buy fruit and vegetables from local businesses throughout the day. The fruit is amazing.
[Zorritos, Tumbes, Peru: January 29-February 3, 2016]