On the road... Fishing in Huanchaco

Friday, February 12, 2016

20 minutes from the colonial centre of Trujillo lies the fishing village of Huanchaco, a traditional Peruvian fishing town famed for its unique methods of fishing. A four hour bus through yet more wilderness and desert from Chiclayo brought us to the wide bay of Huanchaco, Peru. 


Huanchaco, Peru at a glance

 ✓ Language: Spanish

✓ Currency: Peruvian Sol

  Restaurant food: $3-$5 - Watch out for MenuLand (The best in Huanchaco)

 Drinking: Cerveza $1

 ✓ Getting to Trujillo: $1-$2 The bus to Trujillo leaves from the main road outside Casa Fresh but taxis are also good value

 ✓ Where to stay: Casa Fresh Backpacker Hostel

✓ Where to eat: Menu Land - The perfect budget spot

All prices in US Dollar


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Welcome to Huanchaco

This is Huanchaco, Peru

Huanchaco reminds me of my childhood and weekend trips to seaside towns in England. The sand is dull the water is freezing and the beach is littered with rocks. The fishermen sell boat rides on their bizarre reed boats to make some extra Soles once the morning catch is over. Think of a canoe crossed between a surfboard made from reeds. They are completely unique to this area and come with their own ancient myths and special traditions. Festivals and holidays are dedicated to the fishing in Huanchaco, if you're there during the right time you may even catch a night display from the fishermen.

Hanging the boats out to dry - You'll see this all over Huanchaco, Peru

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Fancy a ride?

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The streets of Huanchaco, Peru are filled with stalls selling every bucket and spade combination in every colour and size imaginable. The uncharacteristic buildings sell souvenirs and enough ice-cream to eat until you pop. I can only speak for the days we spent here but I'm sure even on the sunniest days it feels overcast in Huanchaco. 

There is no particular pull factor that draws people here, nothing spectacular, nothing magnificent. There is actually nothing remarkable about Huanchaco, just like there is nothing remarkable about Blackpool yet people will never stop visiting. Maybe it's tradition, maybe it's something else. 

Huanchaco Pier

The pier in Huanchaco is the heart and soul of the town and one of the top things to do in Huancahco. Locals and tourists alike throw in lines and hope to get the biggest and tastiest catch. I lost Jamie for 3 whole days but knew if I wanted I could find him (covered in fish) in the same spot at the end of the pier.

Local men sell wooden boards with hooks, line, weights and bait so even the best dresses city slickers can try their luck. Huanchaco funnily enough has tapped into a very successful and lucrative form of tourism here there isn't one person who doesn't get involved. It just goes to show even the most unlikely of places can find its niche. 

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The heart and soul of the party - Huanchaco Pier is the place to be all day everyday
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Meet some of the locals - Some of the same faces everyday
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Jamie giving the locals a helping hand

Weekends on the coast - Peru

From Mexico downwards we've witnesses weekends on the coast, families from the cities bring Granny and Grandad to the beach, usually with a large cool box and a crying 5 year old. This is the story in Huanchaco, photographers overcharging for family holiday snaps, restaurants serving cut price fish and the happiest Peruvian faces I've actually ever seen. People are content with Huanchaco and why shouldn't they be. 

It's the oldest and most simple form of tourism I can think of, bucket and spade days on the coast. Throughout history as a species we've spent countless hours on unremarkable sands just enjoying being by the ocean. It's probably ingrained in us as a race. 

I was always going to enjoy Huanchaco because of its proximity to the ocean but I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. I'm imagining it's probably something to do with my own nostalgia of cold, wet weekends spent on beaches in the North of England and I can't count how many times Jamie said the word Cornwall during our time in Huanchaco. We had no real reason to visit this little fishing spot but I'm glad we did. I think the happy Peruvian holidaymakers alone are enough to make even the most cynical happy in a place like Huanchaco. 

And of course, would it really be the pacific coast without a sunset

Things to do in Huanchaco, Peru

Visit Trujillo

The busy town of Trujillo is filled with colourful colonial architecture. The busy Plaza de Armas is home to the photogenic Freedom Momentum and worth a visit no your way to the bust street of Paseo Pizarro to grab a famous Peruvian Menu del Dia. Expect to pay local prices in Trujillo as it is usually sheltered from the level of tourism in Huanchaco. Take the chicken bus from Huanchaco and set aside a morning only to explore the streets of Trujillo as this small destination can be explored in a few hours. We actually visited so Jamie could get a haircut but ended up enjoying a few days in a classical colonial Latin city. The bus will cost between $1-$2. 

Take a trip to Chan Chan ruins

We regretably passed on Chan Chan as we had recently just visited Túcume from Chiclayo on our way towards Huanacho. Similar in size and appearance both of the pre-colombian sites are hot and desert-like. If you plan a visit prepare in advance and take enough water to save you from the sun. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chan Chan is a more established architectural site than Túcume, as Túcume is still very much undergoing excavation work. If you are looking for a day trip from Huanacho add Chan Chan to your list. The public bus that goes to Trujillo can drop you off outside the entrance of the site. For more things to do in Huanacho visit along dusty roads.


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12 comments

  1. Off to fishing over a weekend is a privilege we metropolitan dwellers can only think of. This little town seems quiet lucrative for a weekend break!

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  2. Lovely hidden gem! I like the most that you can have a meaningful interaction with the locals. I believe thats what makes the place really special, unlike at some mass tourism spots :)

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    1. The locals really make Huanchaco. I definitely agree with you :)

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  3. Wow what a wonderful insight into such a unique bay! I've never seen anything like those fishing boats, so that had me a bit wide eyed :) I've never been to Peru, or its surrounding countries, so seeing all this is like going on a holiday myself there! I like your line that you really didn't have any reason to go.

    I often find the places I go to on holidays that aren't in the average tourist itinerary are the most memorable. There's something about being away from the crowds and gimmicks, and being immersed with locals and "authentic" experiences. It's easy just to do more action packed things when you're on holidays, but I think it's equally important to slow down and just chill. A beautiful setting never hurts either :D

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    1. Thanks for such a great comment. I completely agree with you. It's so nice to feel part of the Peruvian community and not a tourist. Huanacho is so small and friendly and truly worth a visit.

      It's a great place to spend a few days, have a few conversations and take some time to reflect and think. I'm definitely glad we just stumbled upon this small fishing town.

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  4. Peru is at the very top of my list! What a quaint, charming little village. I would love to see it in person. Those homemade canoes are adorable! I hope they are reliable!! :)

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    1. It's definitely a place worth visiting. Peru is an amazing country so much culture!

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  5. We're going to travel the Americas next year, so I'll definitely look into Huanchaco. I'd never heard of it before! Do you think people who don't like fishing would still like it?

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    1. I've never been fishing before in my life. It's a hobby of my boyfriends but everyone in Huanchaco seems to get involved. I think you'll struggle to visit the pier and not feel the urge to get involved :)

      Enjoy your trip!

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  6. The canoes really stood out to me! They remind me of the basket woven boats that they have in Vietnam. Pretty awesome how well they keep out water. Great photos

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    1. Yeah similar concept! It's what Huanchaco. is famed for, thanks for your comment.

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  7. I can relate. I spent most of my childhood staring out at the Atlantic that was too cold to actually swim in! On the coast of Massachusetts, New Hampshire & Maine, the water is just too cold for my liking, but it has never deterred me from spending time on it's banks!

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