Máncora, not Monaco, is the destination for the jet-setting crowd of Peru. This beachside resort town is on the Pacific Ocean, near the country’s northernmost border that it shares with Ecuador.
Think sun, surf, and fiesta: Máncora is a place for youth. It's high energy, with an up-tempo verve stirred by the almost constant rhythm of the music exuding from the bars and restaurants along the seafront. Latin and techno beats begin early afternoon with a steady crescendo until about 4 a.m. This is only problematic if you want to sleep, as many of the hotels use screens instead of windows. Warning! If you are the tour bus–type of traveler fresh from a visit to Machu Picchu, you might have a problem fitting in here. As they saying goes, “The music is not too loud, you are too old!”
Along with local Peruvian Spanish, international accents and languages float in the air. Máncora is a magnet for young people from around the world. While enjoying a cup of Americana in one of the many cafes, it's not uncommon to strike up a conversation with someone from across the globe while being served by an ex-pat from the other side of the world.
What to eat, drink and do
Restaurants, upscale shopping and yoga retreats abound. Excellent seafood, vegan and vegetarian options, beef, and Peruvian specialties are all available. The bars are pretty simple. Pisco sours are to Peru what the margarita is to Mexico, and they tend to be the drink of choice. Local micro beers are available along with the favorite national cervezas, Cristal and Cusquena.
Activities ranging from zip lining to a romantic horseback ride along the beach are available and reasonably priced.
Yet all takes a back seat to ocean sports. Although Máncora beach is sheltered and possesses an excellent left break, the strong airstream along the Pacific here makes the region a world renowned kite surfing mecca. Fishing is also popular. The largest black marlin ever landed was caught just a few miles off shore. For movie buffs, Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, starring Spencer Tracey, was filmed here. More recently an internationally acclaimed hit titled simply Mancora was shot here.
Pan-American Highway, Máncora
The Pan-Pacific Highway cuts directly through the middle of the town and adds to the commotion and excitement. To say a steady stream of traffic travels along this famous roadway would be an understatement: semis, VW vans, surf rack–topped SUVs, tourist buses and passenger cars move single file, while a myriad of motorcycles and three-wheel taxis buzz about the traffic like bees around a hive.
Máncora is South America, not the south of France. It’s loud, crowded and a little bit dirty. Yet its vibe and vigor mixed with a sprinkle of sophistication makes it more than just a party town. An epic surf break along with even better people make it a must visit for those who still want to dance to the music.