Mancora / Peru
After spending two weeks in the dusty little town of Lobitos two hours south (see our Lobitos guide), Mancora felt like a fast-paced little city, a buzzing hub of collectivos, backpackers and vacationing Peruvians. All the action is directly on the beach and the road running parallel, which is lined with shops hawking woven tops, sandals, pricey sunscreen (bring this from elsewhere), and of coarse Miami-style neon fringe crop tops.
You step onto the beach and Beach Boys will play in your head…”let’s go surfing now, everybody’s learning how.” The one main surf break was lined with surfers of all levels. Get ready to get dropped in on (say “voy voy VOY” when an eager boy drops in). There are two shops right on the beach at the break – we rented boards for $3 each for about 2 hours. Ask about the rocks, but otherwise it was a fun approachable 3-4 ft wave, best early morning before the wind starts. No vacation spot is complete without some dudes on jet skis and a banana boat.
There are a bunch of hostels right in town, but we were happy that we stayed a five minute walk up the hill at Kon Tiki. We got a private thatch roof hut with a hammock overlooking the whole town and surf break. After two recent bouts of food poisoning in hot weather, we were fully okay with eating at the “safe” gringo restaurants. Green Eggs and Ham (run by a South Carolinian, armed with an old school waffle maker) is the place to go! We still reference those dense waffles and creamy fruit smoothies….mmm. Also good for coffee, free refills! For a romantic Valentine’s Day we treated ourselves to La Sirena del Juan (not to be confused with the La Sirena café just a few storefronts down). The beachy décor is reminiscent of the Surf Lodge or Mermaid Inn, wonderful service, and delicious food (at $35 total it was a super affordable Vday meal).
We spent three nights in Mancora and would have been happy with a few more days there to surf and find other breaks. If you’re not a surfer, two days is probably enough. There’s nothing SO spectacular about Mancora that it’s worth going out of your way to, but it is a nice spot to “vacation” if you are traveling up the coast. We also heard Los Organos, an hour south, is good for surfing too.
At a glance…
- Do surf or swim, then spend the rest of the day in a hammock with your Kindle.
- Sleep at KonTiki lodge.
- Shop at Walter’s Surf Shop – they have boards, wax, leashes, rash guards, board bags, even some GoPro accessories. If you’re looking to buy a board, stop at all the surf rental shops along the beach (we found 4) and see what they have to offer before committing (the options aren’t stellar, but we did find some used for $100-200).
- Eat breakfast and lunch at Green Eggs and Ham and dinner at La Sirena d’Juan.
- Tips – it’s easy to catch collectivos to other surf spots, like Los Organos and Lobitos. It cost about $3 each from Lobitos to Mancora, they leave regularly once they fill the car, just ask a local where they depart from. There is a bakery and real market at the end of town near the bus station.