Don’t let the shabby, hectic, touristy, maybe even a little bit shady center of this popular beach town turn you off. There are gems here if you know where to look, and we do. Use our beach town travel guide to find the best things to do, places to eat, and places to sleep in Mancora, Peru.
Mancora, Peru Beach Town Travel Guide
Mancora is probably Peru’s most well-known beach-town-slash-party-town. It’s a jumble of hostels and shops selling tourist junk on dusty streets that fan off from a busy stretch of beach all in a general state of permanent disarray (including plenty of Peru’s litter scourge).
However, with a claim of 360 days of sunshine per year, Mancora attracts Lima residents looking to escape that city’s seasonal fog, and beach-bound international tourists. And if you get out of the center a bit you’ll find some compelling hotels, lovely beaches, and a few chefs who could be holding their own in Lima but are serving it up in Mancora instead.
What to do in Mancora, Peru
While the town of Mancora isn’t going to win any beauty contests, the beaches around it might. Wide sloping stretches of sand, gentle waves, and plenty of options to please those who want a lounge chair, friends, and handy access to cold beers and surfing lessons right down to travelers who want a seafront stretch all to themselves.
The beach in front of Mancora town is long and sweeping and divided loosely into three parts. To the north of town is peaceful Playa de Amor which is generally free of beach hawkers and crowds. The middle section of the bay is most central to town so it’s generally the busiest with more people and more hawkers but also the handiest proximity to restaurants, bars, and surf lessons.
To the south of town, you’ll find secluded stretches of sand that are suited to reading a book and relaxing away from crowds but still within walking distance of town.
Further afield you’ll find lovely Las Pocitas (The Pools). This stretch of beach is about 3 miles (5 km) south of town and most commonly reached in one of the tuk-tuks that serve as taxis around Mancora. If you plan on visiting this beach, bring what you need for the day since services are limited. And consider grabbing lunch at the seafood and vegetarian restaurant at the Kichic hotel that’s located on Las Pocitas beach.
Vichayito Beach, 7.5 miles (12 km) south of Mancora town, is also lovely and peaceful and visitors now benefit from a paved road between Mancora and Vichayito that was just going in when we were there.
Surf lessons are a popular pastime in Mancora with lots of businesses offering to teach you the basics or help you hone your existing skills.
And humpback whales migrate past the northern Peruvian coastline from July through October and they can be seen during whale-watching boat trips from Mancora during those months.
Where to eat in Mancora, Peru
By far the best place we ate at in Mancora was La Sirena d’Juan helmed by chef Juan Seminario.
Born in Mancora, Juan studied at the Cordon Bleu school in Lima and he could easily be making a name for himself by cooking in the country’s foodie capital. Insetad, he came home and opened La Sirena d’ Juan in Mancora in the mid ’90s.
La Serena d’Juan is now an institution thanks to consistently creative food using (and encouraging the production of) local ingredients. Juan is also a surfer and he credits that affinity with the sea as a way of connecting with local fishermen who, he told us, supply him with things like 440 pound (200 kilo) locally caught yellowfin which he turns into melt-in-your-mouth tuna tartare (and many other tuna dishes). Pasta, meat, and vegetarian dishes round out the lovingly crafted menu here. And don’t miss the pisco cocktails either. They remain some of the most elegant concoctions we had in Peru.
Chef Juan Seminario tipped us off about a restaurant called Restaurante Cesar, so we headed there ASAP. The place, which opened in 1985, is clean and simple with Madonna, the Bee Gees, and Stevie Wonder pumping out of large speakers. Sarongs were used as tablecloths. The beer mugs were chilled. And the ceviche was every bit as fresh and wonderful as Juan said it would be. We also ordered fried calamari and it was tender and delicious.
The restaurant at the Kichic hotel on Las Pocitas beach is the kind of place you might expect to find in Malibu or Tulum. The menu is focused on seafood and vegetarian dishes, the setting is hippie chic, and the view is worth a million bucks.
Green Eggs & Ham is a beachfront institution in central Mancora that’s famous for serving breakfast all day including classic breakfast dishes that will soothe any homesickness you may be feeling for your favorite US brunch spot. Lunch is also served and when we were at this beachfront favorite, the dog-eared menus were made to look like the Green Eggs & Ham book by Dr. Seuss.
Before Gaston Acurio was given the mantle as Peru’s biggest celebrity chef, there was Teresa Ocampo who made a name for herself as a champion of Peruvian cuisine through her cooking, her TV shows, and her writing. Her son, Javier Ruzo, runs the open-air beachfront Donde Teresa restaurant which may look simple but dishes like tender octopus in a fragrant red sauce, fresh tuna carpaccio with capers, glistening seared tuna on orzo, and slow-cooked pork over creamy white beans shine.
Where to sleep in Mancora, Peru
DCO Suites, Lounge, and Spa, on Las Pocitas beach, is an intimate beachfront haven in turquoise and white.
The hotel (the name is pronounced day-say-oh as in deseo which is the Spanish word for desire) offers art-filled spaces designed with nooks and crannies made for reading or napping. There are plunge pools and lounge chairs on the beach below and all rooms have sea views (except room #8).
Suites at DCO have private furnished patios facing the ocean. With a full restaurant and bar, you may never leave the hotel.
Kichic hotel on Las Pocitas beach offers nine rooms (most with sea views) in the converted home of the owner.
Reclaimed wood was used in the construction. Decor includes driftwood sculptures, earth tones, and Peruvian textiles that give Kichic an easy, beachy, romantic vibe. An open-air yoga studio, beachfront lap pool, and good quality seafood and vegetarian dishes at the hotel restaurant round out the amenities.
If you have to spend time in Mancora town, we can recommend Hotel Akumal as a fairly clean and fairly budget-friendly option with private rooms with fans, Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms around a small pool plus an ample parking area across the street. It’s not on the beach, but few budget accommodations in Mancora are.
Here’s more about travel in Peru
Here’s more about Beaches in the Americas