Up on the northern coast of Peru lies the little backpacker beach town of Máncora. The main highway boasts a fun market and some cool restaurants. There’s a consistent small surf break around the corner from the main beach with a surf shop nearby if you want to catch some waves! After you catch the unreal sunset, the town changes. BBQs line the main street offering freshly grilled meals. The beachfront bars extend out onto the sand and you can chill and listen to the waves under the stars while having a drink by candlelight. It’s a small town but a fun one, and a great place to take a break if you’re making your way up to Ecuador.
How to Get There
Huanchaco/Trujillo or Lima to Máncora
After doing the classic Peru loop in the south, we decided to bus up the coast to Ecuador instead of fly. It definitely saved some money, and we like going a little off the beaten path! You can take the bus all the way from Lima to Máncora, which takes 18 hours. That sounds pretty brutal, but Peru buses are surprisingly comfortable. You can read our reviews on Peru Bus Companies here.
We broke up our bus ride in Huanchaco before heading to Máncora. Huanchaco is the seaside town just outside of Trujillo where you arrive by bus. The bus companies all have their own buildings in Trujillo, but they’re all gathered in the same general area. The trip from Huanchaco to Máncora took 10.5 hours overnight and cost 70 soles. We booked online with Oltursa bus company. They are reliable and clean! The bus drops you within walking distance of the main hub in Máncora.
Máncora to Guayaquil, Ecuador
After being told by every blog and their moms to take Cruz del Sur when bussing around Peru, we decided to use it to cross the border. It is generally more expensive than the other companies we used (Oltursa, Movil, Peru Bus) and we were very happy with those companies, so we delayed on spending the extra money.
As luck would have it, our Cruz del Sur bus was 2.5 hours late. We had to travel during the day since we were crossing the border, and ended up leaving at 12:30 pm and arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador at 9:30 pm. The trip from Máncora to the border town of Tumbes took 3.5 hours, and then due to every border agent seemingly taking a break at the same time, it took us 1.5 hours to cross. The bus waits within view the whole time. We were fed rice, chicken and potatoes (also choice of beef or fish), given blankets and headphones. The bus attendants weirdly took everyones blankets away 45 minutes before arriving in Guayaquil. The bus station in Guayaquil is huge, when you arrive walk right through the station and you’ll see signs and taxis waiting over to the left. The bus cost 134 soles to Guayaquil on Cruz del Sur. However, you can find rides from comparable bus companies from 60-80 soles elsewhere.
Where to Stay
- Estrella Fugaz – We adventured over a 5 minute walk away from the main hub of Máncora to find Estrella Fugaz. When you’re walking to the beach, hang a right down the main path and you’ll find it a couple hundred metres away. The flowery picture to the right is the main entrance! We were there during low season, but were pretty annoyed by the service. We were either the only people there, or one of two occupied rooms. The wifi worked okay, and the pool was a little dirty but nice to chill in, but we could rarely find anyone when we needed anything. The hot water we were promised was hit and miss, and on the last night we didn’t have any water at all. We also had a few cockroaches and a very persistent angry cat clawing at our door when we brought some snacks home. This place might be better to stay at during high season. We paid 60 soles for our room. You can look for hostels in Máncora here.
- Loki del Mar – We didn’t stay here, but did check out a room and visited with a guest pass to enjoy their bar. The room cost twice as much as Estrella Fugaz, and was nice but basic, and at 120 soles, very overpriced. It is the party hostel in the area, so if that’s your thing this is where you want to end up! You can book a dorm bed or room here.
What to Do
- Catch a sunset – If you head left down the beach, over past the surf break, you can watch an amazing sunset every night! Bring a beer, grab a seat in the sand and relax.
- Surf – There’s a constant surf break just to the left of the main hub, and a surf shop renting boards if you want to catch a few waves.
- Check out the market – If you head back to the main road and turn left towards the bus stations, you’ll pass buy a market selling lots of different souvenirs, jewellery, clothing and trinkets!
Where to Eat
- Green Eggs and Ham – This was our go to breakfast spot, and was very tasty! It doubled as a Surf and Turf restaurant in the evening. The portions are big and cheap for what you get! It’s located in the colourful building behind the surf shop.
- Angela’s – Amazing food, and huge portions, but the food takes a very loooooong time. We waited at least an hour. The vibe is cool, and there are travel books to leaf through while you wait for your delicious meal. Dev loved it because there were healthy options on the menu as well as many vegan and vegetarian options.
- BBQs – As the sun sets, restaurants will fire up their BBQs along the main street between the beach and the highway. We tried it out one night, but the 10 soles deals they offer don’t give you very big portions.
- Main Street Restaurants – The same restaurants setting up BBQs will offer deals with one starter and one main for 10-15 soles. The starter is usually a small order of Peruvian favourites ceviche or tequeños, and overall it’s a pretty good deal.
- Sirena Cafe – We ended up here after we were told our bus to Ecuador would be 2.5 hours late. It was the only place open in the morning on a weekend. The wifi was super fast, but to get it we had to buy some expensive drinks. It was good coffee though!
- Loki del Mar – The local party hostel allows you to sign in as a guest if you have ID and access the bar even if you don’t stay there. There are drink deals all night and the food is pretty good too! There was a big crowd here, but unfortunately they didn’t leave and explore the bars along the beach after having a few drinks. They preferred to stay within their hostel walls instead. We felt bad for all the other beach bars without ANY clientele, so we opted to check them out as well! Support local businesses when you can right?