When you think of Peru, the first thing that might come to mind is Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan civilization, and the spectacular Andes mountains. However, with a coastline of 1,500 miles, Peru is home to incredible beaches. Lima, Peru’s capital, is located on the coast, which makes an easy starting point for a road trip north or south to visit the country’s best beaches.

These seven beaches in Peru are worth a visit, due to their breathtaking scenery. Whether you are an avid surfer, hoping for a relaxing day with your family, or want to go for a relaxing swim, there is a beautiful beach waiting for you in Peru! Just remember that because Peru is in the southern hemisphere, the best time to go to the beach is between December and April - but of course, they are beautiful at any time of year.

Best Beaches in Peru

1. Paracas National Reserve

The southern coast of Peru does not have too many prominent beach areas, but the Paracas National Reserve stands out as the best-known and most-loved of all of them. If you love wildlife and bird watching, this is a fantastic place to go: Paracas is a wildlife reserve that is home to many diverse species of marine birds, and there is a cruise that you can take to the nearby Ballestas Islands to see dolphins, penguins, and sea lions.

2. Mollendo

Further south of the Paracas National Reserve is the beautiful colonial village of Mollendo that sits right along the beach. This is known as the best beach destination in southern Peru for a reason: the wide stretches of sand are perfect for a relaxing beach day, and you’ll get a great taste of local Peruvian life as families and friends spend a summer day at the shores. Weekends are crowded here in the summer as residents of Arequipa, the largest city in southern Peru, come to visit.

3. Pulpos Beach

It is possible to visit Pulpos as a day trip from Lima, since it is located only an hour south of Lima. However, once you get here, you might want to stay longer. This area is known for its surfing, so you can take lessons, or just relax on the shore. Pulpos Beach is one of the most beloved spots in all of Peru for bodyboarding, which doesn’t require any lessons at all - so grab a board and head out to explore the waves!

4. Caballeros Beach

Only 20 minutes south of Pulpos Beach is one of the hottest surfing destinations in Peru: Caballeros Beach. Waves range from small and rolling to large barrels in the higher surf, so if you plan to go surfing, be sure to consult with locals about the tides. Even if you don’t plan to surf, this is a great place to come for lunch with a view - you can park your car at the top of the cliff where there are food stalls with delicious and inexpensive local food and friendly vendors.

5. Playa Las Tortugas

The northern beaches in Peru are known for warmer water and better weather, and Playa Las Tortugas is the most popular of all of them. This beach is a great destination for water sports because the water is often calm, and you can enjoy fresh seafood at numerous restaurants right near the beach. One of the most interesting parts of this beach is that the land near it is a desert, which is quite different from the rockier, more rugged beaches on the southern part of the Peruvian coast.

6. Trujillo

The second most populous city in Peru, Trujillo is a colonial city that has beautiful architecture in addition to great beaches. Spend a day in the sand and surf and then walk through the glamorous streets of the old part of the city. The best beach in the area is Huanchaco, which is also a charming fishing village with traditional reed boats that are great as subjects for photography.

7. Mancora

Mancora is on the northernmost part of the Peruvian coastline in the sunniest region of the country. Its sandy beaches stretch for miles, and it is a prime destination for foreigners in the summertime. Because of this, there are many great restaurant, cafe and hotel options that will make your stay very enjoyable - as well as really fun nightlife. Mancora is also known as Peru’s secret, luxury surf spot that gets great waves and also has fun surf camps!

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This article was written by Cathy Trainor.