A detailed guide for Paracas – More than kitesurfing.
Published and written by Mariska Wildenberg
Published and written by Mariska Wildenberg
Last time, my article was all about the most important activity in Paracas, Peru (and in my life) – Kitesurfing. You know how to get to the kite beach, the important Windguru facts (how not to miss out on a session or wait for 5 hours on the beach) and you got a short introduction about the kite spot(s) I have seen until so far. If not > find it here! Then, of course, it`s also important to live, next to kiting you should get somehow to Paracas and stay somewhere. My second priority….Although Paracas isn’t a big town, there are plenty of options and possibilities for everybody and every budget. Just like another important priority for most people fooooood, available for every budget if you are a good explorer. BUT before heading over to food and accommodation, you need to know how to get to Paracas, isn’t it ?!
Comparing with some other countries I have been to, Peru is a super easy country to travel in, even with board bags and lots of luggage (okay with 95kg you will get some strange faces… where not?!). The first step is coming from Lima (the closest airport where all international flights arrive). There are two easy options, first is a private car ride to Paracas, second is the bus to Paracas. Both perfect and easy to do (also with 95kg of kite gear). The employers are nice and don’t recommend straight the bigger taxi at the airport but will help you fit it in the smaller and cheaper ones. (+ 1 for the employees of Green car on the airport, I paid a reasonable 40 soles). And for the ones who would like to know, Uber is also working here. (just say no on the first price and they will start thinking), but will be more expensive and you never know in what car they are coming.
The first option: Take the bus from Lima (bus station), it’s a three/four-hour bus ride depending on traffic. From the airport you can jump into a taxi to the bus station, that will take you something like half an hour. The easiest is to book the bus going to Paracas in advance. At the bus station (no matter how early you are) you can check in your luggage already and tour a bit around before your bus leaves (just make sure you lock your luggage when leaving it behind). There is WIFI on the bus station and a small restaurant to sit. (I also had working WIFI in the bus). Luggage is very cheap, I took 95 kg extra for 12 euros. It will all go on the scale and you have to pay for it if it’s not in your free luggage (20 kg). That depends on the bus company and the bus you will take (note that sometimes there will be in the rules that sports equipment is not accepted, but they will – or they will figure something out for you – next bus ore bys before). More expensive companies are more luxury buses and more luxury seats, you even get a sandwich and a drink on the road :). I took the Cruz del Sur (or Peru Bus, also recommended by a local sitting next to me in the plane). Just check where the buses are leaving this is the different per company. More luxury (10-25 euros a ticket) and more basic (8 euros a ticket). The bus will drop you at the bus station Paracas, there will be friendly staff to help you out. You can walk your way to town – a few 100 meters or take a ride with a taxi (7 soles). Even with your kite gear (with wheels) its walkable, a little work-out. Just to let you know: there are some sand roads to cross.
The second option: From lima, a more expensive, fewer adventures option, but maybe a more convenient option is a private car ride. Contact your hotel or guesthouse about it. It will be around 160 dollars / 500 soles. This is easier to arrange beforehand than on the airport itself, that will be more expensive. You will drive straight to Paracas in 3- 4 hours.
On the way back you take a taxi-transfer or you can book a bus. Usually, they are still available last minute. If you want to be secure, book not the last bus as sometimes they might not ride. And if you want to make sure your luggage will fit: be earlier at the bus station, leave it there and go back to town for a drink or dinner. You have to pay but it’s not that much 1 sole per KG more …but a board bag on the scale in Peru is not what it look like….. I am not sure but mine is not 7 kg. for 30 soles I took 90kg. (with Cruz del Sur). The taxi will be ready to take you to the airport from the bus station. Think it’s the first time I didn`t negotiate over the price, it was a really (!) fair price of 30 soles. Even though the driver was a bit scared of seeing me with all my luggage. Not because, he was scared it would not fit in the car, but if he could lift it out of the car… without my help. After I handed the bags, he offered me the driver seat. If you want to communicate the way to the airport, it’s good to speak some Spanish, if you like a quiet ride, don’t speak Spanish.
Where to stay?
That question might be the most important after all. Don’t worry there are plenty of options! More basic and budget – San Martin, that’s the area around Paracas Town, where usually (more) the locals live. Which are just a few meters walk from the town, read one sand road down?
For long term this might be the best option, to walk around and just ask if there is a room available by locals (bring google translate – if you don’t speak Spanish). There will be a lot! You just have to find it, but while asking you will get there easily. All the locals are ready to help you out. For the best price you might have to do: the say no and walk away trick. Come back later and ask again. Mostly its guesthouses or a room in the property of a local (basic but fine) for around 100-150 dollars a month. Off course for some more you will get more! Usually, the second price they give will be a fair one, 1 sole means more for them than for you after all. Just make sure you check the room before taking it. Depending on priority’s: Hot water? WIFI? Shared bathroom? Kitchen? Sheets? Etc.
For short term (or long term but more expensive), you can also stay in Paracas town, which you can find on booking .com, air b&b etc. These are the more popular hotels and is the more touristic area. Sometimes it’s better not to book straight through Booking.com, airb&b, etc. See my recommendations later in this article. If you check booking.com you will not always see the cheapest prices, the real availability and the best options. Better is to go there and ask the price. A lot of places to stay are not even on the booking.com websites. The town area will be a bit noisier because of the road and restaurants, bars.
The other option is to stay close to the kite spot but far from everything and everybody else. More expensive but also more luxury. Like the Hilton hotel or the doubletree hotel.
More than enough choice! And if you are a kiter, you don’t have to stay close to the kite spot in the more expensive options. Its cheaper in Paracas – Sant Martin. The collections are cheap (1 sole), you can walk (35 minutes) or take a taxi (7 soles). There is kite storage available at the beach in one of the kite schools. See my other article about kitesurfing & Paracas.
*. If you stay longer than for a few days, expect some faces with big question marks. What are you doing for three months in Peru? …..eeuh kitesurfing….. be aware you open a new world for them, some friendly locals don’t even know that part of Paracas (on windy days).
Hostal Barlovento: A clean, overall quiet (even with fireworks around), nice place, managed by a local family. Private room and private bathroom shared a common room with fridge and kitchen (on its way, by writing this). One of the fewer accommodations with thick concrete walls. The owners are nice and are introduced by kitesurfing .. not my fault or….. They are used to the sand in the rooms and showers. Hostal Barlovento is situated just above the town, so it’s nice and quiet and a nice playground, some local shops and restaurants around the corner (cheap). Wifi is really good. The hostel is just starting and still improving a lot. Link.
Kokopeli Hostal: The place to be? Or not? Opinions are different about this place and that depends on all on yourself, what you want and what you like. 75% of the visitors will stay here or start there stay here…a more popular place, a noisier place (party’s), but with great company from other travellers. A swimming pool, bar and restaurant inside and different options of rooms. They also offer a deal, work in the Kokopelli bar and stay for free. Kokopelli is situated on the edge of Paracas Town – straight on the local “beach”. (don’t get over excited, because the kite beach will be nicer to the definition beach. Link
Willy`s House: Managed by another super friendly family, serving breakfast every morning. Willys House has a lot of different options sin rooms and is a really clean place, with a nice shared kitchen. You have private rooms but also the usual hostel options. Its situated just on the main street. But to enter remember to take the back door instead of the front door on the main street (it seems closed that way, but its not). Here as well, the Wi-Fi is really good. Link.
More budget or long term budget
Atenas Backpacker Hospedaje: A big hostel with a lot of room options, and a lot of private rooms. A nice rooftop and good Wi-Fi. A shared kitchen and some hammocks. Located on the main street of Paracas and as they say a few 100 meters from the local “beach”, as far as you can call it the beach. They also offer tours at Paracas Backpackers. Link
Local house: the best option for a long term stay or a budget stays. You can find them everywhere. Not directly but by asking around they will pop up everywhere. Book something for the first days and then walk around. Also, ask the Hostels, usually they can give you another price as you will find on the internet.
Or off course, Camp: You can park your car, tent or anything where you want to sleep in on the parking lot of the beach for no charge. But there is nothing besides sand and the sea. In Paracas town is a bathroom and there you can take a “shower” for three soles, otherwise find the tas used for watering the public grass.
Close to the kite spot. But more expensive:
DoubleTree by Hilton Resort Paracas, &
Bamboo Paracas Resort.
Local food & sandwiches, the town Paracas – Sant Martin.
Buying fruits, bread, cookies and sandwiches is really cheap and even cheaper if you choose the right place. Dinner is also cheap if you go out, but there are big differences. Low quality – high price – high quality – high prices –big portions or the other way around. It’s fun to find it out yourself and make your own opinion, I will just share some of my experiences. Since I am not a food guru or fancy -healthy Instagram – fit girl… and just buy the vegetables in the grocery store and eat them, like they are, you won’t find any of these pictures or posts.
In the town, Paracas are little shops, which will have fruits, vegetables and other daily things for a fair price. In the streets more up in San Martin its mostly cheaper, but these more hidden. Or in houses or behind windows, or just open when its time to earn. But its worth it to discover these and support the locals. Some days you will hear an annoying voice of a man going around town, or he will wake you up, but note: this can be the fruit or vegetables man, selling fruits from a motorbike.
Furthermore, there are small stands along the water on the seafront, some every day, some just when its crowded like the last stand, just in the weekends (but is selling some nice lunch for takeaway). Some others are selling juice, ice-cream or sandwiches. These will also drive around in the evenings with all different kind of food. These are good and cheap. Sometimes even better as in the restaurants.
In the streets you will also find windows with sandwiches, cookies, these vary from a price of 1 sole to 4 soles. Usually, the simple ones are 1 and the once with chicken 4. On the main road, there is a woman every morning with egg (1 soles), avocado (2 soles),), fish, chicken sandwiches and also coffee/tea or soup, a little nice improvised local outside restaurant. In the street behind is also a small window, selling sandwiches with egg and some vegetables inside for 2 soles. Sometimes with spinach … the proof that we at home are not really strange if we eat an egg with spinach J
There are wayyyyy more. Above in San Martin are also people selling bread, some stores and some in person on the corner of the street, 5 small breads are 0.50 soles, bigger ones 5 for 1 sole isn’t that bad. Buy your own vegetables in the supermarket and done – no kitchen needed.
Search and you will find. It’s the same, same but different with restaurants for dinner, lunch or breakfast. Look a bit more up into San Martin there you will find local restaurants, well sometimes it’s just local houses or the street, but hey why not? Just walk in, look around and ask them for something nice. Dinner will be around 8 soles in the streets. Be aware that you can get a whole fish for dinner if not expected. You can also go for burgers for 3.5 soles. Down on the seafront are lots of restaurants varying in prices / ask them for the daily menu which is the most value for money (if you do care). Shops up in the streets are usually also the half of the price from the ones down on the seafront.
Recommendations – “places”
Miski has a lot of different options in food. Big pizza`s and always something to drink. A great place to go for dinner if you want nice scenery, music and other people (a mix of tourists and locals).
Arena café, a nice place for breakfast (take the combo deal), lunch, dinner, dessert or just a juice or coffee. – and best WIFI in town, for real! (if you go in the night its equal to the Dutch Wi-Fi!!). A place where usually the tourist come.
Restaurant Paracas, upstairs of the ATM. A good restaurant, also selling local food. And a view from above.
Down on the waterfront you have Local café Peru…a super nice small place with friendly owners to go for breakfast. The owners are local and will help you with everything. Next to this place is also a pizza place which you should try! These two are down in Paracas but al the way on the end past the souvenir shops. The first time I talked about this, people told me there was nothing…. But it turns out there is a lot!
Also, the way to the seafront are lots of places, if you want to look in the menu without getting asked inside, go in the night and check the menu when they are closed, come back next day to eat
In the night there will be people sitting on the streets, selling burgers, hotdogs and all kinds of food. This is cheaper than inside the restaurants and sometimes even better. So worth to try it, if you don’t mind joining the local people on a table or eat at the beach
*order food and bring it to the beach to eat. Build a shelter from the boats and enjoy!
Above in San Martin, you get the same but maybe even better. There are a lot of options and cheaper. During the day you won’t find them but during the night and Peruvian dinner time, you will. (some open only after 19:00). Just walk around the streets and find the lights or open doors:
Roys: a Chicken place with lost of different choices.
Burgers place, well or the other place. Some don’t have a name, but the town itself is not that big, go out and explorer! Another tip is to always ask for the menú del día (cheap, fresh). And if there is no TV…. Are you sure it’s a restaurant? .. if you don’t speak Spanish look at the banners or pictures and choose something, they will have rice, chicken and soup everywhere. Also vegetarian dishes they can improvise for you
As in accommodation, dinner and food, there are also big differences in scenery between the road to the kite spot and the living of the local people. The village of Paracas up on the hill is more local, while down to the sea/front are some luxury restaurants, but also some local restaurants, a few hotels, hostels and small shops. The road to the kite spot is full of big houses all with swimming pool and luxury hotels. It’s a nice walk just to watch it all. You will see all the luxury hotels, but no shops or local food things around. All the food, restaurants, shops are located in and around Paracas. Just as the loading poles for your phone… Yes, you can charge our phone for free while watching the seafront (or getting asked a hundred times for dinner, but here no is no -I like that!
Some call it time travelling by opening the backdoor of the hostels on the main road. On one side its really nice, concrete, trees, benches, shops and like real-time – 2019. Opening the backdoor will put you 100 years back in time, sand roads, wooden houses but still nice people, shops and nothing to worry about. The streets get watered as well, otherwise, it will blow away. And Sunday morning you will see the people picking up all the garbage, I thought all these people were going to church…
That’s the basic area – San Martin around Paracas town you will see some concrete buildings, some wooden buildings, all different. You will hear the phone of the neighbour 8 wooden houses away and it will be always, always sound if they knock on your door, but in reality, it`s always on the door of some neighbour. That’s how thin the walls are. The people are nice and friendly, won’t sell you anything in this ere, you have to search and go in many times yourself. You will also find a nice soccer area and playground if you get bored. The beeping taxis you will find everywhere just like the bad sound that always needs to be on loud volume – televisions (while no-one is watching…I still don’t get it). But in the nights it`s nice and super quiet up in San Martin. Even though they are building sometimes the whole night. Paracas Town can be noisier, that’s where you go for a drink or dinner. San Martin is a great place to stay when you’re staying for the long term or want to have more for a small budget.
Photo Credits: Casey from Perukite
To be honest I can’t really answer this question, because I have been kiting every single day…..But from hearing I know there are Sunsets trips and lots of other activities like sandboarding, wakeboarding, SUP, boat trips, trips to the reserve, oasis and more. Also, a lot mentioned option is Paragliding (in the morning before the wind starts’. Or play soccer with the locals!! I never go anywhere without kites and soccer ball. It’s a great way to enjoy the no wind days or get to know the local community. I got this question a few days ago from a stranger, you have been here long? Well yes. What can I do in Paracas? Ehm kitesurfing? All but except kitesurfing… Okay, eeuhm well the Nature reserve? You can kite there as well…. Oke sorry I can’t help you out. This means that this place is perfect for kiting, every single day again and again. The only reason why I can’t answer this question, guess there will be more to do seeing all the tour companies.
Think Caley from DEEP – outdoor will be happy to help you with all non-kiting adventures (even in English)
But the best to do here is off course kiting or learn to kitesurf. I have seen a lot of people starting here and riding away, joining on kite-trips or making the first jumps. Peru Kite Paracas will help you reach that goal, be a friend, future family from this kiteboarding community and for sure the: #perukitefamily.
Around Paracas – Peanut butter!
So you are done with the shops in Paracas town? Can’t find the granola for breakfast or the Edam cheese? or still looking for that one jar of Nutella spread or peanut butter? Well, then its really time for a small trip to Pisco- town. Its bigger as Paracas and has several shops and big supermarkets, where you will find yes: real granola, peanut butter and Nutella!!!
For this you should go the Mega plaza, a big shopping centre, where they will have the most choice, but it will be a bit more expensive than the other shops in Pisco.
For more local groceries and cheaper than in Paracas and cheaper than the mega plaza, go to the Precio Uno – Hiperbodega.
How to get there? Is taking a cap (with a star on the door – shared with locals) for 3 soles to Pisco. Tell the driver to drop you off at the Mercado. They will usually go to the taxi places but if you tell them to drop you off over there they will 99% drop you off in front of the local supermarket. From this supermarket you can also walk to the market, where you will find a looooot of fruits for a really nice price J . From here you can walk to the Mega Plaza (around 15 minutes). To get back to Paracas you have to go to the taxi stand – Colectivo Paracas (close by the market and the local supermarket). Walk there and ask the locals or take a tricycle which will drop you off at the corner of the street where the taxis wait for you (2 soles). If you use another taxi, you will get there anywhere, but maybe by a free tour through all the streets of Pisco and driving endless around in Paracas to get a full car. The differences in taxis are huge, the same rice …some is really crappy, falling apart and some…. Super nice, offering you the newspaper and letting you choose a cd.
*Tip: use google maps or maps.me offline and don’t walk like the biggest tourist ( as it might be a bit less safe and less touristic than Paracas).
Concluding that my first two weeks in Peru are great, also in this part Staying in a nice place, cheap food, great people and nice walks every day. Knowing that there is much more to do than just kiting. Discover some unknown places, beaches and make your own tour through and around Paracas. I was not ready to leave yet.
Last but not least, read my article about kitesurfing in Peru – Paracas for some more inside knowledge about Paracas! Find the link here.