Paracas is a small fishermen’s village 250 km South of Lima, Perú. It is mostly known for the Ballestas Islands, for the wildlife living amongst them, and also for the ancient Paracas Culture. However, there’s definitely more things to do in this desertic Peruvian paradise: from Kiteboarding to Stand Up Paddling, here are the top 10 things to do in Paracas!
1. LEARN TO KITESURF (or just come and kite if you know how to!)
Paracas is a world class spot to practice kiteboarding! Conditions are just perfect for learning or progressing due to the presence of constant wind all year round, flat water, sandy bottom, and shallow water areas in the safety of the bay. The kite spot is a 5 minutes taxi drive from Paracas town and the beach vibes are awesome. So even if you come down with someone who doesn’t want to kite, they will have a great time enjoying a beer and watching the kite surfers showing off doing their tricks. The wind blows all year round, however the best season to come and learn is from November all the way till April! For more information click here.
TIP: Wind normally starts around midday and it continues until sunset, so you have all morning to do other activities and kitesurf in the afternoon ?. No wind? Enjoy a Aussie/Argy barbecue or have some beers at the chillout area!
2. EXPLORE THE PARACAS NATIONAL RESERVE
The Paracas National Reserve has breathtaking landscapes; it literally feels like being on a different planet. We are not very keen on touristy activities so we believe one of the best ways to explore this endless desert is renting your own bike or motorbike, find your way, and go at your own pace. The roads are easy to follow and it’s hard to get lost if you use the Ocean as your reference. Google Maps will help as well, just remember to download the maps before leaving because there is no cellphone reception inside the Reserve. If this is too adventurous for you a good option is going with a buggy tour and guide that will take you to the most popular places.
Another perfect way to explore this protected National Park is by joining one of our KITE Trips where our legendary LandCruisers will take you to some amazing spots that no other tour company will take you to (and way too far to go with a bike). Have a blast kitesurfing, or just sightseeing, and enjoy the sunset with a cold beer.
TIP: remember you will be in the middle of the desert so take some water, sunscreen and clothes to protect you from the sun and wind. Also, the wind normally picks up at around midday so if you are going in on a bike it’s better to do it early in the morning, around 7 am. The entrance to the reserve is 11 soles (around 3 usd).
3. STAND UP PADDLE & MEDITATION IN THE PARACAS BAY
Very early in the mornings, we are talking between 6 to 9am, there is no wind and the bay becomes super glassy and perfect for practicing Stand Up Paddle. It really seems that you are at a different spot when there is no wind. The water becomes crystal clear and all you can hear is the sound of hundreds of birds chirping as they overfly looking for their morning breakfast. If you are lucky you can get to see turtles, sea lions and even dolphins! If you want to have an even stronger connection with nature and yourself during this excursions you can have a guided meditation on your Paddle floating in the middle of the bay.
TIP: the boards are super big so most likely you won’t fall at any time but just in case bring swimming clothes and a towel.
4. BUGGIES, SAND BOARDING & OASIS
Going to the desert on a buggy with a local driver can be compared to going to an amusement park and hopping onto a roller coaster, it is real adrenaline. Hearing the V8 engine roar as you cruise through the dunes jumping and sliding down massive mountains of sand will make you feel alive! After the drive you can try sandboarding off some pretty cool dunes, you can do this standing up, kinda like snowboarding but not such a similar feeling, or you can do it sitting down (for the less brave). After all this adrenaline, and probably being covered in sand, rinse off and cool down at the fresh waters of the Costa Rica or Moron Oasis while you enjoy the view.
TIP: Again, since we aren’t very keen on touristy tours we are not recommending the famous Huacachina Oasis, which is amazing. However, there are other famous buggy tours that will take you to a solitary oasis where you can swim and enjoy you’re eleven o clock beer undisturbed.
A yoga session is a great way to start or end your day, whether you are a yoga junkie or you have never done it before you will feel energized and connected with all the nature around you. If you are kiteboarding or surfing this is the perfect combination for before or after your sessions.
Related to kiteboarding, after years of experience we found that a yoga lesson will give you the flexibility you need to get that board on when you are going for your first waterstarts. Not only this, but you will feel more relaxed and focused to start merging all the elements of kiteboarding together. On top of this “The Yoga Temple” has an incredible overview of the bay. As you can see, you can combine the top ten things to do in Paracas, and live an even greater experience in this beautiful village.
TIP: take comfy clothes with you and something to keep you warm during the final relaxation.
6. LUNCH AT INTIMARE
Peru is known for its exquisite culinary wonders so theres is no doubt we had to include food in our top ten list. All along this amazing country you will find the most tasty dishes made with love and created with local knowledge. However, we have a recommendation that will exceed all of your expectations.
Intimare is located inside the National Reserve, just before getting to the Industrial Port. This restaurant goes by the rule “From the ocean to your dish”, and it couldn’t be more accurate. They have their own scallop farm right in front of the restaurant so it is guaranteed that you will eat the freshest “Ceviche de concha” in town!
Having lunch at Intimare feels like going away to a private little beach. Since the restaurant is far from town you will have to take a taxi, however it is absolutely worth it. While you wait for food, or once your done with this culinary once in a lifetime experience, you can chill under the shade of the beach umbrellas by the ocean and enjoy the Paracas Bay from another point of view.
EXTRA: If you are into crazy adventures and you are a kiteboarder we have a special offer for you that might make this experience even more epic. Cross the Paracas Bay from the Kite Point to Intimare riding your kite, land the kite at the beach or park it at the Intimare Pier, have lunch and a cold beer and come back to the point riding again! Contact the staff for more information on this crazy culinary experience!
TIP: if you are not kiting there the best thing is to go when the wind is not that strong, before midday.
7. BALLESTAS ISLANDS
Even though this is the most touristy thing around, there’s no other way to see the Ballestas Islands than jumping into one of the speedboats that take you there. It’s not really expensive, around 45 soles (15usd) and it includes the entrance fee to the National Reserve, the boat that takes you there, shows you around and takes you back. It also includes a guide that usually speaks in Spanish and English providing interesting information about the different type of birds, penguins, sea lions, starfish and also about the guano harvesting industry that goes on in these islands.
If you manage to imagine the place without the other 20 boats going around the islands, you get to witness the amazing wildlife in their natural habitat. So it’s definitely worth it and we recommend it. If you are lucky you might see dolphins or the feeding frenzy action of the birds diving into the water like torpedoes to hunt down the anchovy shoals.
TIP: the boat ride is only in morning hours (8am or 10am) so depending on the time of the year it can get cold, take warm clothes with you! If you are a kiteboarder we recommend taking the early shift since the wind usually picks up around midday and if you’re stuck in the boat and you feel the breeze you might go a little crazy!
8. TAKE A WALK
As we said, Paracas is a lovely small village so walking around is a great way to explore it and get to real feel for it. You will encounter several sights that seem to come out of a postcard. Start off walking through town and enjoying the hospitality of the local people, offering help, guidance and a lot of touristy packages ?. Moving on to the Malecon, the coastal pathway, to check the artisan craftsmanship shops while you enjoy the fishing boats anchored along the bay. Get some souvenirs for your friends back home and support the local businesses that live of tourism.
Continue your hike following the path that goes alongside the shoreline, heading south. This beautiful little passage goes from town all the way up to the kitesurfing point, located right at the edge of the National Reserve. You will get to see the different colours of the bay from diverse points of view. You will also get to see all the huge weekend houses with their well taken care of gardens facing the ocean. Sit down at any point to observe a breathtaking sunset. This walk from town to the kite point takes around 45 minutes.
TIP: when you start the hike, closer to town, you will encounter an open gate blocking the pathway, this is the 5 Star Paracas Hotel, you can go through it with no problem at all. You can even pretend to be a guest and walk around with your head high ?.
Take a look at the Paracas National Reserve landscapes from another perspective with a tandem flight in paraglide. If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, this is the perfect activity for you. A different way of discovering the vast Peruvian Desert that spreads out through kilometers of shoreline. If you are a kiteboarder this is the perfect combination; while you wait for the wind to get stronger, enjoy the morning sea breeze and take a flight. For more info click here.
10. DINNER AT MISKI
Once again we will recommend food as a crucial activity to do whilst in Peru. However, this time we have a different offer on the menu. Let’s say you’ve been traveling around this country for a while and you kinda got tired of the local food. Ceviche is taking a tall and you want something that reminds you of home.
To finish your perfect Paracas day go to Misk’i reggae bar for the best food and drinks in town. This is without a doubt the coolest restaurant in town if you’re putting price and quality on the balance. Not only this but the vibes in this place are off the charts, all the staff is super helpful, and the music is super! Catch up with other fellow tourists (and kiters) while you enjoy the specially prepared cocktails. Misk’i also has a great selection of beers; starting from the two most locally known, Pilsen and Cusqueña, and finishing off with a craft Candelaria Brew.
Everything on the menu is finger licking good but the Uff Burger, the Pizzas and the Enchiladas rock (specially the chicken, bacon and cheese).
TIP: If you are looking for some night action this is what people usually do on the weekend (and during the week too ?). Start the night at Misk’i with some food and drinks. Once you’ve finished dinner keep on drinking until the staff tells you it’s time to close, this will be around 11.00pm. The night moves on to famous party Hostel Kokopelli, just a few blocks away from the restaurant. Usually everyone walks together and when getting to the hostel the party gets wild! After this, we are not responsible for what happens to you ?.
11. BONUS TRACK: SURF SAN GALLAN.
Peru is known for having the best left-hander point breaks in all of the South American Pacific. However, Paracas hosts the best barrelling right-hander in the country. Wake up early in the morning, and I mean 5am early, and get on a speedboat that will take you to the Island in around 40 minutes. Surf until your shoulders are completely gone and come back with the sun hitting the huge smile on your face, falling asleep because you are just too tired from all that surfing. We know San Gallan Xpeditions are the best way to get there so don’t hesitate to contact them for the surf trip of a lifetime.
These are the top ten things to do in Paracas, so you might start thinking on extending your days here to make the best out of your visit!
If you are interested in enjoying all of these activities during a perfect Paracas week, please check out the Kangaroo Kite Camps, where everything is included and all you have to do is relax and enjoy! And, of course, if you need any help feel free to contact us!
Written by Agostina Talpo and Juan Lena