After days of nonstop traveling through Lima and Cusco, and trekking to Machu Picchu, we were ready to slow down. So we scoured the internet, looking for the perfect seaside place to relax.
When we finally stumbled upon Paracas, Peru — and loads of photos of baby sea lions and sunsets — we knew it would be just the place…
When it came to the last leg of our trip, we had a few activities in mind.
First, we’d check ourselves into a beachfront resort. And get massages.
Then we’d drink plenty of Pisco sours.
Oh, and we’d also lounge by the pool, and eat our weight in fresh ceviche.
But wait! Before you start thinking this sounds like any typical beach-destination vacation, that’s not all we did.
In between all of that indulgence, we still wanted to adventure a bit.
Since Paracas is home to tons of wildlife, a national marine reserve, the Islas Ballestas, ancient Nazca culture, and more, we decided it was the perfect relaxation-adventure combination!
What to Do in Paracas, Peru
When it comes to the “downtown” of Paracas, there’s not a whole lot to do. After roaming the town for an hour or two, you’ll have seen it all. This is partially due to the fact that an 8.1 magnitude earthquake devastated much of Paracas back in 2007.
However, as you walk through the sleepy town, you’ll enjoy shopping for Peruvian handmade goods and chatting with the locals. There are also plenty of restaurants throughout the town and along the boardwalk where you can enjoy some ceviche, and maybe a Pisco sour!
The Islas Ballestas are widely known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos.”
While a trip to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador will likely cost you thousands of dollars, a short trip to the Ballestas will run you about $30 per person. Let’s get one thing straight, though: these islands are not nearly as spectacular.
For those who haven’t grown up by the beach, though, the Ballestas are fascinating. After a 40-minute boat ride from Paracas, you’ll find yourself surrounded by marine wildlife you may never have laid eyes on before.
From Peruvian boobies and Humboldt penguins, to cormorants and pelicans, you will see thousands of birds. You’ll also encounter lots of lazy sea lions sprawled out along the rocks. If you’re really lucky, you might also spot a pod of dolphins!
Ancient Archeological Sites
Throughout Southern Peru, there are many interesting pre-Inka archeological sites to explore, like the Nazca Lines.
The mysterious Nazca Lines are geoglyphs that were etched into Southern Peru’s desert landscape by the Nazca people, between 200 BCE and 600 CE. Just inland from Paracas, in and around Nazca, there are over 10,000 lines, stretching over more than 1,000 square kilometers, depicting figures like animals, humans, and plants. Many of these lines were actually pointing toward water sources or connected to sacred sites.
If you’re looking for an adventure, you can even book a helicopter tour to fly over the Nazca Lines!
However, you can also see a giant geoglyph on your way to the Ballestas. This geoglyph, known as the Paracas Candelabra, has been dated back to 200 BCE. While its meaning and creators are unknown, there are some interesting theories about the symbol. Read more about it here.
Paracas National Reserve
The Paracas National Reserve is another huge draw to Paracas. Including the Paracas desert, coast, and sea, this area is committed to protecting Peru’s unique marine ecosystems and its pre-Inka archaeological sites (such as the Candelabra).
Within the Paracas National Reserve, you can check out the wildlife, go fishing, diving, kayaking, and hiking, and you can also take dune buggy and sandboarding tours!
Staying in Paracas, Peru
We decided we wanted to spoil ourselves a bit, so we checked into Paracas’s swankiest resort. And can you blame us, after four days of hiking, biking, rafting, and zip lining all the way to Machu Picchu?
Since the town of Paracas is a tiny, the accomodation options are slim; we stayed at the only five-star resort in town, though there are a couple four-star properties, too, as well as budget hotels and hostels!
For the most part, our four-day stay in Paracas was spent on the property. We just wanted to kick back and relax, before our flight back to Los Angeles. Plus, since we had the cutest beach villa around, it was hard to stray too far!
We lounged in the cabanas by the pool, explored the resort’s restaurants, hit the spa for massages; in other words, we did a whole lot of nothing. And it was exactly what we needed to rejuvenate! It was perfect.
Arriving in Paracas, Peru
Paracas, Peru lies three to four hours south of Lima, depending on traffic. But since traffic is insane in Lima, you can pretty much count on a four-hour journey.
There are two ways to arrive in Paracas: by bus or car.
You can either arrange for a private driver, or you can rent a car and drive yourself; these are definitely the pricier options.
The easiest, cheapest way to Paracas, would be to take the bus with Cruz del Sur. We booked first-class tickets (they were only a couple dollars extra — totally worth it) and enjoyed an ultra-comfy bus ride in giant leather seats with personal television screens.
If you’re a fan of marine adventures, fresh seafood, and history, Paracas is somewhere you shouldn’t leave off of your Peru itinerary. And if you’re anything like us, you’ll crave a few lazy days by the sea after climbing in high altitude all the way to Machu Picchu!
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Have you been to Paracas before? What did you think of it?