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Paracas, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

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…

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Paracas, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

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. 

Paracas, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

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

Paracas town

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!

Paracas, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

Islas Ballestas

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!

Paracas, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

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, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

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!

Paracas, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

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 accommodation 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!

You can find great deals on Paracas accommodations here!

Paracas, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

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.

Guide to Paracas, Peru

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.

Paracas, Peru: Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal EscapeParacas, Peru

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!


Paracas, Peru - Your Guide to a Luxurious Coastal Escape

Have you been to Paracas before? What did you think of it?

*This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through the links on our website, we will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. We never recommend any products/services that we don’t absolutely love. These commissions help keep Travel Alphas up and running, and we thank you for your support!

Maddy Cornelius

Maddy is the co-founder and editor of Travel Alphas. Mint tea, handmade pasta, gelato, and red wine are among her favorite treats. New York City, Budapest, Bali, and Florence are a few of her most-loved destinations.

  • Victoria @The British Berliner

    ‘Sounds marvellous. Funnily enough, when I think of Peru, I don’t think of the beach at all just the mountains!

    November 12, 2016 at 1:15 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Most people don’t! But it was a nice change of pace after seeing Cusco and the Andes.

      November 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm Reply
  • Tara Higgins

    WOWOWOWOOWOWW. This looks incredible. I’m so excited for you and to hear that you’re enjoying your time in South America. Please head to the South Pacific soon?

    November 14, 2016 at 2:46 pm Reply
  • Abi Kennedy

    Wonderful post! The photos really justified the beauty in Peru! Thanks for sharing this!

    November 18, 2016 at 7:52 pm Reply
  • Amanda | Lesson Plans & Layovers

    What a lovely idea venturing to Paracas after tackling Machu Picchu!

    November 20, 2016 at 8:21 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      It was a nice way to relax after the trek for sure.

      November 21, 2016 at 10:22 am Reply
  • Natalie

    What an incredible place to visit! I love that it has a little bit of everything: the beach, archeological sites, and gorgeous natural sights. If we’re ever in Peru, I’ll have to put this on our itinerary!

    November 21, 2016 at 5:53 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      For those who don’t live near the beach, it’s definitely worth a visit!

      November 21, 2016 at 7:40 pm Reply
  • Rocio & Julian

    Looks like a great nature retreat, super nice! Seems like a totally different area as to Machu Picchu and the other sites you saw. Thanks for the inspiration, will definitely add it to our list of things to see when touring around South America.

    November 28, 2016 at 4:20 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Thanks for stopping by! It is a lovely place to relax and check out the nature.

      December 8, 2016 at 10:22 am Reply
  • Anne Grinham

    Is it possible for you to let us know which hotel you started at? We are looking now as we’re going in September this year. Was it Hotel Paracas?

    March 29, 2017 at 7:43 am Reply

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