Following the highway from the Talara airport to Arennas Máncora felt like winding through some sort of biblical epic. Several times during the hour-long drive along seemingly endless stretches of desert, I half expect to see a bearded, linen-shrouded man on the horizon, waiting to shepherd us to our fire and brimstone fate. The red clay dirt lays uninterrupted for miles, aside from patient swarms of black vultures perched atop imposing boulders.
It was an hour and six minutes until we reached a dusty, colorful town. Máncora is a beach town and the coastal escape for many Peruvians who venture northward on holiday. There are fishermen dressed in every color of the rainbow and surf schools in abundance. At the front gates of Arennas Máncora—decidedly not the pearly white gates of heaven, but close enough—what awaits on the other side is a paradise all its own.
Why it’s worth the trip:
Though Arennas is a luxury property, it’s not a traditional beach resort in an over-touristed area. Not only is it owned by Peruvians—it’s frequented by them, too. At Arennas, we had access to a private pool and hot tub—plus a private beach, which overlooks the actual beach not 10 steps away. The former was strategically built with surrounding foliage to protect from the winds; otherwise, fall asleep on the public beach like I did my second day and wake up half buried beneath silky white sand. Locals love it here. Getting here from Lima (two-hour flight) or Cusco isn’t the easiest, but I can’t think of a better way to unwind after time spent up in the Sacred Valley than enjoying the view and hospitality at Arennas. Serene, sincere, and downright sexy.
You’ll like it here if…
If you’re a seafood junkie like me, trekking to this place is practically a religious pilgrimage—ceviche was invented on the beaches of northern Peru! Prefer to admire ocean dwellers from afar instead of on your plate? You’ll love it here, too. Humpbacks frequent these waters in late summer and early fall and love to put on a show.
Expect fashionable nationals from other regions in Peru, in-the-know tourists from around the world who want more of a boutique experience than a traditional resort, and maybe a family or two.
How to prepare:
Minimal prep necessary—don’t forget a bathing suit and a light sweater (you’ll want to sit out by the fire at night!), and if you want to see some wildlife, plan around migration patterns. The hotel will help you book whale watching tours once you’re on the property.
Food and drink here are both exquisite. In the morning, roll out of bed early, enjoy a fresh juice delivered to your room, and survey the Pacific from your bedroom window or private lawn. Come nightfall, enjoy traditional Peruvian food with a modern twist at the hotel’s outdoor restaurant and share stories with friends around a firepit. Order a fruity cocktail, a plate of ceviche, and a couple of causas. Enjoy by the pool. Rinse, repeat.
While you’re in the area…
Part of the beauty of Máncora is that there’s not much else to do in the area but unplug and relax! But if you can, embark on one of the whale-watching tours that leave from a dock not 20 minutes from your open-air shower. If you’re lucky like we were, you’ll cruise past veritable parades of dolphins—hundreds at a time—and watch mother humpbacks teach their babies how to jump clear out of the water. Our guide even dipped a microphone into the blue so we could hear the songs of the males swimming much deeper beneath the surface.