Peru’s south coast is a destination in its own right and should not be missed! When you think of Peru, you think of Machu Picchu. However, to miss the south coast would skip some quintessentially Peruvian adventures.
A visit to the south coast of Peru connects you to some lesser known Peruvian cultures as well as the contemporary afro Peruvian and Latino culture. We love a visit to the south coast for a getaway. PLUS, it has lots to do and see that kids will enjoy.
Also, most important, remember that Peru’s coast typically has very different weather than the Andes. The wettest months in the Andes (often referred to as the ‘worst’ months to visit Machu Picchu) are the dry sunny ones on the coast (December, January, & February).
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Peru’s South Coast: Paracas
Paracas is an excellent base to explore Peru’s South Coast, especially for a getaway with kids.
- Enjoy the feel of a Seaside Village.
In the village of Paracas there is a wide malecon (pier) for running, watching the boats, enjoying the pelicans and doing pelican feeding in morning.
There are a number of fantastic resorts in the Paracas area, with swimming pools and all the facilities you would expect from a resort. We spent a whole day just relaxing in the pools of our hotel. Read our full review of Hotel Paracas here. Check here for current rates and more information.
If you are not staying at a place with a pool, or prefer the beach, Las Minas comes highly recommended by the locals. Just ask a taxi driver to take you out there. Make sure he waits or you know how to get back!
- Islas Ballestas (The Balllestas Islands)
A visit to these islands is a MUST for any wildlife loving family. You can see Humboldt Penguins, sea birds and a smelly (!) sea lion colony. The boats leave in the morning for a 2-3 hour tour and go quite fast – jumpers and sunscreen are recommended. We opted NOT to do this trip with our toddler. Having done it several years before, we felt that he wouldn’t do well in the confined space of the boat.
DO check the quality of the boats – and make sure that there is a life jacket for everyone, especially properly fitting ones for the smaller members of your family!
- The Paracas Reserve
We took a half day trip out to the Paracas Reserve and would strongly recommend taking a private car (our default option when traveling with kids) or a tour. For older kids, say 8 plus, the Julio C.Tello Museum has some stunning exhibits. With a 5-year-old we did enjoy a brief look at the Museo Julio C. Tello. Especially the Paracas mummies that are buried in exquisite clothes and wrapped in exquisite textiles.
Peru’s South Coast: Ica & Huacachina
Ica and Huacachina can be visited as a longer day tours from Paracas, or you could choose to base yourself in either place.
Huacachina is a desert oasis and tiny village just west of the city of Ica. Mumma traveler has visited on a number of occasions and always found the oasis itself a little underwhelming. Especially considering its fame as sufficiently noteworthy to appear on the Peruvian 50 Nuevo Sol note! But, Huacachina does have plenty to do for kids.
Our 5-year-old LOVED the paddleboats around the Lake! Nuff said. Lots of fun.
At 5 she was a bit little to give a go to sandboarding but I’d say kids from 8 up would have a ball. At 5 and 2 the kids loved running up and down the dunes. I mean, who wouldn’t love a giant Sandpit??
Visiting with a multi-generational family aged from 70+ to 2 years we didn’t give the dune buggies a go, despite all the uber cool drivers promising us they would go slow! We would do this with older kids but go with a reputable company and ask around so that you are clear about what you want to do. There are routes for dare-devils and there are more sedate routes to go out and watch the sunset. Be clear about what you are looking for. Remember that there have been tourist deaths on these buggies due to a lack of regulation and inexperienced drivers!
Even for those not particularly into their wines, Tacama Vineyard was worth a visit for its history. It is the first vineyard in Peru and also possibly the first in South America. There are beautiful buildings, and a tour that documents the wine making process. While there are plenty of other places that offer wine tasting, or explanations of Pisco (Peru’s pride), Tacama is by far the best set up. Best of all, has a pretty cool little playground. This one wins for all members of the family!
Staying at Vinas Queirolo
In this area we opted to stay at the relatively new Hotel Vinas Queirolo which is the only hotel in Peru located in a working vineyard. We thought that this was an old vineyard converted to a hotel, but later discovered that the entire hotel was purpose-built (but still very attractive!) The hotel has the same owners as the Pisco Don Santiago Queirolo and Intipalka wines and you can learn about how they are made in the on-site tours. Check here for currents rates and for more information.
For us, having a vista of the vineyards, silence of a farm at night and walks in the countryside were perhaps more appealing than the actual wine making tour. Best of all there is a spectacular outdoor swimming pool, a trampoline and bikes to ride.
On the way to Peru’s South Coast
Famous for its Afro- Peruvian culture Chincha is 2.5 hours south of Lima, and an hour north of Paracas. It is an interesting stop en route, especially if you are traveling with small kids. We stayed for two nights at the Hacienda San Jose (read our full review of this wonderful hotel here) but you can also visit the Catacombs and Chapel, while the kids will love playing on their excellent Playground. Check here for currents rates and for more information.
Ask around as to which local restaurants are offering a Criolla (Creole) Dance Show. We saw one on a Sunday, but it seemed that it changed around and wasn’t consistent!
Interested in traveling to Peru with Kids?
We are working on a Peru destination guide that is jam-packed with useful information. If you are visiting the South Coast of Peru its likely that you will also need to visit Lima, and these posts will be useful:
This post was featured on #MondayEscapes hosted by Travel Loving Family
Interested in Peru’s South Coast with Kids?
If you are interested in Peru’s South Coast, you will need a place to stay: Amazing Hotels On Peru’s Southern Coast
Specific Hotels that we have stayed at:
A beach getaway on Peru’s South Coast Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort Review
A very unique heritage listed place Casa Hacienda San Jose Hotel Review
We’ve traveled with Lonely Planet for over 20 years! For unbiased and detailed advice, they are our trusted guide-book. Even in this digital age, you can’t go past them for maps and info on the go. Take a Look.
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