Uncommon Destination: What to do in Paracas, Peru

A small town located on the west coast of South America, Paracas, Peru is not a place you want to miss.

The streets of the main village, El Chaco, are lined with hotels and hostels to stay in and the Pacific shoreline offers plenty of tasteful restaurants. If you are lucky, you may even find yourself at a wine tour (as I once did) trying the very intense Pisco Sours.

Whether planning an escape from your country to South America or are stopping in Paracas, Peru for a cruise port, make sure you take advantage of the opportunities provided by the beautiful culture and breathtaking scenery.

adventures in Paracas

Islas Ballestas

Home to some of the cutest animals you will ever see, Islas Ballestas will definitely be at the top when visiting Paracas, Peru.

Just a short boat ride out of Paracas will bring you to an amazing sea life journey where you have the chance to see sea lions, baby penguins, a large variety of birds, and potentially a dolphin! Originally coined as the poor man’s Galapagos Islands, this excursion will leave you breathless. Unfortunately, you will not be able to walk around the island as these tours take place solely from the speedboat with life jackets provided.

things to do in Paracas

Huacachina Oasis

The next top place you will want to visit is Huacachina Oasis. Located in the middle of the desert as South America’s only natural desert oasis, this location will surely amaze you.

This village built around a small oasis has a tiny population of around 100 people who really almost solely on tourism. This is the destination if you want to ride the sand dunes through the carts or sandboarding (both of which I enjoyed!). Make sure to bring tons of sunscreen and a hat to this oasis as the sun is very intense. Don’t worry, you will see vendors throughout the streets attempting to sell you face scarves to protect your skin while in the sand dunes if you forget.

After a long day in the sun, I am sure you will be ready for an authentic Pisco winery tour. For only around 30 minutes of your time, you will receive an in-depth tour of their facilities and if your lucky, a sampling of all their offerings before you leave.

hacienda san jose adventures in paracas

Hacienda San José

If you would prefer a day indoors, look no further. As an ex-sugar plantation, this hacienda has an eery past.

As one of Peru’s national heritage buildings, Hacienda San José was home to families who kept slaves. As a visitor, you will be shown the Catacombs, punishment room, and the Chapel on the property through a guided tour. You will also be given the opportunity to see the beautiful gardens, terraces, colonial gallery, and outdoor swimming pool found throughout the property.

If you are feeling hungry make sure to stop in at the on-site restaurant where they cook gourmet dishes spanning from traditional to modern.

Things to do in Paracas

Paracas National Reserve

If you just cannot get enough of the beautiful scenery found here in Peru, this is the perfect next stop. Peru’s Red Beach (also known as Playa Roja) boasts deep blue waters that storm onto the contrasting red beaches.

Spanning over 827,450 acres, you will not be able to see the entire reserve on this trip. However, a way to see a lot of it is through a popular ATV self-drive tour which is offered on the National Reserve. The only requirements include having personal travel insurance and being over 18 years of age.

You will also see loads of Peru’s natural wildlife including many of the animals seen on Ballestas Islands. Make sure to bring your binoculars and prepare to snap a picture if you see one of Peru’s rare species.

Paracas Attractions

Paracas Candelabra

The Paracas Candelabra, also known as Candelabra of the Andes, is a highly respected prehistoric geoglyph found in the face of the Paracas Peninsula of Pisco Bay.

Many speculate as to the origin of this geoglyph, however, a few common myths have arisen. One of these attributes the formation to Jose de San Martin who was a 19th-century leader who fought for Peruvian independence. On the other hand, some speculate it is a Masonic symbol while sailors believe it was created as a sign they could use for landfall when viewed from the sea.

Known as one of Paracas’ few mysteries, you need to go investigate for yourself! As this is also in the desert, be prepared for the intense sun with sunscreen and face guards.


Whether planning an escape from your country to South America or are stopping in Paracas, Peru for a cruise port, make sure you take advantage of the opportunities provided by the beautiful culture and breathtaking scenery.

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