A guest post by Ellie Ryan.
Long, lazy days on the beach, warm ocean water, icy cold beer and tangy ceviche — take me to Zorritos, Peru…
Mancora is undoubtedly the most popular tourist destination in the far north of Peru, attracting local and international tourists all year long. But the north coast has a well-kept secret: the fishing and surfing town of Zorritos, 45 minutes north of Mancora. Boasting summer temperatures and warm ocean water all year long thanks to the Humboldt Current, Zorritos is a beach-lover’s paradise.
Things to See and Do in Zorritos
Drag yourself away from the beach and you’ll find two main tourist attractions in Zorritos: El Tubo and Los Hervideros.
El Tubo is a natural hot spring located in the desert-like hills 25 minutes outside of Zorritos and accessible via mototaxi or taxi. Due to the temperature, the best time to visit is in the late afternoon or evening, ideally with a cold beer.
Los Hervideros are natural medicinal mud baths, each one with its own healing property bestowed by the concentration of minerals found in the mud. Located 20 minutes from Zorritos, they can be reached via taxi or mototaxi and a donation is all that is required for a wash-down with water after you’ve lived it up in the mud.
Many local tour agencies offer packages that include El Tubo, Los Hervideros and Puerto Pizarro. The mangrove reserve at Puerto Pizarro is located north of Tumbes, approximately 45 minutes from Zorritos. It is where the ocean meets the river, producing many of the area’s jewels: freshwater pearls, crabs and conchas negras (black shells). A boat trip through the mangroves generally includes lunch at one of the islands followed by a visit to the crocodile sanctuary.
Once you’ve had your fix of sight-seeing, a great way of enjoying Zorritos’ warm ocean water is with some surf classes at the local surf school, Coco Beach. Coco is a local character with a highly apt nickname who works hard to develop local tourism in the area. Zorritos’ relatively small waves are ideal for beginners and a class with Coco includes an introduction to the basic moves from the safety of the sand, followed by a lengthy stretch in the water on a long-board.
Eating and Drinking in Zorritos
The majority of restaurants in Zorritos specialize in fish and seafood dishes; many of the standout places are frequented more often by locals rather than tourists.
The restaurant La Tia Gladys in the Los Pinos neighborhood of Zorritos offers incredibly fresh fish and seafood dishes at very affordable prices; it also boasts a gorgeous setting with ocean views and a refreshing breeze.
For non-regional cuisine, try D’ Carbón & Limón, which offers barbecued meats and charcoal chicken, or Chaska Resto-Bar, which serves tasty pizzas, chicken wings and hamburgers.
And what Peruvian town would be complete without a local chifa, Peru’s answer to Chinese food? In Zorritos, Kenaii is the place to go.
Nightlife is generally restricted to Saturday evenings in Zorritos. The favorite local haunts are Trotamundos, a rustic bar where people go to kick-start the evening before heading to the disco-pub Extasis to boogey the night away.
Hostels and Hotels in Zorritos
Zorritos offers accommodation options to suit all budgets, but a few hostels and hotels deserve special attention.
Sunset Club is a stunning day-club and hotel about 10 minutes from the center of Zorritos, located on two hectares of beachfront land. Sunset boasts a private beach, three pools, a tennis course, football pitch, volleyball and basketball courts and a park for the kids. With all-inclusive packages from $50 per person — including a beachfront room with ocean views and all meals — it’s a fantastic option. If you’re on a tight budget, you can still enjoy all Sunset has to offer by spending the day there; they offer the use of their facilities for $5 a day per person and children under five can enter for free.
Sun Beach is in the center of Zorritos (Av. República del Peru 88), next to the main general store Kottos. It is a well-established hospedaje with private rooms for one to six people along with a bar, restaurant and laundromat. It is also conveniently located next door to the Coco Beach Surf School.
For the environmentally conscious traveler or those on a shoestring budget, Grillo 3 Puntas Eco Hostel is a good option. Located in the Punta Camarron neighborhood south of the center of Zorritos, it offers camping and basic bungalows, making it popular with backpackers.
Getting to Zorritos
The Pan-American Highway runs straight through Zorritos, making it easy to reach by bus from most main cities along the coast.
The bus trip from Lima is approximately twenty hours, but if you’ve ever traveled in South America you’ll know that travel by bus is the most common form of transport and can be a luxurious and very comfortable experience, with big seats that go back like beds (called bus cama), as well as food and movies to keep you entertained.
The best bus companies for the trip to Zorritos are Cruz del Sur and Civa. Cruz del Sur and Civa are the only ones that stop in Zorritos (Oltursa goes directly to Tumbes). The Excluciva service with Civa is certainly one of the best, offering seats that recline to 180-degrees (making it easier to sleep) and your own TV for movies, for approximately US$55.
Keep in mind that when you book your bus tickets online, Zorritos will not appear as a destination — just Tumbes — even though these companies do stop in Zorritos.
Alternatively, you can fly from Lima to Tumbes and then head to Zorritos by bus. LAN Peru is the only airline that flies this route, making it quite expensive, especially for foreigners, due to the airline’s monopoly on the local market (and additional fees for non-Peruvians).
The flight is less than an hour and a half and Tumbes Airport is approximately an hour from Zorritos. Tickets can be booked online and should be organized in advance, particularly during the peak season months of December, January and February.
About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie who is proud to call Zorritos her second home. She trains people to become English language teachers in her TEFL training institute, TEFL Zorritos, and enjoys sharing this town with her trainees and fellow travelers.