El Faraón: Just north of Lima lie several pleasant beaches. One of them is La Isla: at Km 190 of the North Pan-American Highway near the town of Puerto Supe, where a detour heads for the sea and runs down to a vast and solitary stretch of coastline. The locals call it El Faraón (The Pharaoh), as out to sea rears an island which resembles an Egyptian pyramid. Beach-goers often swim the 100 feet that separates the beach from the island, as behind it lies a lagoon where one can spend the day in solitude. For the hungry, there is the town of Supe, where restaurants prepare fish and shellfish dish such as cebiches, jaleas and parihuelas as well as the classic chicken-and-corn tamales.
El Paraíso: In the department of Lima, the peninsula and beaches of El Paraíso (El Palmero, Tilca Tocoy and others) meet all the requisites to do honor to its name (The Paradise): dozens of solitary beaches, a clean and tranquil sea, good fishing and bright sunshine during the summer. During the summer months, the beaches are visited by vacationers seeking peace and quiet and a beautiful natural scenario. Nearby to the north lies the lagoon Playa Chica, a haven for a variety of species of wildlife. The area tends to be windy in the afternoon. This spot lies between the saltflats Las Salinas de Huacho and the town of Huacho itself. To get there, one needs to take the detour at Km 135 of the North Pan-American Highway. Apt for all kinds of vehicles.
Ancón: Located at Km 38, this beach resort is lined by a zig-zagging coastal promenade lined with old wooden mansions and modern apartment blocks alike. Ancón features an interesting museum, the old train station and the chance to taste the traditional cebiche de pejerrey (mackerel marinated in lemon juice) down at the pier. Visitors in search of more solitary beaches can check out San Francisco Chico(on foot), San Francisco Grande (by boat, which can be hired at the pier) or the neighboring resort of Santa Rosa (by car).
El Silencio: South of Lima sprawls a series of beaches, including El Silencio, half an hour from the capital. After passing the Pachacamac pre-Hispanic temple and the whale-shaped island Isla de la Ballena, drivers head down a dirt track which leads to this U-shaped beach. El Silencio is one of the most popular beaches because of its clear waters, gentle waves, thick sand (which does not stick to the skin) and plenty of parking space and restaurants. There are no houses on the beach, but overlook the bay from the cliffs above.
Punta Rocas: Also just south of Lima, this beach is a hotspot with the surfing crowd. A small rocky outcrop dominates a sandy beach which stages national and international surfing championships and rock concerts. The beach also features seafood restaurants known as cebicherías.
Punta Hermosa and Punta Negra: These pretty Lima seaside resorts resemble each other in architecture, although with topographical variations: Punta Hermosa features three beaches and a small island just off the mainland; Punta Negra, meanwhile, is an open beach where swimmers should be careful. Both spots feature hostels and restaurants and are ideal for all kinds of watersports.
San Bartolo: The largest beach resort near Lima. San Bartolo is practically a small city whose beach is fairly stony and home to Punta El Peñascal, a beach made up of rocky bluffs with good surfing waves. This traditional resort town, lined with coastal promenades, also features a spot called El Huayco, which is visited year-round by the surfing crowd.
Santa María: Santa María is the most luxurious beach resort south of Lima, with buildings built along the cliffs and tiny beaches with little sand. The resort also features Embajadores, a pretty, half-moon shaped beach fringed with sand and which is at times engulfed by the sea. The sea here is placid and the shoreline flat, making it ideal for swimming.
Pucusana: Pucusana, a seaside resort and fishing cove, features an impressive 50-meter tunnel drilled through the living rock. Waves crash through the channel known as the "Boquerón del Diablo" (The Devil's Mouth). Pucusana is an active fishing town, where dozens of boats bob on the calm sea, where gentle waves lap at the dark sand. There is plenty to see in Pucusana: a bustling pier filled with hungry pelicans, a hidden cove known as Las Ningas, and the tunnel formed by the waves, a phenomenon not found anywhere else along the coast. From Pucusana one can reach Naplo, a beach lined with fine houses and a calm sea. Pucusana also provides access to the only resort reached only by sea, Islas Galapagos. This towering island features luxurious residences, a small beach and a mirror-smooth sea.
Bujama and Chocaya: Near the town Mala (Km 100), in the department of Lima, and famous for its chicharrones (pork fritters) and cornmash tamales, lie two beaches: Bujama, with a flat, sandy beach and crushed seashells at the far end, with large beach cottages. The sea is tranquil and the beach barely slopes down to the ocean. A town lies close by, known as Caleta Bujama. The other beach is Chocaya, a flat sandy beach which features gusting winds and a rough sea. The beach is generally bereft of visitors (although with the occasional camper), while further south lie many more beach towns.
Chepeconde:Further south, at Km 119.5 lies Chepeconde, where cliffs jut out into the sea and there are mysterious interconnecting caves. The beach, known to some as La Barca, was discovered by camping enthusiasts two decades ago. Since then, it has become increasingly popular, and is now one of the most heavily-visited camping spots during the summer. The beach is made of fine sand, with a clean and tranquil sea. Cliffs split the beach into three sections, where the northern stretch is the most heavily-visited. Chepeconde is reached via a detour, at Km 120 of the South Pan-American Highway. Apt for all vehicles.
Cerro Azul: Located 131 km south of Lima down the South Pan-American Highway, Cerro Azul was once a bustling and prosperous port until May 1, 1971, when the Greek ship Chrysovalndov used its installations for the last time. An aging pier remains as a mute witness of those heady days, and today is only visited by fishermen and surfers. The beach, which features several hotels and restaurants, is dominated by the Centinela hill, which reaches out into the sea like a second pier. The hillsides still feature pre-Hispanic ruins which according to sixteenth-century Spanish chronicler Pedro Cieza de León, was once a light green color, but which looks blue (hence its name, Blue Hill) when spotted from the sea. The beach town is popular amongst campers.
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