Punta Hermosa’s better places are in La Planicie, a quiet neighborhood to the north of town that offers a nice respite from the rowdy surfer scene in town, a 10-minute walk away. A good restaurant and Internet access are nearby, along with Señoritas and Caballeros beaches.
There are more hotels and nightlife, and the monster Pico Alto wave itself, near the center of Punta Hermosa—along with crowds of rowdy Brazilian and Argentinean surfers who are in town to test their mettle on waves that have made Punta Hermosa known as the Hawaii of South America.
Nearly all of the hotels below offer full pension—for another US$10–15 per day, you can take all your meals at your hostel. This is an excellent deal and a good way to avoid stomach issues.
Finding a room for under US$15 a night is possible, but not easy in Punta Hermosa’s high season. The best bet is to simply walk around town and look for signs that say Se Alquilan Cuartos (Rooms Are Rented Here)—these can often be clean and as cheap as US$8 pp per night. Surfer hostels spring up in Punta Hermosa in the summer and are listed at www.peruazul.com. We found many of these to be noisy, so choose carefully. For a mere US$12, Cebichería Carmencita will set up a tent on the beach for up to seven people and make a campfire.
In the Planicie neighborhood, long-time Punta Hermosa resident Marco León Villarán offers something for everyone at the Peru Adventure Lodge (Block Ñ, Lote 1, La Planicie, tel. 01/230-8316 or 01/230-8351, www.peruadventure.com, US$20 pp). His rooms are quiet, large, and comfortable, with tons of hot water and two labrador retrievers who can lick you awake every morning for a bit extra. He and his wife, Gloria, prepare excellent meals and his sons, Daniel and Joaquín, are excellent, English-speaking surfing instructors (US$10 for two hours). The family rents out boards and also organizes surf and fossil tours all along the Peruvian coast.
A good friend of Marco’s, right around the corner, is Flavio Solaria, a surfboard shaper and international surfing judge who runs Señoritas Surf Camp (Block Ñ, Lote 4, tel. 01/230-7578, srtsurfcamp [at] yahoo [dot] com, US$20 pp, full board). “What I offer is a lifestyle,” explains Flavio. “A surfer’s pension.” The wooden rooms are smaller and simpler than Marco’s, with tapestries from Bali and nice lighting. Rooms range from simple bunks to a private room with queen-size beds. Flavio also sells his extraordinary boards (US$300 for short, US$620 for long) and rents both boards (US$10/day) and wetsuits (US$5/day). He happily takes guests to nearby beaches and teaches them to surf at no additional charge.
A final surf camp in Planicie is the Punta Hermosa Surf Camp (Block R, Lote 19, tel. 01/230-8357, puntasurfcamp [at] hotmail [dot] com).
In Punta Hermosa, Hostal La Isla (Malecón Central 943, tel. 01/230-7146, sandrolaisla [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$16 s, US$30 d) is a relaxed guesthouse run by the family of longtime Punta Hermosa resident and surfer Sandro Testino. Though a bit more expensive than the rest, Hostal La Isla is on Punta Hermosa’s beach promenade, has nice ocean views, and is close to town but still quiet at night. The rooms are simple but comfortable with nice shared terraces. Services include laundry, surfboard rental, transport to surfing areas, and Internet.
Another camp is run by Oscar Morante, a surf guide who leads trips all around Peru for several international surfing agencies. His Pico Alto International Surf Camp (Block L, Lote 14, tel. 01/230-7297, www.picoalto.com.pe, US$25–35 pp, full board) is well worth it.
A final good hostel, also near the center, is Hospedaje Nylamp Wasi (Pacasmayo 167, tel. 01/230-8401, surfperu50 [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$10 s, US$20 d, including breakfast).
Hotel La Rotonda (Bolognesi 580, above the restaurant of the same name, tel. 01/230-7390, larotondasurfcamp [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$20 s, US$40 d) has eight nice rooms with ocean views and cable TV. These are right near the bars, however, and probably get noisy at night.
One of the nicest places to stay on the Peruvian coast, and one of the better values, must be Casa Barco (Punta Hermosa 340, tel. 01/230-7081, www.casabarco.com, US$18 dorm, US$55–72 d with breakfast). A five-minute walk from the center, this small and friendly hostel has a great pool with whirlpool tub, a beautiful flower garden, and a classy bar/restaurant with a full, reasonably priced menu of ceviche and other fish dishes.
The rooms have black-and-white floor tiles, luxurious beds, cable TV, wraparound porches with ocean views, and huge, beautiful showers. Shared rooms are much simpler, but clean with access to all the hotel’s services. The best part, however, is the art. The owners, ceramic artist Teresa Carvallo and writer Felix Portocarrera, have assembled a mind-blowing collection of contemporary art from Peru’s best painters and sculptors.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition