3 Best Things to Do in Paracas in Peru’s Hidden Gem

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Paracas is without a doubt a destination that will surprise you. Paracas is located along the coast with two impressive natural parks nearby. Both nature parks have a rich marine ecosystem where you will be amazed by the natural beauty of the land and the animals you will see.

Paracas is often skipped, in this article, you can read why Paracas is worth a visit, what you can do, the best accommodations, and more Paracas tips. For us, Paracas is a hidden gem. Discover here: things to do in Paracas, Peru.

Paracas tour

Things to do in Paracas?

Paracas is a small fishing village that is attracting each day more travelers as it becomes known what Paracas has to offer. Paracas is also called the small variant of the Galapagos Islands. Besides the islands off the coast of Paracas, there are a couple of other fun things to do. Read below our 3 recommended activities to do in Paracas, Peru.

Tip: use the map below to see where the best things in Paracas are located. Click on the top right corner to enlarge the map. If you click on the star symbol next to the title, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. You can show or hide different categories on the map. You can use this map to navigate when you are in Paracas.

#1 Visit Paracas National Park

When arriving in Paracas, it is recommended that you first visit Paracas National Reserve, also known as Paracas National Park. Many travelers who visit Paracas find the Ballestas Islands the best activity. However, we believe that Paracas National Park is the highlight of your trip to Paracas. This is where you will find one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world.

This area is home to many birds such as flamingos and pelicans. You can see millions of years old fossils and best of all is the landscape itself. Nature is untouched and the various bays with the wild ocean are breathtaking to see.

When we visited Paracas National Park there was no other traveler. This makes you feel like you are in a no man’s land. It is beautiful to see the ocean, mountains, and desert landscape so pure.

Paracas Paracas National Reserve

Paracas National Reserve tour or indenpendently?

When you visit Paracas National Park you have to make a choice, will you visit the park with a tour or independently. Each has its advantages.

Paracas National Park tour: if you follow a tour, the big advantage is that the program connects seamlessly. In this case, it is best to book a combination tour where you visit the national park and the Ballestas Islands in one day. A condition for this is that you are in Paracas before 11:00 am. You can read our advice regarding the program further on in this article.

Paracas National Park independently: the advantage of organizing independently is that you are not dependent on a strict schedule. The condition is that you speak Spanish because you have to ask a local person if they want to show you the park. It is very simple, speak to someone on the main street and ask what they can do.

The advantage of doing it independently with a local is that you can visit the park in the afternoon when all tours have already visited the park. It is also not necessary to travel extremely early from Lima to Paracas because you do not necessarily have to be in Paracas before 11:00 am. The only disadvantage is that you have to be the type of traveler to do this, if you do not want to arrange this or would like to be sure, it is better to take a combination tour.

Paracas Paracas National Reserve tour guide

#2 Boat trip to the Ballestas islands

A visit to the Ballestas Islands is a must when you are in Paracas. The Ballestas Islands can be compared with the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, only it is smaller. During a boat trip, you visit different locations in the nature reserve where you get the chance to see animals in their natural habitat. The fact that you get very close to the animals makes the experience very special to us. This is a nice place for photographers because you can take nice close-up pictures. During the tour, the guide gives information about the area and the animals and explains why this part of Peru is so special.

Ballestas islands tour

We recommend that when you also want to visit Paracas National Park to get a combination ticket so that you visit both places. If you only want to visit the Ballestas Islands, this is also possible, you can book a separate tour via this link.

You can also book the tour on the spot through the accommodation or directly at the port. In this case, it costs 40 Soles ($8). Make sure to be there at 08:00 am, the tour takes about 2 hours.

Ballestas islands tour
Ballestas islands wild life
Ballestas islands wild life birds

When do you do which activity in Paracas?

The answer to this question depends on how you want to organize your day in Paracas. You have two choices: (option 1) visit both spots in the morning through a combination tour after you stayed in Paracas or (option 2) visit Paracas National Park on arrival and visit the Ballestas Islands the next morning.

Option 1: for travelers who want to travel quietly without stress, we recommend option 1. Most travelers have just landed in Lima and could use the extra hours of sleep. In addition, Paracas is the first destination you travel to, so it can take some getting used to for many travelers, making traveling tight on time is anything but pleasant. With option 1 you can travel comfortably from Lima to Paracas because you will only visit both places the next morning.

If you want to do both tours on the same day when you depart from Lima, you need to depart from Lima at 06:00 (we don’t recommend doing this!).

Option 2: this option is only possible if you speak Spanish and feel comfortable going unprepared to ask in the street a local to show you Paracas National Park.

In case you want to book the tours independently, you can use the prices below as a guideline:

Ballestas islands island

#3 Eat the best ceviche

If you did the Ballestas tour you are probably hungry. A tip is to walk along the harbor and eat at one of the eateries. We recommend looking where others (locals) are. We tried ceviche for the first time here and till this day it is the best ceviche we have ever eaten. If you don’t like ceviche, you can also try other dishes. The big advantage is that the fish is caught daily, so you have delicious fresh dishes.

Paracas chevice

How many days do you need for Paracas?

Paracas is a small village where you can visit two awesome natural parks. You can divide this over two days or do it in one day. We recommend staying 2 days (1 night) in Paracas.

You can use the first day to travel from Lima to Paracas and discover the village at your leisure. You can then visit Paracas National Park independently upon arrival. On the second day, you can visit the Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Park. In the afternoon you return from the tour and after you have packed your bag you can travel to the next destination, for example, Huacachina.

If you do not want to travel immediately after the tour, you can of course stay 2 nights in Paracas and continue your journey the following morning.

Where to stay in Paracas?

When you are going to choose the accommodation in Paracas, it is advisable to choose an accommodation that does not have a lot of luxury. During your stay in Paracas, you are on the road a lot through the tours and you only use the accommodation to sleep and nothing more. We, therefore, recommend that you do not spend too much money on a place to sleep. The two accommodations below meet these requirements. You can book your favorite accommodation via the link below.

Excellent price quality ratio
Paracas Backpackers House

paracas 1

We stayed at Paracas Backpackers House and are very satisfied with it. The rooms are very neat, the people are very kind and they have a nice general area to meet other travelers. Recommended place to stay!

A little bit of luxury for a sharp price
Kokopelli Hostel Paracas

paracas v3

Another great recommendation is Kokopelli Hostel Paracas. They have a nice pool and a general area where you can relax. Everything is very neat and well organized. This place is very popular so they get booked up quickly.

Where to eat in Paracas?

As you could have read at the beginning of this article, we recommend trying ceviche at the port of Paracas in activity number 3. In addition to this tip, we recommend two restaurants below to eat in Paracas.

Pukasoncco is a nice place to eat Peruvian food. The nice thing about this place is that when you enter it it doesn’t feel touristy. The service is loving and friendly. The food is delicious. Of course, when you are in Paracas eating fish is a must. We ordered the fried sole which we recommended trying yourself. A nice place to eat in the evening. It will cost +/- 60 soles ($16) per person.

Karamba Resto-Bar is located on the harbor so you can enjoy the boats passing by while you eat. When you come in the evening you can enjoy a sunset while you eat. If you are vegetarian this is a good place as they have plenty of offer. We chose the octopus napoleon, which is an octopus with seafood. Special dish to try but above all tasty. Another recommendation is linguine con mariscos, which is spaghetti with seafood. This is an awesome place to have lunch or dinner. Eating costs about 50 soles ($13.40) per person.

How do you get to Paracas?

Paracas is easy to reach, as it has a bus station. Paracas is easily accessible via Lima, Ica, Huacachina, and Arequipa. It is not possible to fly directly to Paracas, for this it is best to fly to Lima and travel from Lima to Paracas. Your journey will probably start at Lima and travel from the capital to Paracas.

Traveling from Lima to Paracas: The easiest way is to travel by bus from Lima to Paracas. In Lima, you can take the bus to Paracas at the bus station of Cruz del Sur. Tickets can be purchased on-site or online in advance via this link. The advantage of buying your tickets in advance is that you are assured of a seat. The travel time from Lima to Paracas is approximately 4 hours and costs an average of 60 soles ($16) per person.

If you are in Ica, Arequipa, Huacachina or other destinations, traveling by bus is the same in terms of way. You go to the bus station and buy your ticket there on the spot or in advance. We always used the bus company, Cruz del Sur, the buses are very good!

If you are going to make a car tour through Peru, you can easily reach Paracas. The roads in Peru are excellent, so you only have to enter your destination in the navigation and it speaks for itself. If you travel from Lima (250km / 4 hours), Ica/Huacachina (70km / 1 hour), or Arequipa (780km / 13.5 hours) you will be in Paracas in the stated hours.

If you travel to Peru by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.

What is the best time to travel to Paracas?

Peru has several climate zones, Paracas has a maritime climate. There is little rainfall in this area, so you can visit Paracas all year round.

The best time to travel to Paracas is during the Peruvian summer (December to March) when temperatures average between 25°C and 29°C.

In the other periods, the temperature is between 21°C, so it is still pleasant to travel here. Paracas does not have a bad period.

Tip: Keep in mind that the US and Europe school holidays in July and August are busier than usual, driving prices up. Tours are also fully booked earlier during these periods, so it is wise to book your tour in advance.

Paracas what to do FAQ

1. Is Paracas is worth visiting?

The answer is very simple: yes, sure! You only have to stay 1 night in Paracas and this allows you to see special places. The best thing about Paracas is that it is not much visited by other travelers because they often skip this place. Paracas is also so different from the other destinations in Peru that it is very nice for a change. In addition, you can see one of the most beautiful marine ecosystems in the world here. We recommend traveling to Paracas.

Want to see more of Peru?

We hope that our article has helped you to give you a clear understanding of what you can do in Paracas, where you can stay and eat. Of course from Paracas, you can discover other great destinations in Peru.

If you follow our itinerary through Peru, your next destination is Huacachina. Huacachina is a unique destination because you will find a large desert landscape here. In Huacachina you can go sandboarding, one of the best surprising things you will do during your trip to Peru.

If you do not follow our itinerary, you can also travel to Lima, Ica, or Arequipa in addition to Huacachina. We have visited Lima and Arequipa. Lima is the capital of Peru where you can visit the best museums in Peru. Arequipa is one of the colonial cities where you can see beautiful historic buildings.

What do you think of Paracas? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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