Paracas is home to an astounding variety of sights, activities and attractions. You’ll soon see why this modest little beach town is so popular with tourists and locals alike. There’s something here for just about everyone, from unique natural wonders to hair-raising adventure sports and everything in between. Keep reading below to learn more about our favorite things to do in Paracas and the surrounding area.
Located about 10km off the coast of Paracas, the Ballestas Islands are a group of small rock formations which act as a sanctuary for large populations of native birds and marine animals. The wildlife on the Ballestas Islands is so abundant and diverse that they are often referred to as the “Peruvian Galápagos.” These islands have also played an important role in history: during the 19th century a huge, booming industry arose around the extraction of guano (bird poop–yes, seriously–it’s used as a fertilizer) from the Ballestas and other nearby islands.
Nowadays, the Ballestas Islands enjoy protected status in order to preserve the ecosystem of the extraordinary but fragile populations of birds and mammals that call the islands home. There are no permanent human residents, but frequent boat tours pass by, giving visitors a chance to view the wildlife and incredible natural beauty. Here are just some of the creatures that you can see on a trip to the Ballestas Islands: Humboldt penguins, sea wolves, humpback whales, guanay, marine otters, pelicans, and Peruvian boobies. The Ballestas Islands are a definite must-see stop for all nature lovers!
The oldest marine reserve in Peru, the Paracas National Reserve spans 335,000 hectares (3,350 km²) and encompasses the entirety of the Paracas Peninsula and its surrounding waters. Featuring a surreal, moonlike landscape which abruptly gives way to secluded coastal beaches, the Paracas National Reserve is a place of sublime natural beauty.
The unique subtropical coastal desert ecosystem of the reserve is home to many species of wildlife, including some of the largest populations of migratory birds on the planet. The reserve was also the location of multiple important archaeological discoveries dating to the Paracas civilization and other prehistoric societies. Many of these ancient treasures can be seen at the Julio C. Tello Museum located at the entrance to the reserve. Don't miss it!
Want to see the Paracas National Reserve and have a whole lot of fun doing it? Why not visit on a 4-wheeled all-terrain vehicle? ATVs are not only fun, they're also a great way to conquer the rugged terrain of the desert. Book a tour and you'll go as a group with an experienced guide leading the way, helping to ensure your safety and show you all the most photogenic spots on the reserve.
Paracas is the perfect place to experience the adrenaline rush of kitesurfing. This growing adventure sport combines elements of surfing and sailing into one thrilling activity, as you harness the power of the wind to propel your surfboard across the waves using a giant parachute. It's easy to learn how to kitesurf in Paracas, with several different safe, licensed and reputable schools to show you the ropes.
The most awe-inspiring way to see the Paracas National Reserve is from the condor's point of view, soaring high above the scenic coastal cliffs and desert sands of the Paracas Peninsula below. The region around Paracas provides ideal conditions for paragliding, a type of recreational flying in which wind is used to sustain a parachute-like. Don't worry, no experience is necessary. All flights are done in tandem with an experienced pilot, so you can spend the time concentrating on the gorgeous view.
A catamaran is a type of special sailboat consisting of two parallel hulls balanced by a wide beam. It's easy to charter a day trip on a local catamaran with most local agencies in Paracas. If you love getting out on the water and really enjoying the ocean air, this activity is perfect for you. Some days are relaxed and tranquil while other days are windy and you can achieve some thrilling speeds. In either case, a day out on a catamaran is an amazing way to experience the Paracas Bay.
One of the best ways to see the Paracas National Reserve and other nearby sights is to cruise around those dusty desert roads on mountain bikes. You'll have no problem finding bicycles for rent from just about any tourist agency in town. Make sure you leave early though, as the Paracas National Reserve is deceptively large and it's hard to see everything on bike.