Off the Beaten Path in Puerto Inca, Peru

Puerto Inca Puerto Inka Off the beaten path peru chala beach

There’re certain rewards for the intrepid traveler who ventures down paths not regularly featured by professional tour companies—like coming home with some badass pics and experiences that’ll make for some good round-the-dinner-table fodder. One such place is Puerto Inca—a quiet, beachside ruin of the principal port of the Inca empire. It’s located along the Peruvian coast about three hours south of the Nazca Lines on the way to Arequipa/Puno/ Bolivia which sounds kinda far, but by Peruvian standards, that’s like sharing backyards.

After spending a year traveling the entire country, this place stood out for its ability to be rustic, understated and, ok, completely magical. Basically, a cool spot to spend a day and night with your girl and to take a break from the gringo trail (that route most tourists tend to stick to when traveling around South America)—without really having to leave it.

To be sure, the ruins here aren’t Machu Picchu. And unless you’ve got a big thing for Inca history, they’re really just a nice place to go watch watch the sun set. The real reasons to stop here lie on either side of the weathered Inca structure.

But first know, there’s civilization there. It happens to be located on a chill, inlet beach, replete with hammocks, beach volley ball, lounge chairs and the only other man-made thing at Puerto Inca that’s not a ruin—Hotel Puerto Inka and its restaurant/bar, which cooks up a pretty tasty feast of Peruvian cuisine (think avocados the size of your face, ceviche, french fries and a dish called Lomo Saltado). And yes, it’s tourist friendly, meaning you can eat it (though, as always, be careful with raw fish). Here’s where you can while away from it all with your book, put down a few cold ones, catch some rays and swim or kayak in the ocean (the hotel rents kayaks and bodyboards). Or, maybe, take a dip in one of the pools. There’s not usually many people staying here, but the crowd ranges from locals taking a weekend trip to other adventure seekers from around the globe. Some nights they hold bonfires. Some nights dancing. Really, it depends on who’s breezing though there at the moment (mix of international travelers and Peruvian families on summer holiday.

Rooms are pretty quaint and come with bedding, towels and soap. That’s about it.  That said, Inka’s lack of unfettered amenities is wholly made up by their wifi, cold beer (Crusquena is the best) and the un-obfuscated sound of crashing waves carried into each room by the cool ocean breeze. In other words—you’re roughing it…but not really.

The real reason to come here is to go beyond the ruins. Literally. A 10 minute walk above the structures, south along the coast, leads to the kind of breathtaking sight that’s easily worth the price of the bus ticket you took to get here and maybe even the plane ticket you bought to go to Peru in the first place. Actually, you could be on Mars, except with the Pacific coast line cutting a 100 foot cliff into the picture. Paths switchback through 1-4 story sized outcroppings of dusty red rocks and their valleys as far as the eye can see, giving hints to planet Earth only in the fact that crows like to hang here, spread their wings and sun. If you’re feeling brave, this can be completely done on your own, but also, you can rent horses (when available) and/or a guide back at the hotel. And if your’e feeling intrepid (I was) a climb down the precarious set rocks to the water will pay off in gratifyingly painterly ways.

It’s a hot place, no doubt, so pack some water before you walk past those ruins. But also, you can turn due west, walk less than 5 minutes towards the horizon and you’ll realize that you’re standing on a series of about 100 foot cliffs that peak into the solitude of a undulating coast line of ensconced coves, void of human life. Now, it becomes your planet. It’s possible, though dangerous alone, to climb down (carefully!) to the water,  and swim in natural pools of crystal clear water.

Time to go: Go during Peruvian summer—December – April or be kinda, sorta cold.


World’s Largest, Most Luxurious Aircraft Will Have Glass Floors and Posh Bedrooms

Every guestroom has a private bathroom and a view from 16,000 feet above Earth.

Art Museum or Ultra-Modern Home? This House is a Bit of Both.

Oak Pass is on a sprawling piece of land that is home to 130 Coast Live Oaks.

4 High-Tech Shark Repellents to Help You Avoid Your Own Personal ‘Jaws’ Moment

They might seem expensive, but can you really put a price tag on your legs?

Disaster Season Is Here: Keep You and Yours Safe With These Disaster Preparedness Tips

Don't pretend it can't happen to you. (But do hope it won't!)
Food & Drink

Big Easy Boozing: The Best Bars in New Orleans

Next time you're in New Orleans, skip Bourbon Street and drink like a local.

Where to Travel for World-Class Medical Care on a Budget

It’s no surprise that many Americans in need of medical treatment are willing to look elsewhere — anywhere — for affordable quality care.

This Hotel Won’t Let You Have Jet Lag

A combination of technology and luxurious amenities will help correct your wonky circadian rhythm after a long flight.

Why You Should Add Cincinnati to Your Food and Drink Destination List

Upon visiting the Queen City, we were greeted with a vibrant collection of good food, art, and boozing establishments.

3D Scanners Could (Finally) Expedite Airport Security by Ditching Liquid Restrictions

Let's bring back the good ol' days of free-wheelin' air travel.
Food & Drink

10 Best Restaurants in New Orleans, Both Old and New

The love for food and booze knows no bounds, which you’ll quickly come to realize after spending a few days in the Big Easy.

Deep-Fried Everything: 4 of the Most Gluttonous State Fairs in the U.S.

Because your cardiologist’s kids aren’t going to put themselves through college.

Road Trip on 2 Wheels Instead of 4 Along United States Bicycle Route 66

Cyclists on USBR 66 ride on two-lane rural roads that parallel or exactly follow the original Route 66 motorway.

Summer Ain’t Over! Head to One of the Most Underrated Beaches in the U.S.

Some of the world's best beaches are right here in the States — no passport required.

Mooching, Whales, and Catching Kings: What It’s Like to Go Salmon Fishing in Alaska

It's more peaceful (and a lot easier) than you can imagine.