There are plenty of things to do to in Huacachina to easily stay occupied for a couple days. Relax pool side with a drink, go on a wine tour, dune buggy tour, or try sand boarding the dunes.
You can even stop by the Nazca Lines which are less than 2 hours away. We actually ended up seeing the Nazca Lines on the way to Huacachina, which was included in our PeruHop pass. During our day in Huacachina, we also did a free wine tour which was another cool thing to do offered by PeruHop.
Huacahina is a small oasis (quite literally) located just outside the much larger city of Ica. It's definitely a tourist destination as most of the people working there speak english. There are quite a lot of Europeans, Australians, and Americans crawling through the small town.
We recommend staying at least two nights in this place, but not much more. After talking with a bar tender at one of the hostels, he said he was going a bit stir crazy after being there for a few weeks. This seemed understandable since the town is literally only a few blocks long.
One of the most popular things to do in Huacachina is to take a dune buggy tour or go sand boarding. Day Tours (lasting 2 hours) start around $15 USD if you book online through FindLocalTrips. Although we didn't do any of these, we've heard it's a pretty cool experience. However, we would recommend waiting until you arrive in Huacachina to book any tours for a few reasons.
From our experience, tours online in are usually set at a higher price so if you pay in cash, you can negotiate and will get a better deal. Don't worry, there's no shortage of tours because everyone and their mother will try to sell you one.
After deciding to skip the dune buggy tours and sand board rentals, we took ourselves hiking in the dunes. Besides being free of cost, we could also dictate our own schedule doing this. We met some friends who went sand boarding and they made it back just minutes before our bus left for the next city. In my opinion, hiking the dunes turned out to be the coolest thing to do in Huacachina. But, if we had another day to spend there maybe would pay the extra $15 - $25 USD to ride the dunes.
As we anticipated, the dunes were a lot larger than what met the eye standing at the bottom. It was also extremely windy at the top. We were so out of breath by the time we got up there, but damn was it worth it. Putting one foot on each side of the dunes was surreal, and even game me some vertigo. But the panoramic views from all around were incredible.
Note: Dune buggies can't actually reach the top of the highest dunes due to the possibility of flipping over. So, that leaves hiking up there your only option.
**Pro Tip** - wear long pants, even if it is really hot, because we mistakenly wore shorts and got bitten by sand fleas. The bites leave behind red blotchy patches and are itchy. We read that they can lay eggs under your skin which we imagine would be pretty uncomfortable. Luckily we didn't experience that and ours were just a bit itchy for a few days. Cortizone cream helps a lot.
Peru is known for its grape production, which means they make quite a bit of wine. However they use the grapes to make Pisco, a traditional Peruvian liquor derived from distilling grapes. We went on a free tour of El Catador distillery included in our bus ticket through PeruHop. It includes an hour long tour of the facility and a round of wine and Pisco tasting at the end. It was definitely a fun way to spend the morning.
If you want to learn a little more about how to make the classic Peruvian drink, Pisco Sour, check out the free class we took in Arequipa!
If you're exhausted by all the things to do in Huacachina, take some time to hang by the pool. Most of the hostels have a pool; the one shown below is Banana's Adventure. We got lunch there with a couple new friends we met. It seemed like a pretty cool hang out spot, but the food and drink was just a little overpriced in our opinion. The hostel we stayed at, El Boulevard, also has a pool but it's not as nice as Banana's.
If you've never seen a desert sunset then you're in for a treat. Fortunately, we made it to Huacachina just in time for sunset, which was an amazing view welcoming us to this small little oasis. If we stayed another night we would have definitely stayed up on top of the dunes to watch the sunset. This is another reason why we recommend staying a second night.
Just under two hours from Huacachina are the Nazca lines. We made a stop there which was free with our PeruHop pass. These lines in the desert were created somewhere between 500 BCE and 500 CE. They are hieroglyphics drawn by ancient Nazca people that are 4-6 inches deep with some spanning nearly 3/4 mile wide. The actual purpose of the lines is still not completely understood. If you don't mind the price, the best way to see them is from an airplane. We made a stop at a tower that was roughly 3 stories tall and saw two of the lines.
To be honest, they aren't that much of a sight to see, at least from the ones we saw. I don't think I would spend a lot of money to pay for a plane tour over the lines. The locals running the stand were charging 3 Soles (roughly $1 USD) to climb the tower. Fortunately, we were able to go free of charge since it was included in our bus ticket. We spent about 15-20 minutes at this stop and then made our way onto Huacachina.
From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.
Bungalows: $9.06+ USD
Private Rooms: $34.35+ USD
Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, 24 Hr Security/Reception, Bar, Restaurant
If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Huacachina, there are plenty of options available. We ended up staying at El Boulevard, which was okay. The breakfast ended up being pretty filling and the room was decent enough. The cheap price and free breakfast was what drew us to El Boulevard.
Nonetheless, we would check out a different hostel if we were to go back. If you're looking for a party hostel in Huacachina, then the Wild Rover is for you. It has pretty cheap rooms, plus a reasonably priced bar/restaurant with a pool downstairs.
Dorms: $7.55+ USD
Private Rooms: $33.23+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Pool, Bar/Restaurant, 24 Hr Security/Reception, Luggage Storage
Dorms: $7.55+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Self Catering Services, Bar, Restaurant, Outdoor Terrace, Tours/Travel Desk, Luggage Storage, 24 Hr Security
Dorms: $21.33+ USD
Private Rooms: $49.76+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Pool, Bar/Restaurant, Tours/Travel Desk, Luggage Storage