Camana is a popular tourist destination, but not for most international backpackers. During the summer months of December through March Peruvians flock to this bustling south coast town, flooding downtown hotels and hostels, filling the beachfront accommodations and saturating the beachfront. During the fall and winter months however, while the city center stays crowded with locals, the beach becomes practically deserted, and the temperate- not overwhelmingly hot months directly after tourist season ends, may actually be the best time visit.
As the beach clears of visitors from the highlands and the north, many of the beachfront hospedajes close for the season, but if you’re going during those off months, don’t despair, or worry about finding a place to stay. While some of the larger, and more luxurious spots, close down as early as mid-march, a number of good options with private rooms and bathrooms, and varying qualities of amenities, stay open year round. The hostels on the beachfront will often appear shuttered as well, but many, especially those with restaurants attached, will open up a room if stray guests appear at any time of the year. And best of all, the great restaurants, offering standard Peruvian fare such as Lomo Saltado and Estafados, as well as some of the best ceviche outside of Lima, stay open all year around.
Visitors arriving to the beach front during the winter months will find the incredibly popular summer hotel and disoteca, The Titanic Club, closed for the off-season, but a few other nice options exist. Hostal Patty, three sandy blocks from the water, is the cheapest option for private rooms, with habitcaiones sipmles con banos campartidos starting at just S/. 20 per night, the price increasing to S/. 35 for a private bathroom and television (the remote system works by shouting down the hall to ask them to change the channel) in the room. Down the road, on the downtown-side of La Punta, is hotel Sulumar, also open year around, with televisions without signal, and cold water showers. At S/. 50 a night, it’s probably not the way to go unless you want to be a block closer to the beach and restuarants.
For a truly cheap options, just walk up and down the waterfront and stop into restaurants with ‘hostal’ or ‘hospedaje’ signs out front. Generally these very basic rooms, often actually located behind the restaurants and across the street, go for S/. 20-25 during tourist season and S/. 15 during the offseason, but be warned, the rooms may be private, with shared bathroom of course, but they can be very basic, with exposed stone walls with zinc roofs that are less than water tight, potentially problematic during the colder winter season. Ask to see the rooms before you commit to your stay, and remember there are nicer, and still cheap options, just another few steps down the beach.
Getting there from Pariwana Hostels in Cusco or in Lima
From Pariwana Lima look for a bus to Arequipa; Flores, Suyoz, Viva, and Cial are all good bets. Ask if the bus stops in Camana anyway, it’s on route to Arequipa, and if so, book your ticket for Camana and you’ll save a few dollars. If you can’t find a bus that has cheaper tickets to Camana, get one to Arequipa and ask the driver or attendant to drop you in Camana, Route 1 South cuts right through the city and it shouldn’t be a problem, though it may be easier if you don’t have any bags under the bus. Expect to pay S/. 100 or more for semi-cama and S/.150-200 for full-cama, and keep in mind the bus ride is about 15 hours, an overnight bus that you can actually get some sleep on could save you a night of lodgings money, and leave you a lot happier when you get off the bus.
From Cusco there are no direct buses, but a bus to Arequipa will put you the terminal terreste there, and a number of buses leave every two hours on weekdays, generally from 7am to 7pm. Expect to pay S/. 100 for Cusco to Arequipa, about a ten hour ride, and S/.15-20 for the three hour ride to Camana.
The buses all let out in downtown Camana, and a taxi ride to the beachfront, known locally as La Punta, costs S/. 8-10, but the collectivos, which generally have ample space for backpacks cost S/. 1.50. The ride takes about ten minutes and the car will drop you wherever along the beach you request. Then walk along the Pacific Ocean, look for a good place to stay, and wonder why more backpackers haven’t yet discovered Camana.