It is located 14 Km. northwest from Trujillo City. This ancient fishing village has preserved the ancestral use of the “small horse reed boats” that were used by the Moche and the Chimu civilizations. These fishing boats were so important, they were represented on the ceramic and the walls of Chan Chan.
Huanchaco was a fishing village before the arrival of the Spaniards. During the government of the viceroy Toledo (1560-1570) the population from Mansiche moved to this town.
The name of Huanchaco is used since the XVIII century. Several versions exist about the origin of the name. It is probable that the actual name comes from “huaycocha” or “wuacocha”, which would have meant “fish lagoon”, because of the semicircle form of the beach.
According to another version, in the past when fishermen entered the sea to fish, they painted their chest in red, imitating the color of a bird called “Huanchaco”, thus being known as “huanchaqueros” and the place where they lived Huaycocha. Finally, to the cultivation of totora reed, huachaques have existed since Moche times, this word in Muchic language means “sunken field” , they were wells with underground filtrations. So,it is possible because of the phonetic likeness that Huanchaco derives its name from this word.
During the colonial times, Huanchaco was a port that lost its importance toward 1870, when Salaverry port was founded. Then, in 1891, a 108 meters wharf was built. It is conserved until now.
From the beach, at the top of a hill, it is possible to see the church of the virgin of the Candle or Candelaria built in the site of a Chimu Temple. Inside it is the image of the virgin of the Candle, given by the king Charles The Fith; the sculpture was made in Seville, taking like a model the face of the king's mother, “Juana the crazy woman”. It arrived to Huanchaco on February 2, 1537,it is considered as the first and oldest image from Latin America. Every five years, from 1861 it is carried to Trujillo, San José's chapel located in Chan Chan was built as a resting place for this journey.
Nowadays, Huanchaco is the most frequented beach in Trujillo. It is also a magnificent place for surfing. For the lovers of the seafood it is an ideal place, because the restaurants in front of the sea offer the most exquisite plates and flavors, prepared with selected fish and seafood. The sober hotels harbor those who want to enjoy one night with the sound and breeze of the sea. They are countless reasons and few pretexts for not visiting Huanchaco, at least once in a lifetime.