It doesn't take long to figure out that the Playa El Varadero is where most of the action happens in Huanchaco. Tourists and locals alike converge on the sidewalk bordering the beach, beating a path from one end to the other and back. Weekends are especially chaotic when bus loads of tourists empty onto the beach, which is little more than a sliver between high tide and the tall sea wall.
It's here where wannabe surfers make their first forays into the breaking waves, but you'll have to be brave to endure the chilly water without a wet suit. If sunbathing, rather than surfing and swimming, is more your speed, you may want to head about 100 meters (328 ft) south, just beyond the pier where it's a bit less crowded. (Please remember: Be sure to keep an eye on your stuff while you swim. A number of clever robberies have recently occurred on Huanchaco's beaches, and in most cases, it was the theft of a bag sitting right beside its owner.)
Playa El Varadero is also the place to catch a ride on Huanchaco's infamous caballitos, or reed boats. The boats line the sea wall and their owners are always willing to paddle tourists around for a small fee. Surprisingly, one of the most popular things to do at Varadero is simply take a seat on the sea wall and hang out. From there, you can watch the action on the beach, sort through the goods of passing street vendors, enjoy an ice cream, and if you're lucky, eavesdrop on an impromptu concert from local beach bums just enjoying the sun. And on the subject of sun, don't forget the sunscreen.