Ballestas Islands

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Ballestas Islands: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Lima: Full-Day Paracas and Huacachina Bus Tour

1. From Lima: Full-Day Paracas and Huacachina Bus Tour

Your adventure begins with an early-morning pickup from your hostel or hotel. From here, travel to Paracas, a beautiful small town by the sea, on a spacious bus where you'll be able to relax for the 4-hour ride. Once in Paracas, begin a 2-hour boat tour of the Ballestas Islands, a smaller version of the Galapagos. Spot sea lions, penguins, and plenty of birds up close and all in their natural habitats. You may even get the chance to see a dolphin or two. Around lunchtime, it's time to move on from Paracas to Huacachina, a natural oasis located in the Ica Desert, home to the biggest sand dunes in South America. Enjoy some free time here. Explore and have lunch at one of the local restaurants around the oasis. Following lunch, it will be time for 2 hours of exhilarating dune buggy rides and sandboarding. Dune buggy up the sand dunes and sandboard down these giant hills of sands, a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the only natural desert oasis in South America. In the evening, board your bus back to Lima. Once onboard, sit back and relax on the comfortable seats while you enjoy a movie on board. You will later be dropped off directly at your hotel/hostel upon arrival in Lima.

From Paracas: Scenic Boat Tour to Ballestas Island

2. From Paracas: Scenic Boat Tour to Ballestas Island

After a convenient hotel pickup from either Paracas or Pisco, head to the Marina Turistica to start your islands adventure. Board a speedboat with your bilingual, Spanish and English-speaking guide, and jet out onto the sea towards the stunning Ballestas. Along the way, stop at the Paracas Peninsula to see the Candelabro, an enigmatic glyph carved into the side of the island — whose purpose, and creator, remain a mystery to this day. Afterwards, continue onwards towards the marine sanctuary of Ballestas. Gaze upon the rocky shores, filled to the brim with sunbathing seals and penguins diving into the turbid waters to hunt underneath the surface — all alongside other beautiful specimens, like majestic pelicans, and colorful blue-footed boobies. A protected habitat for the wide swathe of birds and sea-life that call these islands home, Ballestas is truly one of Peru’s natural treasures — and a speedboat tour around their shores is the best way to see the islands, and all they have to offer, up close.

From Paracas: Ballestas Islands & Paracas National Reserve

3. From Paracas: Ballestas Islands & Paracas National Reserve

After a convenient hotel pickup from either Paracas or Pisco, head to the Marina Turistica to start your adventure. Board a speedboat with your bilingual, Spanish and English-speaking guide, and jet out onto the sea towards the stunning Ballestas. Along the way, stop at the Paracas Peninsula to see the Candelabro, an enigmatic glyph carved into the side of the island — whose purpose, and creator, remain a mystery to this day. Afterwards, continue onwards towards the marine sanctuary of Ballestas. Gaze upon the rocky shores, filled to the brim with sunbathing seals, and penguins diving into the turbid waters to hunt underneath the surface — all alongside other beautiful specimens, like majestic pelicans, and colorful blue-footed boobies. You’ll then return to the Marina Turistica for a drive to Paracas National Reserve. An almost alien landscape, the Paracas National Reserve is composed of vast, sprawling deserts and high sandstone cliffs directly next to the bright, blue ocean. Driving through the reserve, see the Cathedral, an area where a vast rock formation once stood before being destroyed by a cataclysmic earthquake. Your tour caps things off with visits to Playa Roja and Lagunillas Beach, two stunning maroon-sand beaches that are truly one-of-a-kind. Having seen some of the world's most unique natural features, flora, and fauna, you'll hop back in the car for a convenient transfer back to your hotel.

Paracas: Ballestas Islands Morning Boat Tour

4. Paracas: Ballestas Islands Morning Boat Tour

Your Paracas coastline adventure departs from the marina in the morning and then heads out onto the open blue waters of the ocean. The first stop of the tour is the famous El Candelabro, also known as the ‘Candelabra of the Andes’, a prehistoric geoglyph on the northern face of the Paracas Peninsula at Pisco Bay. Admire the imposing figure set into the landscape and learn more about the history of the geoglyph from your tour guide. The boat sails onto the Ballestas Islands next, a collection of biodiverse islets that are home to an array of protected and endangered animals and birds. From the boat, admire these beautiful islands and learn about the many marine species it houses, including the curious Humboldt penguins, the playful sea lions, and the exuberant colorful birds. Visitors to the islands are not permitted onto the land because it is a protected natural area, however there is plenty of time to see all that the islands have to offer from the comfort of the boat.

From Huacachina: Ballestas Island and Paracas Reserve Tour

5. From Huacachina: Ballestas Island and Paracas Reserve Tour

Pick up from your hotel within Ica/Huacachina between (7:00 am - 7:15 am), to drive towards the Marina Turistica to begin your adventure. Board a speedboat with your guide, and jet out onto the sea towards the stunning Ballestas. Stop at the Paracas Peninsula to see the Candelabro, an enigmatic glyph carved into the side of the island, whose purpose, and creator, remain a mystery to this day. Continue onwards towards the marine sanctuary of Ballestas. Gaze upon the rocky shores filled to the brim with sunbathing seals, and penguins diving into the turbid waters to hunt underneath the surface. See other beautiful specimens, like majestic pelicans, and colorful blue-footed boobies. Return to the Marina Turistica for a drive to Paracas National Reserve. Discover the almost alien landscape of the Paracas National Reserve, with vast sprawling deserts and high sandstone cliffs. Driving through the reserve, see the Cathedral, an area where a vast rock formation once stood before being destroyed by a cataclysmic earthquake. Visit the stunning maroon-sand beaches of Playa Roja and Lagunillas Beach. Having seen some of the world's most unique natural features, flora, and fauna, At the end of the tour will drive back to your hotel in Ica/Huacachina at 16:30 or drop off in Paracas at 15:00 pm (Hotel or bus station).

Lima: 2-Day Tour to Paracas, Pisco Vineyards, and Huacachina

6. Lima: 2-Day Tour to Paracas, Pisco Vineyards, and Huacachina

Day 1: Lima - Ballestas Islands - Huacachina Start with early pickup from your hotel in Lima or meeting point. Travel to Paracas, beautiful small town by the sea, on a 4-hour journey. Upon arrival in Paracas, begin a 2-hour boat tour of the Ballestas Islands. These islands are said to be a smaller version of the Galápagos. See sea lions, penguins, birds, and even dolphins up close in their natural habitats. After the boat tour, head to Huacachina, the only desert oasis in South America. Spend 2 hours getting your thrills with dune buggying and sandboarding on some of the highest sand dunes. Then, transfer to your accommodation in Huacachina. Use your free time to grab some food or maybe a beer. Relax after an adrenaline-filled evening and rest up for the next day. Day 2: Huacachina - Lima Leave Huacachina and head off to a 2-hour pisco vineyard tour. See how pisco, Peru's national drink, is made from the grape to the bottle and try lots of free samples. Spend the whole day enjoying Huacachina. Catch some sun by the pool or grab some lunch around the oasis for the perfect end to this trip. Travel by air-conditioned bus back to Lima, and get dropped off either at your hotel or the original meeting point.

From Lima: Ballestas Islands, Huacachina Oasis & Winery Tour

7. From Lima: Ballestas Islands, Huacachina Oasis & Winery Tour

Start your adventure by departing Lima in the early morning. Travel for around 300 km on the Pan-American highway until you reach Paracas Bay, a very important place for Peruvian history which is full of wildlife.  Enjoy a boat tour to the Ballestas Islands and watch out for birds, sea lions, dolphins, and penguins. Then drive to drive to a small local winery to learn how Pisco is made and to enjoy a tasting. Stop at the Huacachina Oasis, and take some time to eat lunch and walk around. Test your skills at sandboarding for an additional cost or just enjoy free time at the pool drinking Pisco Sours. At the end of the adventure, head back to Lima via the same route.

From Lima: Ballestas Islands, Huacachina and Nazca Line Tour

8. From Lima: Ballestas Islands, Huacachina and Nazca Line Tour

Discover the best of the culture, nature, and wildlife of the Ica region on this all-encompassing tour. Start your tour at 4:30 AM with a freshly prepared, delicious breakfast box, on your journey from your hotel in Lima to the Ballestas Islands, where your guided tour begins. See the "chandelier", a geoglyph used as a reference point for travelers and sailors. Observe beautiful native species such as sea lion colonies and Humboldt penguins, as well as several guano birds. Learn about the importance of these islands to the Peruvian coast and observe other species such as cormorants, pelicans, seagulls, and many other unique species. Next, head to the airport for a flight over the Nazca Lines. After watching an informative video about the lines and their mysteries, board a Cessna plane and enjoy a 1.25-hour flight over the area. Your pilot will show you the location of these mysterious geoglyphs and tell you what they represent. After your flight, visit an artisanal winery and learn all about the production process of some of the best wines and piscos of the region. Enjoy samples of wines, piscos, and local liquors. Sit down to a delicious lunch at the winery before heading to your final stop of the day, the Oasis of Huacachina. Practice sandboarding on this unique oasis' sand dunes and get your adrenaline pumping with a V8 buggy ride through the dunes. Get dropped off back at your hotel in Lima at 9 PM.

From Lima: Ballestas, Nazca Lines, & Huacachina Oasis

9. From Lima: Ballestas, Nazca Lines, & Huacachina Oasis

Start your adventure by departing Lima in the early morning. Travel for around 300 km on the Pan-American highway until you reach Paracas Bay, a very important place for Peruvian history which is full of wildlife.  Enjoy a boat tour to the Ballestas Islands and watch out for birds, sea lions, dolphins, and penguins. Then head to Pisco Airport and take a 45-minute flight over the Palpa desert to see the Nazca Lines. Stop at the Huacachina Oasis, and take some time to eat lunch and walk around. Test your skills at sandboarding for an additional cost or just enjoy free time at the pool drinking Pisco Sours. At the end of the adventure, head back to Lima via the same route.

Ica: Ballestas Island & Paracas Reserve Private Tour

10. Ica: Ballestas Island & Paracas Reserve Private Tour

After a convenient hotel pickup, head to the Marina Turistica to begin your adventure. Board a speedboat with your guide, and jet out onto the sea towards the stunning Ballestas. Stop at the Paracas Peninsula to see the Candelabro, an enigmatic glyph carved into the side of the island, whose purpose, and creator, remain a mystery to this day. Continue onwards towards the marine sanctuary of Ballestas. Gaze upon the rocky shores filled to the brim with sunbathing seals, and penguins diving into the turbid waters to hunt underneath the surface. See other beautiful specimens, like majestic pelicans, and colorful blue-footed boobies. Return to the Marina Turistica for a drive to Paracas National Reserve. Discover the almost alien landscape of the Paracas National Reserve, with vast sprawling deserts and high sandstone cliffs. Driving through the reserve, see the Cathedral, an area where a vast rock formation once stood before being destroyed by a cataclysmic earthquake. Visit the stunning maroon-sand beaches of Playa Roja and Lagunillas Beach. Having seen some of the world's most unique natural features, flora, and fauna, hop back in the car for a convenient transfer back to your hotel in Ica or drop-off in Paracas (Hotel or bus station).

Other Sightseeing Options in Ballestas Islands

Want to discover all there is to do in Ballestas Islands? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Ballestas Islands

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 385 reviews

We had an amazing time with our tour guide Aymen. I am still buzzing over the great time we had today. at Ballestas we saw a whole bunch of different birds, little penguins, sea lions and even dolphins (apparently very rare). I am still buzzing over seeing the Nazca lines as it was on my to-do list for so long. Finally we went to the Huacachina Oasis where I would recommend getting the upgrade for the sand buggy and sand boarding as it capped off the great day and let us get some sandy pictures of us. Please note that they don't let you drive the buggy, but depending on your comfort level the park driver will make it feel like a roller coaster going over the dunes.

Our guide was wonderful. She was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge pertaining to our tour in particular and Peru and it’s culture and history generally. She was personable, and a delight to spend time with. She kept the tour lively and interesting at all times, and kept things flowing smoothly from start to finish. Just as importantly, she sensed when to step back and let us enjoy what we were seeing while being discreetly available when we were ready to reengage or move on or needed something. She was a superstar conversationalist and a perfect host.

Honestly one of the best tours I’ve done. It was a bit disorganized at times, our guide said we would leave at one time and we would end up leaving 10-20 mins later. But over it was really great. A lot of fun!

A must do despite the journey to and from. The various birds including penguins, sea lions and even orange crabs in their natural habitat was breathtaking.

Excellent! The tour was amazing and Joel was very helpful. Recommended!