Everyone heading between Buenaventura and Ladrilleros has to pass through Juanchaco. The long pier is where all of the boats to and from Buenaventura dock, and it’ll be the first thing you see as you arrive in the town.
On either side of the pier is the town’s beach. It’s not clean. I recommend going to the beach at Ladrilleros or further away if you want a better beach experience.
There’s one main road through town. It’s not paved and can get very messy after one of the frequent rains that pass through the area.
What’s interesting about the town is the way the people live. All of the buildings are simple colorful structures made of wood or concrete with corrugated metal roofs. Many are elevated on stilts to avoid flooding when the tides bring the ocean a little too far inland.
Among the buildings are shops, restaurants, services, and more. The people are very friendly and approachable. If you have a chance, try some of the unique street food.
From the photos, the town looks run-down and poverty stricken, but when you’re there in person you don’t sense that poverty is an issue. We felt that the people enjoy the simple life. The locals always seemed to be well-dressed and spoke very politely and formally. They were almost always smiling and it was easy to see that they genuinely cared about the outsiders visiting their town. It’s a far cry from a place with extreme poverty and social problems like La Guajira.
What To Do
There’s not much reason to stick around too long in Juanchaco, but it’s a good place to shop around for whale watching tours. Booking through your hotel will almost always cost more than directly with the guides.