Located 14 km from Downtown Lima, Callao, Peru’s main port, features venerable wooden colonial mansions lined with long and elaborate carved balconies several of which overlook Callao’s main squares, Plaza Galvez and Plaza Grau, and Callao’s Iglesia Matriz (Main Church).
Among Callao’s relics is the Real Felipe fortress, at the end of Saenz Peña Avenue, a vast structure dating back to 1747, built to defend the port from pirates like Drake.
Chucuito, a small fisher cove, is lined with Gothic and neo-Renaissance houses, as well as typical wooden homes painted in bright colors.
And there is La Punta, ideal for walking and taking in the tangy sea breeze. This old district, once the home of Lima’s aristocracy, features a superb oceanside promenade, pebble beaches, and stately homes dating back to the early days of the Republic at the start of the nineteenth century.
Out to sea lie the islands of El Camotal, San Lorenzo, El Fronton, Cavinzas and Palomino, which can be visited by taking one of the tours arranged by the Callao Town Hall. Tours set out from Plaza Grau square:
Visitors are taken by boat first to El Camotal, rich in scallops, which is said to have been attached to Callao until the 1746 earthquake.
The boat then skirts around San Lorenzo, Peru’s largest island, where religious ceremonies were performed in pre-Hispanic times. The island was later studied by Charles Darwin. To the north one can spot El Cabezo, an ideal beach for fishing.
Next, visitors are taken to El Fronton, an island where up until two decades ago both political prisoners and dangerous criminals were housed.
The tour continues to the Cavinzas Isles, a haven for sea birds, some of them migratory. The Cavinzas Isles together with the Palomino Isles form a set of islands which are a refuge for species such as sea lions.