The City of Callao (Spanish) is considered to be little more than a coastal suburb of Lima; however, it is a city in its own right with an honored history and a distinct character. Cruise vessels bound for Lima actually moor at the Port of Callao, and Lima has, of course, almost limitless attractions for tourists. The Port of Callao's major tourist attractions tend to be related to the sea and the coastline. Its beaches in La Punta are popular, and the Port of Callao is a favorite place to enjoy the local color and great seafood. Near the Port of Callao are several islands with both historic (sometimes infamous) and natural interest.
The climate in the Port of Callao is mild even though it is in the tropics and in desert. Being at the sea, it has a high level of humidity all year. Temperatures range from mild to warm, but they are never very hot or very cold. Winters are cloudy, with fog and mist, but there is little snow or rain. The Port of Callao can be affected by El Nino events that warm the waters and the ambient temperature. Despite high humidity, the Port of Callao gets little rain. From June through December, morning fogs hover. From May until November, there may be low-lying clouds. The summers, lasting from December to April, are warm and dry, and rain falls in isolated showers in the afternoon and evening. Temperatures range from an average high of 26 °C (79 °F) from January through March to an average low of 15 °C (59 °F) from July through September. What rain that does fall comes from June through October.
The Fortaleza (or Castillo) del Real Felipe was first built in 1747 to protect the city from frequent pirate attacks. It was the site of Spanish royalists' last stand during Peru's fight for independence. Located in the Port of Callao, the Fortaleza is the largest military structure that the Spanish built in the Americas. Named to honor King Philip V of Bourbon, the fort was renamed several times until 1925 when the original title was returned. With an irregular pentagonal shape, the fort occupies seven hectares, with bastions standing at each of its five corners. One of the Port of Callao's most popular tourist destinations, the Fortelaza del Real Felipe houses the Museo del Ejercito (Military Museum) where military artifacts tell the story of Peru's army.
The Port of Callao's Historical Center also houses the Museo Naval (Navy Museum) that celebrates the maritime history of Lima and Callao. This museum contains many paintings and uniforms related to Peru's navy. It is located near the port, and it offers many war relics related to the country's battles with the Spanish and Chilean navies.
To the northeast of the Port of Callao are several small islands. The Island of San Lorenzo is home to a military base. More often frequented by tourists, Cavinzas Island, Palomino Island, and El Fronton also face the Port of Callao. El Fronton was a local prison for many years, and in the 1980s it became infamous for a prison riot in which hundreds of prisoners were killed. Regular ferries and boats visit El Fronton every day. Palomino Islands (Spanish) is a wonderful natural area where the cold sea attracts sea birds and sea lions. Also a ecotourism yacht stop, visitors will love seeing the guano birds that are repopulating the small island. The sea lions have acclimated to human visitors, and they tend to surround ships that approach the island. People are allowed to swim near them, but not enter their territory. They also enjoy watching the social behaviors of the sea lion colony on the island. The Island of San Lorenzo is home to a lighthouse and a small bay and beach with very calm waters. The bay is part of the La Punta resort area, and swimming is allowed.
The beaches at La Punta are clean and relatively calm. People love paddling, swimming, and water skiing at the Playa Cantolao. Most La Punta beaches are a mix of sand and pebbles and, between December and February (the summer), lifeguards are on duty. Several piers in the La Punta beach area have wonderful restaurants as well.
The La Punta Resort Community (Spanish) is located in the western province near the Port of Callao. With cold water and rocky beaches, the La Punta Resort area is an excellent place to watch breathtaking seafront sunsets. La Punta was a fishing village during the time of the Incas and during the Spanish occupation of Peru. In 1915, the District of La Punta was established. Since the middle of the 20th Century, the area has been popular with beach-goers and the more affluent travelers from Lima. Today, La Punta is also home to several rowing clubs and the Naval Academy.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Callao and Lima by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.