Huacachina is built around a small natural lake in the desert. Called the Oasis of America, it serves as a resort for local families from the nearby city of Ica, and increasingly as an attraction for tourists drawn by the sports of sand boarding and taking dune buggy rides on sand dunes that stretch several hundred feet high.

Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surrounding sand dunes. And the woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid.