(Place of calm waters)
Coquimbo is a coast city placed 7.4 miles south from La Serena and 287 miles north from Santiago of Chile. Coquimbo has a population of 148.438 and it’s the most important port of the sector, integrating Coquimbo and Guayacán.
The city of Coquimbo is a source of legends of hidden treasures, due to that in the past centuries was assaulted by pirates and corsairs. In the year 1578 the English corsair Francis Drake discovered La Herradura (horse shoe) bay and called this way for its shape. Since that very same moment, the bay became a shelter for pirates and filibusters like Bartolomé Scharp, Eduardo Davis, Jorge Anson and others of minor importance.
Making an interesting trip around Coquimbo, you can visit the Arms Square (Plaza de Armas), the Prat Square (Plaza Prat) and the Oceanside Avenue (Costanera), the Museum and Culture. To the south of Coquimbo you will reach the beach of La Herradura and to the North, the Los Hornos Creek , North Totoralillo and The Temblador Beach .
La Herradura is situated just 1.2 miles from Coquimbo. It’s an old fishing creek and a copper foundry. Today La Herradura is an attractive beach village for tourists where there are spaces for camping, a yacht club, lodges and other tourist services.
La Herradura bay it’s characterized by having a calm sea, apt for swimming and practicing nautical sports. The waters of the beaches at La Herradura are warm and are 1.2 miles long and 131 feet wide. They are apt for swimming and practicing nautical sports such as windsurf and diving, among others.
Next to the beach is the Guayacán Port (Puerto de Guayacán), operated by a mechanical dock. In your visit you will be able to see the Church of La Herradura and the Yacht Cub (Club de Yates).
Among the main attractions near Coquimbo, is Las Tacas Bathing Resort (Balneario Las Tacas) located 11.8 miles south from La Serena and 10.5 miles from Coquimbo.
The beach at the Las Tacas Bathing Resort has white and fine sand and descends softly to the sea. It offers favorable conditions for practicing an ample myriad of nautical sports, sailing, surfing, diving, among others.
In this beach you find one of the major and most important property complex that exist in this country, where the magic of the semi-dry nature of the place is combined with the complex’s modern facilities including many groups of departments facing the ocean, an apart hotel and an international quality restaurant; pool, besides many services such as an aerodrome, communication facilities, sports fields, etc.
The Guanaqueros Bay (Bahía de Guanaqueros) is located 21 miles of Coquimbo and at 28.5 miles of La Serena. Guanaqueros is one of the main tourist centers of the region and has diverse alternatives of lodging, mainly lodges and camping. It’s possible to rent summer houses per days or weeks.
The beach of Guanaqueros extends itself for 10.5 miles of fine sand and warm waters, ideal for practicing nautical sports, sport fishing of sole and corbina on the shore or a boat. At the fisherman’s creek you can negotiate a good price for a trip on a boat for a couple of hours or to go fishing early in the morning. The streets of the town of Guanaqueros are most of them paved, and the fisherman’s creek has a dock, boxes and an esplanade for work and docking.
Coquimbo city tour sites:
The peculiar architecture of Coquimbo is due to English and North American carpenters who did an elaborated work on wood. Thus, they gave to the buildings a particular firmness and beauty. These buildings made of wood that exist in Chile are of most interest.
To see in one visit the most interesting places in the area, enter Coquimbo on Av. Juan Antonio Ríos until the diamond point and continue on Aldunate street, the main commercial artery on which the old railroad used to pass, until the
Arms Square of Coquimbo. It was designed by the French Juan Herbage, at the foot steps of the old La Cruz Hill (Cerro La Cruz). Today is the reunion center of the city of Coquimbo. It has a fountain and scenery for artistic shows. In front is the San Pedro church (iglesia San Pedro), from 1862, that was the first parish, founded in 1857. Masses are held between November and April, from Tuesday to Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 9 am, 12:15 pm and 8 pm. Between March and October, from Monday to Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday and holidays at 9 am, 12.15 pm and 7:30 pm.
Annexed are the square Gabriela Mistral and its Animas Culture Dome
(Domo Cultura Animas) that exhibits the archeological vestiges of 3 graves of the cultural complex Las Animas (900 to 1000 AC) discovered in this place in 1981. Visiting hours are on January and February, from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 am to 8:30 pm, Sundays and holidays from 9:30 am to 2 pm. Tourist information is provided during summer.
Continue with the trip across Coquimbo on Aldunate Street to the North to the English Neighborhood (Barrio Inglés). It’s formed by the stretch of the Aldunate and Melgarejo streets from Las Heras to González, where constructions from the XIX century and beginning of XX century are concentrated, built by immigrants attracted by the mining peak.
In the year 2004, the Municipality of Coquimbo (Municipalidad de Coquimbo) started the city’s restoration, recuperating old facades and lighting up the streets, and remodeled squares with hanging sculptures and palm trees. This caused an intensive activity in Coquimbo: houses were transformed into active restaurants, event centers, bars, pubs and discos, theatre and art rooms were inaugurated, a jazz and tango clubs, transforming the neighborhood into an important place for reunion, specially at night. At N° 739 you will see a house today converted into the Jazz Club (Club de Jazz); on the corner of Freire, observe the group formed by the house Vicente, from 1850 (N° 701), the house Bauza, from 1880 (N° 708) and the house of Torreón, from 1905 (N° 699). Finally, you get to the last group of this street, formed by the former English & South American Bank (Banco Anglo-Sudamericano [Nº 657]), constructed in 1880 next to the house of Pablo Garriga, from 1828, the oldest one of the port. Then we have the former Hotel Palace, from 1892 (N° 599) and at the N° 575 an interesting house with exterior corridors, from 1830.
The Prat Square is surrounded by this last group of houses. It’s a beautiful esplanade with steps over the port with attractive sculptures hanging from high posts. Go down to visit the Oceanside Avenue of Coquimbo. Along it you can see port activity and small boats on the bay. On the corner of Freire is the Culture and Tourism House (Casa de la Cultura y Turismo), a pyramidal building that offers tourist information, a public library and permanent exhibits. The hours are from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. There’s tourist information from March to December; during summer the information is provided at the Site Museum (Museo de Sitio).
Keep going on the Oceanside Avenue until the O’Higgins Park (Parque O’Higgins), with an amphitheater and pedestrian walks. It’s actually under expansion work. The hours are Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 7 pm. The admission ticket is free.
The San Pedro creek is in front of the park. It offers marine products and there’s a craft fair. From there catamarans and motorboats set sail and go around the bay of Coquimbo and to the island Los Lobos. Tourist motorboats, during summer there are 10 motorboats setting sail every day from 10 am to 9 pm, as their capacity becomes full. During Winter, 2 big motorboats continue the service on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. The fare costs $2.000.
Tortuga Lighthouse (Faro Punta de Tortuga), and its meteorologist measuring center. In order to visit it, groups of at least 10 must be arranged. You must write a note to request authorization to the Maritime Governing Body of Coquimbo (Gobernación Marítima de Coquimbo). It’s free of charge.
Go back and go up on Latorre Street, then continue on Rodríguez that goes through the high part of the city of Coquimbo. When reaching Portales street take a right; on the corner with Luis Ayala street take another right to visit the Cross of the III Millennium (Cruz del III Milenio). It’s a worthwhile visit. It’s located at the top of the Vigía hill, and it’s the highest and most spectacular construction built in the country in homage to the 2000 years since Jesus Christ was born. The base it’s formed by three bent columns, forming a tripod. Over this the cross elevates composed of three square columns of 13.1 feet on its side, representing the Trinity and that in the highest point is 272 feet.
Through a stairs of two thousand steps you can get to the base and the big multi purpose room. From there, using the stairs or the elevator you can get to the first viewpoint, at 65.6 feet of height, and to the Ecumenical Prayer Square (Plaza de Oración Ecuménica), ornamented with vitreaux. For the last stretch, to the splendid viewpoints inside the horizontal arms of the cross, at 206.6 feet of height, the stairs or the elevators inside the columns must be used. The main construction is finished, however the access road and the parking facilities are provisory. The admission ticket costs $1.000 per person.
Go back to the Rodríguez street and continue on it up to La Pampilla. It’s an esplanade of land situated between the hills, where Independence Festivities (Fiestas Patrias) are celebrated on September 18, 19 and even the 20, a holiday day for the region and a unique case in the entire Chile. Thousands of tents are raised, traditional activities take place such Chilean races or greased pole (palo ensebado) and, in a big stage, folkloric musical shows are held. It all concludes with fireworks. The coast sector of La Pampilla is full of excavations performed by two English expeditions, in 1893 and 1926, and some other Chilean ones looking for a hidden treasure of the pirates, according to the polemic book by Ricardo Latcham “The Pirates Treasure of Guayacán” (1935).
Continue on the road to the fishery San José. There you find the Sailors Viewpoint (Mirador de los Navegantes), with a sculpture built in memory of the old sailors that visited this area. From above you get a better view of the bay of La Herradura and of Guayacán.
Go back on Guacolda Street up to Larrondo. On the right is the Guayacan Campus of the Catholic University of the North (Campus Guayacán de la Universidad Católica del Norte) where the Coast Center of Aquiculture and Marine Research (Centro Costero de Acuicultura e Investigaciones Marinas) operates, focused in the research oriented to the production of marine species. It has aquariums with fauna from the Chilean coast. It can be visited with previous reservations, between January and February, from Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 4 pm. Between March and December, from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:30 pm to 5 pm. The admission ticket costs $300.
Continue on Guacolda street until Ossandón and go down through this square of the former foundry, surrounded by the Management House (Casa de Administración), declared a national monument, dating from 1830. Next to it is the casa Errázuriz (Errázuriz House) (1880) and, and finishing the square, there’s the beautiful Church of Guayacán (Iglesia de Guayacán), declared national monument. It was designed and pre-manufactured by the industry of the French engineer Alejandro Eiffel. Maximiliano Errázuriz bought it in Belgium in 1888 and installed it here. Its structure is of profiled metals and the interior and exterior are covered with galvanized sheets, stamped and bolted to the structure. Masses are held on Sunday at 10 am. The Virgin of Rosario Festivity (Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario) with religious dances on the 2nd Saturday and y 3rd Sunday of January.
Continue on Los Rieles street and turn right to enter the English Cemetery (Cementerio Inglés). It was created in 1860 by the foundry’s doctor and by order of the English Admiralty, over a hill that before looked over the bay. Today is surrounded by the mechanical dock of iron mineral and by fuel deposits. It has beautiful headstones and crosses, imported from Europe, that are testimonies of a splendid past. It’s a worthwhile visit; request authorization from the caretaker.
Coquimbo connects to La Serena through Peñuelas, where you will find a gambling casino, food facilities, lodging and other entertainment. Because La Serena is a more touristic destination, we recommend to stay in one of La Serena Hotels and explore Coquimbo during the day.
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