Situated in north of the country, Coquimbo is the capital of the region of the same name and the province of Elqui. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean, to the north La Serena, to the east Andacollo and to the south Ovalle.
The wonders of its extensive coastline, which runs from La Serena in the north to Tongoy in the south, have long been admired. Liberally dotted with beaches, coves and spas, it invites visitors to soak up the sun and enjoy its soft white sand and warm, crystal-clear water.
The city’s Avenida Costanera also has a large number of attractions to offer, among them a casino, a four-kilometre cycle path, gyms and free outdoor recreational activities.
Coquimbo has much to offer in terms of accommodation and sightseeing, including some delightful beauty spots, among them La Herradura Bay – once a favourite haunt of pirates – and Fray Jorge National Park.
*Places of interest *
To visit El Barrio Ingles is to take a trip back in time and get a feel for what life was like for the port’s inhabitants in the early 1900s, when it began growing into the city it is today. Its cobbled streets and large houses – made of Oregon pine and corrugated iron – form part of an area that is Coquimbo’s biggest attraction in terms of culture, tourism and cuisine. During daytime hours, the district is home to craft shops, pastry shops and cafes, while at night-time there is much to see and do, with nearly 50 restaurants to choose from, not to mention a wide variety of pubs and clubs.
For the very best seafood, visitors should make their way to the Puerto Pesquero Artesanal, Chile’s second-largest fishing port and home to many stalls, restaurants and traditional eateries serving delicacies such as oysters, clams, squid, prawns, mussels, limpets and sea snails. Fish is also on the menu, in the shape of albacore, southern ray’s bream and hake. The boat trips around Coquimbo Bay and to the island of Los Lobos are also well worth taking.
For stunning views of La Herradura Bay and Guayacan Wharf, then make a beeline for Los Navegantes, a vantage point that reveals the sheer immensity of the Pacific Ocean. The building is a tribute to the English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Dutch sailors who frequented the Coquimbo 500 years and played their part in creating the many local legends of hidden treasures and adventure on the high seas.
Founded on 11 June 1958, Club de Deportes Coquimbo Unido are nicknamed Los Piratas, a nod to the past and the many tales of corsairs and pirates who stalked local waters in colonial times. Coquimbo Unido’s rivalry with Deportes La Serena – another club who will be hosting games at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 – is one of the biggest in the country.
The club acquired its black and yellow kit after a series of matches against the crew of the British ship HMS Flora. Following the fifth game, which was won by Los Piratas, the sailors handed over a set of shirts sporting the colours of the flag of St David, the patron saint of Wales.
This is the second time that the region of Coquimbo is welcoming a FIFA competition, having hosted games at the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup in 2008.