Welcome to Iquique, Chile!
Although founded in the 16th century, Iquique was home to Chango people as early as 7000 BC. As such, this northern Chilean city has been a hub of influence in the area for a very long time. Charles Darwin traveled here, and the city is home to some important events in Chilean history.
Today, the city is an economic hub of Chile, but despite its business forward attitude, the city is very laid back with amazing beaches and resorts, as well as high rises and hotels, dotting the coastline. A worldwide local knows that exploring beach cities often have more to them than just their beaches, and Iquique is a great example of that, offering a balance of sun, culture, and relaxation. This insider’s guide will allow you to visit Chile like a local.
Worldwide Local Tip: Getting around Iquique is pretty easy and simple, on foot. Most beaches are within walking distance of the downtown area, which is likely where you’ll spend a lot of time while you’re here. There are also buses that are very cheap (around 65 cents USD) or taxis which are also very affordable with their average price being around $2-$6 USD.
Soak up the Sun at the Beach
If you’re visiting Iquique chances are you want to head to the beach. Beach culture is a big part of local life here, generally, the place where locals come to meet, enjoy some drinks, picnics, food, and play a little football. The beach is a meeting place, and the one most locals will point you towards is the beautiful Cavancha. Running along the Pacific Ocean, this beach is always happening, with locals working on their tans or hanging out in the water. You can join in on some volleyball, work out on the exercise bars, or just mingle with the locals along the waterfront, or Costanera, Inquique’s greatest hangout.
Worldwide Local Tip: Although Iquique has many great beaches, there are some that are not meant for swimming, so always make sure you know which beach you’re going to and what people use it for. Playa Brava is a great beach for those not looking to swim, who want just to hang out and catch a sunset in Iquique. Chile weather is gorgeous, so enjoy the outdoors, regardless of the activity. For those looking for a bit more excitement, Playa Huayquique is a great spot to do some surfing.
Catch Some Waves--or Sand--in Iquique
Iquique is big on surfing. The city’s beaches get some amazing waves, making it one of the best places in South America to hang ten. If you’re not a strong swimmer and don’t want to risk drowning, but you still want to try your hand at surfing, try heading to Cerro Dragon. Cerro Dragon (or Dragon Hill) is a large sand dune area that’s located just outside the city and is a popular spot for sand surfing. Bring a board and cruise down the massive hill, while getting a pretty amazing view of Iquique from a distance (if you don’t wipe out, that is).
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re going to make the trip to Cerro Dragon and you’re looking to make the experience extra special, make sure to visit in the late afternoon. The hill itself is very big, and getting a glimpse of the sun setting over the sand dunes is a view you won’t soon forget. Don’t forget your camera!
Eat Like a Local
A worldwide local knows that a trip is not complete until you have a little taste of the local food. Iquique has some of the best and freshest seafood around, so make sure to order the fish or seafood ceviche when you’re out and about. If you’re traveling on a budget, make sure to check out the restaurants around the central market. Those with a sweet tooth should make sure to get their hands on some chumbeque, a sweet dough that’s stuffed with fruity fillings and caramel.
Worldwide Local Tip: At the beginning of the 19th century, thousands of Chinese immigrants came to Iquique to pursue work. As a result, they brought their food with them and over time this fusion of South American and Chinese cuisine became known as “Chifa.” There’s a large number of these restaurants around town. Some can be a little pricey but are certainly worth the experience, as they are definitely not your typical Chinese takeout from back home.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Iquique is a beautiful coastal city where any worldwide local could easily spend days just lounging on the beach, enjoying the weather and delicious food. Sometimes all you need is a little sand between your toes and sun on your back to enjoy a city and Iquique has all of that and more.