Famous because of its white sand beaches and warm water, the beaches of the chilean IV Region offer a great alternative for vacationing. As much as if you want to take a trip with your family or plan a vacation with friends, there are a lot of choices according to your needs. From cabins and camping sites, to a 5 star apart hotel, you can always enjoy the goods of the sea food regional kitchen.

Located 5 minutes from downtown La Serena, Avenida del Mar whose beaches go from the Monumental Lighthouse to Canto del Agua Beach, makes one of the most attractive sightseens in town, counting with lots of tourist services as apart hotels, campings, pubs and discos, restaurants, motels, kids' playground and modern residential buildings. It's also possible to rent private appartments fully equipped for 4-6 people during summer season from $35.000 a day.

The beaches' soft inclination, light sand and warm waters make lots of sports and recreational activities available, as beach games, bike riding, horse renting and walkings trough its 6 kms. long.

In some sectors of the beach it's not recommended to swimm, but during the summer, this forbidden zones are clearly marked.

In the limit between La Serena and Coquimbo is located Peñuelas, actually a fishermen cove. Facing it, there's some typical seafood restaurants. Some of their attractions are the Gambling Casino and the Horse Club.

Taking Coquimbo as a reference point, going out trough North Rute 5, far 15 kms. is located Totoralillo, a little peninsula composed by two white sand beaches of 500 and 800 mts. long each. the access is trough a rural public road of 2 kms. in regular shape. At the fishermen cove you can buy fish ans seafood, and for the sea sport lovers, it's a great place for diving and fishing from the coast. Also it's considered the best surfing beach of the region.
The Tiki Tano center, decorated polinesic style, counts with 10 cabins and a restaurant whose specialty is thai food. Reservations are made in Coquimbo, phone 56-51-312652.

By the 455 km. is possible to see Las Tacas beach from the highway . The unique mediterranean style of its 5 star Apart Hotel shows up between the vegetation and palm trees surrounding it. The price for a 2 people room during summer season goes between 78 and 88 thousand chilean pesos, with room service, continental breakfast and tax included. The beach is 320 mts. long and ends in a sports harbour.

The acces is private, but the Chiringuito Restaurant is opened all year round to all visitors. Those who want just to take a look around and take some pictures, must ask for permission at the main entrance. Reservations can be made at 56-51-399100 or 56-51-399132.

Then we find Morrillos Beach, with a 6 kms. lenght, great for fishing. The camping counts with camping sites and cabins with light and hot water. Only during the summer season the restaurant, mini market and disco are opened. The price for the sites starting December 14, will be $20.000.- The fully equipped cabins, with room service included for 3-4 people will be around 40 - 50 thousand chilean pesos. The direct phone number for the camping is 56-51-397132.

Next stop is Guanaqueros Beach, located 34 kms. away from Coquimbo. It's one of the most attractive tourist centers of the region, and counts with several hosting alternatives, mostly cabins and camping.

It's also possible to rent summer houses for days or weeks. The beach is 17 kms. long with light sand, great for sea sports and fishing at the beach or in a boat. At the fishermen cove it's possible to get a good deal for a boat trip for a couple of hours or fishing early morning. The town roads are mostly paved and the cove has a little harbour, boxes and a working area.

Between the restaurants, it's worthy to point up "El Pequeño", fish and sea food specialties. Very popular between the citizens of la Serena and Coquimbo and very low priced, it is recommended mostly on weekends to plan an early lunch to avoid waiting time for free tables.

In the summer season, the tourist activity increases, and it's possible to join competitions and sport activities during the "Guanaqueros Week", buy some handmade crafts at fairs and go to discos.

From the Guanaqueros-Tongoy public road (Route D-43) trough a 5 Km. inside road, you can get to Playa Blanca , a little bay of about 500 mts. long. It has good conditions for fishing, swimming and water sports. It has camping sites with bathrooms, light and water from $25.000; cabins for 2 to 8 people between 36 and 60 thousand pesos a day, with room service and tax included. The restaurant and the mini market open only during the summer and holidays.   The phone number in La Serena is 56-51-244228 and fax 56-51-241231.

Tongoy Bay, located aprox. 38 kms. far from Coquimbo, and 18 kms. to the coast, has a peninsula and two beaches : Socos Beach and Tongoy's Grande Beach. Socos Beach, 2 kms long offers great conditions for sport fishing from the beach. You can get there trough a local road that goes over the stream and connects directly with the beach.

The Grande Beach is aprox. 14 kms long and is not very good for swimming, but great to fish from the beach or in a boat. At the cove it's possible to rent a boat for a fishing trip or just to enjoy the sightseen. You can also buy good fresh fish and seafood at a very low prices.

Facing the Grande Beach there's a restaurant zone specialized in fish and seafood, and some craft shops. The best of the restaurants is "Negro el Cero" (Black Zero), famous for its cheese and shrimp or crab pies. Unfortunately, because of its reduced space, you will have to wait for free tables, but it sure worths it.

Tongoy has a large camping and restaurant facilities, and there are also available to rent summer houses for days or weeks during the summer and holidays. Its average temperature is between 17 and 18ºC, which allows the visitor to enjoy a nice stay almost all year round.

Pictures and text: Ximena Bustamante