The name Coquimbo is derived from a native Diaguita word meaning 'place of calm waters'. In fact, Charles Darwin had noted that the town was 'remarkable for nothing but its extreme quietness'. Since then, Coquimbo has developed into a bustling port and the region's major commercial and industrial centre from which minerals, fish products and fruits are exported.
Used during the colonial period as a port for La Serena, Coquimbo attracted attention from English pirates, including Sir Francis Drake, who visited in 1578. Visitors enjoy strolling around the town, admiring some of the elaborate woodwork handcrafted on buildings by early British and American settlers. These wooden buildings are among Chile's most interesting historical structures. Out of town, the area offers some fine beaches in a desert-like setting.
Coquimbo serves as a gateway to the popular resort town of La Serena and trips farther into the Elqui Valley, known as the production centre for Chile's national drink, pisco sour. The valley is also home to several international observatories that take advantage of the region's exceptional atmospheric conditions.
The ship is scheduled to dock at the port of Coquimbo. It is less than one mile (1.6 km) to the centre of town and approximately 10 miles (16 km) to La Serena. Taxis are generally available at the pier. We recommend establishing the fare with the driver before departing the port.
Local handicrafts are your best buys. In Coquimbo, Calle Aldunate is the main shopping street. La Serena offers additional shopping opportunities, including La Recova Market and Plaza Mall. Store hours are generally 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The local currency is the peso.
Fish and seafood are popular choices. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in both Coquimbo and La Serena. Empanadas make a delicious snack, especially when accompanied by a glass of pisco sour.
Other SitesPlaza Prat
This beautiful esplanade overlooks the harbour and the waterfront section of the city. It is framed by interesting old buildings, including the Pablo Garriga House, which belonged to the original owner of the port.
Plaza de Armas
On one side of this popular gathering point is the San Pedro church, begun in 1857. In a small adjoining square is the Museo de Sitio, with a collection of archaeological remains dating from around 900-1000 AD. The museum is part of a cultural complex known as Las Animas.
Located about two miles (3 km) from the port, this church stands on the site of the old refinery. The structure is metallic, lined with stamped, bolted zinc plates; it is a national monument. Taxi transportation is recommended.
In addition to fine restaurants and beaches, the resort features a Japanese Garden and several museums that are worth a visit, including the Archaeological Museum, Regional History Museum, and Mineral Museum (please check opening hours). The resort is also noted for its splendid churches such as the cathedral, the colonial Church of Santo Domingo, Church of San Francisco and San Augustin Church. Several of these are located near the Plaza de Armas.
Guests interested in relaxing on the sand will find several fine beaches in both Coquimbo and La Serena.
For those guests who are interested in touring at your leisure, we are pleased to offer Silver Shore Privato - both half-day and full-day private arrangements by private car or van. You may book this in advance at Silversea.com or it may be purchased on board, subject to availability. Other private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be arranged by emailing Shoreconcierge@silversea.com.