A well-known landmark of La Serena is the large white and red lighthouse, and although not right on the beach, La Serena would still be considered a beach city, as the coast is only a couple kilometers from the charming, civilized city center and extends north to Punta Tetainos, and south to Coquimbo and beyond. It is not often you find a town with these very elegant streets, a tranquil city center, and quaint restaurants that is also on the coast, but luckily for the locals, and the travelers, this makes La Serena the complete package.
Playa El Faro
The most popular beach in La Serena is named after the most famous landmark in the city, the lighthouse. El Faro, as it translates to in Spanish, sits on the edge of the beach, down the dead straight road, Francisco de Aguirre, from the center of town, and the beach stretches far north and south of the lighthouse, so with this much space, even a weekend crowd will barely speckle the beach.
South down the coast, where Four Corners Street (Calle Cuatro Esquinas) meets the beach, you will, as expected, be at Playa Cuatro Esquinas. An expansion of the sweeping beach south from El Faro, this area of the coast will always be quite vacant and has a nice boardwalk to stroll along next to the beach, and stop in at one of the seafood restaurants right on the coast. Right next to Cuatro Esquinas is also a brand new aire libre—outdoor workout park with arrangements of bars to perform a calisthenic workout.
Continuing along the water’s edge in the same direction, with the coast curving out west into the ocean, you will see the buildings on the peninsula in the distance becoming more clear. The town you are looking at is Coquimbo, and you are viewing it from Coquimbo Beach which is a great place to come if you like a day at the beach filled with activities, beach games, and sports, including the big skateboard park that is located right next to the sand.
Cross over behind the town of Coquimbo and you enter the very tight bay of La Herradura, where the two peninsulas on the horizon look as if they are could almost touch to enclose this body of water. The beach here is one of the most beautiful in the area and the two natural outcrops of land provide shelter for this bay from any type of swell, making it one of the safer places to swim.
Those in search of seclusion and a beach that is not as easy to access as the ones right next to Coquimbo and La Serena, Totoralillo, about south of Coquimbo, will deliver a quiet, unique beach to enjoy. A small path that leads out to the helmet-shaped sandbar cuts into the ocean, and creates a small bending beach on either side of it, and some tranquil swimming pools.
Switching directions completely, and jumping 60 kilometers north of La Serena, you will find an option for people who love a very secluded beach, because even though La Serena is roughly 45 minutes south, it is the closest civilization to Playa Temblador. Take the main highway, number 5, north and when an exit to D-190 appears, veer left and you will be on the path less traveled to the beach less visited. If you want to wake up on the beach as well, bring a tent or crash in your car as people often camp here.
Playa Las Tijeras
Visiting this beach requires much more planning than packing some sunscreen, towel, and a beach umbrella, as it is located on a tiny island known as Isla Damas. Isla Damas actually belongs to a little trio of islands off the coast from Punta de Choros, and belong to the Humboldt National Penguin Reserve, but you can take boat trips over to explore the island and take in some beach time.