Iquique, Chile Cruise Port
Originally a Peruvian city, the cruise port of Iquique, Chile is a jewel in the Pacific Ocean. One of the two free Chilean ports and capital of both the Iquique Province and Tarapacá Region, the city of about 180,000 people has a rich history and diverse ethnic makeup. One of the city’s most famous visitors was Charles Darwin, who sailed here in 1835 on the Beagle; his remarks about the area were not exactly complimentary. Despite Mr. Darwin’s comments, things have improved over the years. Iquique has mild desert climate, which is somewhat rare; thanks to its location to both the ocean and Atacama Desert, the temperatures stay fairly consistent year round and there's very little rainfall. As a result – and with the inclusion of beaches, casinos, and duty free shopping – it’s a popular holiday destination. Listed below are a handful of our favorite experiences when cruising to Iquique, Chile:
- Located within the Atacama Desert, you'll find the historically important Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works. Saltpeter, or potassium nitrate, is a compound used in things such as fertilizers and fireworks; the saltpeter mines of Iquique created a thriving economy. Today it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can explore the buildings and learn about the process.
- Esmerelda was a wooden-hulled steam corvette who challenged much larger Peruvian warships during the War of the Pacific's Battle of Iquique. Although Esmerelda sunk, she put up a mighty three-hour struggle beforehand. At the Museo Corbeta Esmeralda, you can visit a replica, learn more of her history, and get more information about Arturo Prat, the original ship's heroic captain.
- One of the best beaches here is Playa Cavancha. Surrounded by palm trees, there are fine, white sands for relaxing and harder sands perfect for a run (it's also popular among surfers). The nearby boardwalk has vendors selling snacks and drinks if you didn't bring your own.
- Baquedano Street is a long street in the old quarter, popular for its historical architecture. A pleasant way to while away the hours, you can also find shops and restaurants when you tire of taking photos.