Iquique is somewhat of a quintessential Chilean surfing destination, and a popular getaway spot for the Chilenos themselves. It’s a great place to break up the journey between the north and south. I’ve stopped here 3 times now, always between 2-5 days, and always appreciated it and had a good visit.
When I first came to Chile, I came straight to Iquique from Tacna, just changing buses in Arica. It’s around 7 hours or so between Tacna and Iquique. For heading south, to Santiago, it’s about a 24 hour run. Note that Turbus does some really nice buses for the trip, including Premium class, where the chair goes down to a full 180 degrees.
It gives me great pleasure to actually introduce a somewhat “hidden” cafe here. Cafe Mahalo is operated alongside a surf shop, which made it a bit more difficult to locate. I walked past and noticed it (finally) during my third stay in Iquique. Great place though, looking over the beach. I thought they did a better than average capucchino as well. If you do a search for “Mahalo,” you should find it. It didn’t even used to be on maps. I believe the surf shop is named Vertical.
Cafe Carpe Diem
Cafe Carpe Diem is where I went before I found Cafe Mahalo. If you go there, you will understand why. It has really a lot of seating, downstairs, upstairs, and a large back room as well. Mahalo is more of a nomad cafe, but Carpe Diem will certainly work as well. The hours are from 8:30am to 10pm every day, except Sundays.
Chillin’ in Chile
So I have a little tip here. I always stay at Backpacker’s Hostel in Iquique, and I give it most of the credit for my good times there. It was where I spent my first night in Chile, and I wandered straight into quite the crazy party. The other times I’ve visited, there hasn’t necessarily been a crazy party, but I’ve always met people and had a good time. The hostel has it very together as well, and you can hear the waves rolling in as you go to sleep. No promises or anything here. Just relating my own experience.
Enjoy that great beach now!