Punta de Choros is in Coquimbo.
Punta de Choros is a sleepy little fishing village about 100 km north of La Serena. During the summer it receives a lot of Chilean and foreign tourists looking to enjoy the beach and nearby nature reserve, but during the winter it is relatively empty.
The major draw is the National Humboldt Penguin Reserve, where it is possible to see Humboldt penguins, bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, sea otters, and many types of seabirds. Sea lions are visible all year round. Dolphin sightings are frequent but not guaranteed. During the summer, the penguins are quite active hunting and swimming. During the winter, the penguins nest in the rocks high above so it is more difficult to see them from the boats.
The most convenient way to get to Punta de Choros is by car. It is about two hours from La Serena. A 4WD is recommended as the road after turning off Ruta 5 winds through some mountains and is somewhat bumpy.
If you don't want to rent a car, there is a micro bus that goes between La Serena and Punta de Choros twice a day. The bus leaves from the Panaderia El Griegos in La Serena around 09:00, and another one later in the afternoon. Similarly, there is a bus leaving Punta de Choros around 9am, and another one around 3pm. In both directions they will drop you off at several points in town, just tell the driver where you want to go. The cost is CLP$4,500 per person one way, These buses are basically run by two guys Eduardo (9377 0514) and Hector (8970 3499), so it is strongly advisable to call ahead to confirm the schedule. Once you are in Punta de Choros, you can ask your hostel to call for you.
It is also possible to visit Punta de Choros as part of a tour from La Serena.
Punta de Choros is very small, and it is easy to get anywhere you want in the town on foot. However, the streets are unpaved and dusty, and you will occasionally see cars driving around.
- [formerly dead link] Reserva Nacional Pingüino de Humbolt (National Humboldt Penguin Reserve). W-Su 09:00-17:30 during the low season (April-November) and daily 09:00-17:30 during the high season (December-March). The National Humboldt Penguin Reserve is the main attraction. This comprises three islands: Isla Choros, Isla Damas, and Isla Chañaral. Visitors are only permitted to disembark on Isla Damas. There is a trail around the island that should take about 45 minutes to hike. Visitors are only permitted to land on the island for one hour, but this is variably enforced. If you want to land on the island, it is necessary to purchase a ticket from the rangers before going on the boat. There is a station near the dock. At all times of the year the last entry is one hour before closing. CLP$2,500/1,000 adults/children.
- [formerly dead link] National Humbolt Penguin Reserve. See previous section for additional details. You can find a boat to take you on a tour of the park at the dock. The cost for hiring the boat is CLP$9,000 per person (in May 2013)
Punta de Choros is a good place to participate in many water sports. Kayaking, surfing, fishing, swimming, and scuba diving are popular here, particularly in the summer. There are dive operators on the island who can also help to arrange other activities.
There is not much to buy in Punta de Choros. There are a couple of small stores for simple groceries and other essentials, but this is not a place to buy souvenirs.
Restaurants can often be identified by their Coca-Cola flags. Most are small, family-run establishments, and the best way to find one is just to walk around.
- Los Delfines (On the road closest to the water, second story). One of the larger and more popular establishments, it has some great views of the ocean.
- El Tio Dogui. A family-run guesthouse, they have three rooms (two doubles and one with three twin beds) that they rent out to visitors. The house is full of children and the family will invite you to meals with them. Great way to experience Chilean family life. CLP$10,000 for a double room with shared bathroom.
Additionally, the two dive shops have cabins to rent out, and there is a camping area near the dock.
There are dogs all over Punta de Choros, and some can be quite territorial. In some cases they are strays, though many are owned by locals. Try not to aggravate any of them. Yelling "¡Baja!" or "¡Salga!" in a firm voice will sometimes get them to leave you alone.