An army of wetsuited warriors is always to be found dripping its way along Iquique's coastal road. Surfing and body-boarding are best in winter, when swells come from the north, but they're possible year-round. Tiny Playa Bellavista is a good spot for learners. There's less competition for early-morning breaks at Playa Cavancha. Playa Huaiquique, on the southern outskirts of town, is also an exhilarating choice but the sea is warmer further north near Arica. One of Chile's biggest surf championship events takes place in Iquique, Héroes de Mayo.


Go jump off a cliff…and fly! That's the message you'll get from Iquique's many parapente (paragliding) fanatics. The city's unique geography, with its steep coastal escarpment, rising air currents and the soft, extensive dunes of Cerro Dragón, makes it one of the best places for paragliding in South America. It's theoretically possible to glide all the way to Tocopilla, 240km south – but that's not for novices. Bring along a windbreaker, sunblock and guts.