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A quick bus ride to the south from La Serena takes you to the charming beachside towns of Tongoy and Guanaqueros. Tongoy is the larger of the two, with more restaurants and hotel options and an open-air market that operates on Mondays and Fridays offering fresh produce side-by-side with used ski suits. A drive along the dirt roads that hug coast of the town will take you through previously exclusive neighborhoods that have fallen out of vogue and now stand half-abandoned, casting their forlorn gaze out onto the breathtaking, rocky coastline. Near the port, hoards of tiny fishing boats cast their nets into the bay for the wide variety of shellfish native to the area.

Don't leave Tongoy without trying the machas — a type of shellfish unique to the coast of central Chile. Rey II, a restaurant by the water near the fishing boats, prepares spectacular machas a la Parmesana, a dish you'll find at almost every seafood restaurant in this region.

By Lauren Yero
I am a recent liberal arts graduate who travels as a compulsion. I have lived in several regions of the US as well as briefly abroad in England and...
14 Nov 2008

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