For years Arica’s position as the northernmost city in Chile has been its biggest claim to fame, but now the urban center just south of the Peruvian border stands out for another reason: it’s the site of the country’s biggest man-made beach.
Littered with large rocks and plagued by strong currents, the El Laucho beach had long been considered a no-go zone for recreational swimmers.
But now, thanks to a US$5.5 million makeover courtesy of Chile’s Ministry of Public Works (MOP), the picturesque beach at the foot of Arica’s iconic hill, el Morro de Arica, has been converted into 1,500ft (450m) of bathing-friendly coastline.
Begun back in March 2010, the major project focused on removing rocks and establishing two artificial breakwaters, measuring 394ft (120m) and 213ft (65m), to improve swimming conditions. As part of the upgrade, an additional 46,000 tons of sand were also added to the beach.
Other features included in the makeover were a public gazebo, stairs, access ramps and a wooden boardwalk specially designed for people with reduced mobility, along with new shading, lighting and trash cans.
“With the help of some high quality engineering, we have been able to deliver a more spacious beach for swimmers with more walking paths, better viewing points and better access for people with disabilities, all of which didn’t exist a year ago,” regional public works authority Guillermo Beretta told local press
It is hoped that the changes will also make El Laucho much easier to evacuate in the event of an emergency, such as a tsunami.
Chile’s northern Antofagasta Region already has several man-made beaches including Carboncillo, Trodadero, Covadonga and Balneario Municipal, but none are as big or as ambitious as the upgraded El Laucho beach.