With over 2,580 miles (roughly 4,300 kilometers) of coast, Chile is bound to have a beach that floats your boat—literally. Whether you’re looking for an artsy beachside boardwalk lined with vendors or awesome waves for a day of surfing, Chile has the beach for you. Here are Tripping.com’s top picks for beach destinations in Chile.
Best Beaches in Chile
Some people say that Zapallar is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Chile. The beach faces a horseshoe-shaped cove that protects swimmers from the open ocean. The idyllic shoreline is blanketed in soft yellow sand, and the emerald water sparkles as each wave catches sunlight. The waters are cool to cold all year round, and it’s a popular weekend getaway and summer vacation sport for Santiago locals and the elite (who own the expensive beach houses in the area).
There are numerous activities to fill the summer days, such as kayaking and scuba diving, as well as entertainment for those lovely summer evenings (outdoor movie screenings and dinners at beachside restaurants). Because the coastal region is prone to inclement weather, locals start heading to the beach around 3pm, which is when the sun gets the better of the morning gloom and drizzle.
This is a destination that locals recommend to travelers. For most of the year, Pichilemu is a quiet community of around 10,000 full-time residents, until February hits. February is holiday time in Chile, and that’s when families flock to the beaches to enjoy some R&R. During high holiday season, you can find vacationing families having beachside picnics on the sand, riding horses along the coast, and enjoying the carnival rides and seaside cafés that all add to Pichilemu’s charm.
But Pichilemu’s real secret to success? It’s known as the prime location for surfers in Chile. Punta de Lobos, which is just south of Pichilemu, is considered one of the best beaches for surfing worldwide. There are numerous surfing championships held at this beach annually, throughout different times in the year. If you want to see large swells and killer waves (of up to 49 feet), then fall or winter is the time of year to make the trip.
This travel destination is technically a lake, but it’s known for having one of the most popular lakeside beaches in Chile. The area is famous for its hot springs, such as Coñaripe, San Luis, Huife and Termas Geométricas. But what really sets this location apart is the intermingling of two very different cultures that define the landscape of the region. The two cities of Pucon and Villarrica abound with the heritage of the Mapuche people as well as that of the German colonists who settled in the region in the 19th century. That’s why the cities offer such eclectic and diverse entertainment, such as a casino, or dinner in a traditional Mapuche ruca (dwelling). Check out this destination any time of year; the lake water is warmer than the coastal waves, and the hot springs are open all year round.
4. Vina del Mar
If you want to party with the locals, this beach is where Santiaguinos go to escape the summer’s heat. Imagine boardwalk meets street carnival meets baseball game. You have vendors walking around the beach selling cuchuflis and dulces like they sell peanuts and caramel corn at Yankee Stadium. There is an artesanía, or handmade crafts market, reminiscent of Venice Beach in southern California. And there are crowds that stretch for days once temperatures reach their highs.
This beach is perfect if you want to get a taste of how locals spend their summer, but not so much for those who don’t like crowds. If you want to mix and mingle, try visiting at the peak of vacation season, when people flock to the shores. If not, take some time off-season to check out this local hotspot Santiaguinos have been coming to since the 1800s.
Downtown Valparaiso is a UNESCO designated World Heritage site that offers charming architecture, delicious food, and a bohemian array of markets and stores. This region was once one of the South Pacific seaports, and is making its way back on to the radar for reviving its rich architectural glory and renewing its identity as a market center of culture. This city was made for walking, so put on some comfortable shoes wander through the metropolitan maze of a city. Locals affectionately refer to it as the city of details, according to Matador Network, because there’s something to do or see in every nook and cranny of the city.
If you want to spend a night under the stars, then Pan de Azucar is a beachside national park where you can pay 3,500 pesos a night to pitch a tent and sleep under a cabana. This beach is located in the Atacama Desert, so you can enjoy the best of two worlds—a panoramic view of the beach, and the desert landscape of the Atacama. There are two other campsites in the area called Piqueros Norte and La Caleta. Both see more traffic than Pan de Azucar, and La Caleta has even has two restaurants and a small market where you can stock up on necessities. The ideal time of year to visit would be early or late summer, when temperatures become more tolerable, and the desert heat isn’t as overbearing.
This beach is perfect for those of you who don’t like to swim in the ocean. Algarrobo is more reminiscent of a lake, because it rests within a protected alcove. Here, you can swim, rent a kayak, or even go rafting. If you really prefer the chlorinated water of a swimming pool to salty ocean water, you should check out the San Alfonso del Mar, the private condominium resort that is home to the Guinness Book of World Records’ largest swimming pool in the world.
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This article was written by Hanna Choi.