With around 3000 miles of coastline it should come as little surprise that Chile boasts some excellent beaches. Golden sand is a staple in this notably thin country and it’s perfect for nestling down with a good book and catching some rays. What’s better is that these beautiful Chilean beaches are usually rested in equally charming towns, that add character as well as comfort to them. Here are what we think are the best beaches in Chile (in no particular order), along with the respective beach towns.
If you like the finer things in life then you may well find yourself in Viña del Mar regardless of whether you want to go to the beach or not. This gorgeous city is just a few miles away from the much grittier Valparaiso but it is a world apart in terms of style.
The people here make some serious money and it shows in the prices. Shining condominium blocks glint in the sunshine and fancy cars parade through the streets. An empanada that cost you 1000 pesos in Valparaiso will set you back 1500 here. But, fear not. The beaches are still free. And, they are beautiful, clean and full of friendly Chileans who will always be happy to tell you about their amazing city.
- Location: 1.5 hours from Santiago
- How to Get There: You can get a bus there directly from Santiago. Alternatively, hop on a micro (bus) or the metro from Valparaiso to Viña del Mar – it will only take about 20 minutes.
- What to Take: Plenty of money if you want to be able to afford a decent lunch.
Situated just north of Viña del Mar, Concon Beach is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. While you can relax on the beach and surf in its clear, blue water, Concon beach's main attraction is the staggeringly big sand dunes that sit between the main road and the sea. Climbing up sand dunes isn’t the easiest thing in the world but if you can manage it you will be rewarded with some stunning vistas from the top.
If you are feeling particularly daring then you might want to try your hand at sand boarding. When you arrive at the dunes you will see loads of boards sticking out of the sand. It doesn’t cost much to rent one and you are bound to have a good time. Just be aware that you will probably fall over a lot.
- Location: North of Viña del Mar
- How to Get There: There are loads of micros that go from Valparaiso and Viña del Mar to Concon, so just ask around to find out where they stop.
- What to Take: Loose and comfy clothing that you can easily shake the sand out of when you fall off your sandboard.
If you are looking for a more traditional beach then La Serena beach fits the bill perfectly. Outside of the busy summer months, the beach town La Serena is quiet and the vibe is very chilled. This makes it the ideal place to get some sunshine and watch the gentle waves without the shrieks and shouts of a million other people running around.
Away from the beach, the town has plenty to offer its visitors including markets full of goodies, some great food spots and pisco vineyards. If you’ve never tasted pisco before then be sure to make some time for this in your itinerary as it is a national favourite.
- Location: Just under 500km north of Santiago
- How to Get There: There are regular flights that go from Santiago to La Serena and they take around 1 hour. If you would rather catch a bus from Santiago, prepare for a 6-hour ride.
- What to Take: A good book to while away the lazy hours on the beach.
La Caleta beach in Chile can be found within the Pan de Azucar (bread of sugar) National Park in the San Pedro de Atacama Desert. Given its location in a desert, the landscape here is sparse and desolate, giving it an understated beauty that you’d be foolish to miss.
If you don’t want to just hang around on the beach all day there are a number of activities on offer. Perhaps the most unique of these is a boat trip to a nearby island, which is the home of hundreds of adorable penguins. Get your camera ready because you would not want to forget this.
- Location: In the North of Chile near the border with Bolivia
- How to Get There: There are regular flights from Santiago to Calama and then from Calama there are buses that take around 2-3 hours to the San Pedro de Atacama Desert.
- What to Take: A tent. For 3,500 pesos, you can camp out on the beach and do some serious star-gazing.
The undisputed beauty queen of Chile’s beaches, Bahia Inglesa is a seaside resort flaunting all crystal clear turquoise water and white powder sand. It is easy to see why it is Chile’s most photographed beach and it goes without saying that once you’re there, you won’t want to leave. Just lay down a towel and enjoy the sun, the sand, and the sea.
In addition to its visual splendour, the water in Bahia Inglesa is warmer than what you will find in the South. This means you can even take a dip in the sea even when evening sets in.
- Location: North of Chile, around 850km from Santiago
- How to Get There: If you are coming from Santiago the easiest option is to take a flight, which lasts around 1 hour 15 minutes.
- What to Take: Sun cream as it can get pretty hot here, especially in the summer.
Chile might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of ‘beach holiday’ but there is a lot to be said for Chile’s varied collection of beaches. So, grab your tattered copy of Pablo Neruda poems and make your way to the coast for a seaside getaway unlike any other. If you plan on a Chile trip with the intention to explore its beaches, then remember the ideal beach season is during summer – from November to March. Be there!