Chile's beaches have so much to offer. With 2580 miles (4300 km) from the northern border with Peru to the Strait of Magellan, Chile has a tremendously long coastline with wild and rocky cliffs, islands, coves, protected nooks and bays, inlets, and beaches. South of Region VI, Region del Libertador O'Higgins, the coastline becomes too rocky and fragmented to offer traditional beach activities.
The Humboldt current flows north along the coast, bringing up with it the cold bottom waters that make swimming a cool challenge and wetsuits, gloves, and booties a must for surfing and windsurfing.
In all areas, strong currents and riptides are dangerous and are posted on the more popular areas.
Most of the best-known beach resorts, balnearios, are in central Chile, from El Norte Chico, south past the metropolitan district of Santiago, to the northern reaches of Region VII, Region del Maule. Middle Chile enjoys a mild, pleasant Mediterranean climate, much like California's central coast, and, as such, visitors enjoy warm to hot days and cooler nights. Some areas, like at Caldera, have an almost tropical feel to them.
All these beach areas are close enough to Santiago and environs to attract hordes of visitors during the summer months. Accommodations vary from campgrounds to five-star hotels and resorts. Restaurants are famed for their seafood dishes, and nightlife is lively. Most of these beaches are fun for windsurfers.
- Viña del Mar, Chile's most famous balneario.
- Nearby Concón is popular for the scenic locale and recreational sports.
- Reñaca has a beautiful white sand beach, but swimming is not recommended.
- Valparaíso is Chile's major seaport. Its five beaches have steep dropoffs.
- Quintero is both a balneario and a marina favored by yachtsmen.
- Horcón is a small fishing village also known as an artist colony.
- Algarrobo boasts calm waters and is the center for many aquatic sports, including international competitions, scuba diving, and sea fishing. It faces the Isla de los Pajaros Niños, Santuario de la Naturaleza protecting Humboldt and Magellanic penguins.
- Zapallar is considered one of the most beautiful in Chile, with clean white sand and forested hills.
- Papudo's steep dropoff makes the beach ideal for sea fishing.
- El Quisco has calm waters and a steep dropoff.
- Maitencillo offers a wide beach and pine and eucalyptus forest.
- Cartagena is very popular and crowded on the weekends.
- El Tabo has a long, wide beach and is extremely popular.
- Cachagua has a good beach and faces Cachagua island, where the Santuario de la Naturaleza protects Humboldt and Magellanic penguins.
- Santo Domingo is scenic but windy.
- Pichidangui is popular for its long, white sandy beach and a sheltered cove.
- Los Molles is another long beach with a fishing village and is a favorite with Chilean divers.
- Isla Negra is not only the location of Pablo Neruda's home but also an agate-strewn beach.
- Matanzas has grayish sand and is popular with surf fishermen.
- Pichilemu was originally designed like a European resort but now attracts windsurfers and surfers.
El Norte Chico
- La Serena grows more popular as Viña gets progressively more crowded and expensive.
- Coquimbo area has wide Chilean beaches good for windsurfing and scuba diving.
- Bahía Inglesa is recommended for windsurfing.
- Caldera is a popular destination for windsurfing as are Huasco and Bahía Salada.
El Norte Grande
The beaches of the far north range between wide sand and rocky cliffs. Water temperature fluctuates with the season, but it is always on the cool side.
- Arica has a year-round springlike climate, and the water is warm, so the gently sloped beaches are popular for surfing and windsurfing.
- Iquique's beaches have a gradual slope, which makes them ideal for swimming and nautical sports like surfing.
- Tocopilla is on a rocky section of coast, but there are several sandy beaches as well as coves, such as balneario Caleta Boy, where the water has been dammed to make a swimming area.
- Antofagasta is a major seaport, but there are sandy beaches scattered among the rocky coves. The best are south of town, ideal for surfing and windsurfing.
- Mejillones is one of the North's best beaches.
To visit or vacation at any of these beaches, find flights from your area to Santiago and other locations in Chile.
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Enjoy the beaches, the playas, of Chile!
Edited by Ayngelina Brogan