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 bootees 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. (pictures and maps.)
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.
- Chile's most famous balneario is Viña del Mar (photos)
- nearby Concón is popular for the scenic locale and recreational sports
- Reñaca has a beautiful white sand beach, but swimming is not recommended. Surfing
- 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. It faces the Isla de los Pajaros Niños, Santuario de la Naturaleza protecting Humboldt and Magellanic penguins. Scuba diving, sea fishing
- 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. Sea fishing
- El Tabo has a long wide beach and is extremely popular. Sea fishing
- 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. Surfing, scuba diving
- Los Molles is another long beach with a fishing village. Scuba diving, a favorite with Chilean divers.
- Isla Negra is not only the location of Pablo Neruda's home (photos), but also an agate-strewn beach
- Matanzas has gray-ish 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 and as Viña gets progressively more crowded and expensive, La Serena grows more popular. Surfing
- Coquimbo area has wide beaches. Windsurfing, scuba diving
- Bahía Inglesa. Windsurfing
- Caldera: Windsurfing is popular here and at 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. Surfing, windsurfing
- Iquique's beaches have a gradual slope which makes them ideal for swimming and nautical sports. 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 damned 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. Surfing, 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. You can also browse for hotels and car rentals.
Enjoy the beaches, the playas, of Chile!