anakenaCreativecommons.org/ Christian Córdova

The water in Chile is, well… a little chilly, but the warm sun and sand keeps the beaches busy during the summer months. When sunbathing is combined with the incredible beauty of the region, hanging out at the beach is easily one of the best things to do when visiting the country.

Hornitos

Located 90 kilometres north of Antofagasta, there are two main beaches there: Los Hornos and Punta Hornos. There are about 300 houses in the town, but they are empty most of the year with very few permanent residents. Hornitos is basically a beach town. When looking for unspoiled beauty, the part-time status of the town is an advantage as is its location. The area is remote and the geography is a fascinating mix of desert, mountain and seashore, creating an amazing secluded ‘bowl’ that collects warmth in the summer.

“Hornitos” translates into “oven”, as the sand in the region can become quite hot – at an average of 28ºC in the summer. The good thing about the location and hot sands is that this is one of the few beaches in Chile that has delightfully warm waters. The cove-like landscape creates calm seas that are great for swimming or paddling a kayak around to look for sea turtles.

There is no running water or electricity anywhere in the town and visitors need to bring everything they need for their stay. There are no services whatsoever so plan to pack your trash out when you go, leaving the town as clean as when you first arrived. You may be able to rent a house but should probably plan on staying at the nearby campground, just in case.

Cifuncho

Also in the Antofagasta region, just 44 kilometres south of Taltal, Cifuncho is simply beautiful. The waters are sparkling clear and the white sand beach is postcard-worthy. Nearby Taltal gives you access to a lot of adventure attractions, including Llullaillaco National Park and volcano. You can travel to El Medano canyon to see cave paintings or to Paranal Observatory to look at the stars. The town of Taital has a number of historic buildings and is the best place to find accommodations.

The beach is always on the list of the top five beautiful beaches of Chile – it’s just that gorgeous. Fortunately it’s also fun. Swimming and snorkeling are great here and there are lifeguards on duty. You are never far from amenities such as restaurants serving fresh fish. If you’re on the beach at the right time you may even see the fishermen coming in with the catch and delivering it straight to the restaurant.

There are hostels and campgrounds in the area for travellers who like to stay closer to the beach, but regardless of where you sleep, stay on the beach to watch the sunset at least one evening.

La Virgen

South of Bahía Inglesa, in the Atacama Region, La Virgen is named for the rock formations that seem to resemble the Virgin Mary – that are said to give her protection to the area. Brilliant white sand offsets the turquoise water, suggesting that Mary couldn’t have picked a prettier spot to bless. Getting to the beach requires a long drive through the Atacama Desert before arriving at this somewhat secluded area that has campsites and huts for rent right on the beach. Nearby sand dunes are popular for sandboarding and dune buggying.

The water can be cold much of the time, but with the warm sand and sun it’s easy to stay warm. A single restaurant provides food and the beach has other amenities such as showers and toilets. As this is in the desert, there are very few rainy days and not much shade for those without beach umbrellas.

You can stay in the nearby town, but most people prefer waking up to the amazing, clear view of the morning and watching the sun set over the water at night.

Anakena and Ovahe

With its sparkling white coral sands and a backdrop of those cool ahus (stone platforms, often topped with those iconic statues of Easter Island) and palm trees, Anakena is both beautiful and fascinating. Much of the coastline of Easter Island is rocky, and Anakena is one of only two sandy beaches.

Ovahe, the other walkable beach on Easter Island is equally beautiful with pink sand and deep blue waters, but it has stronger tides. The beach is at the foot of a volcano and a nearby cave is fun to explore when the tides make swimming dangerous.

Both beaches offer phenomenal snorkeling, scuba and fishing in addition to feeling as if you’ve stepped into a postcard of paradise. Easter Island is full of archeological and geological wonders that can fill any extra time in a vacation. An extensive cave system can be explored by novices and some of the natural recovery areas are accessible by foot or horseback only. A permanent village on the island provides all necessities, including rental bicycles, motor bikes and vehicles.

Playa Blanca

Playa Blancahttps://www.flickr.com/photos/miguel_angel_labarca/ Although small, this 500 metre beach located between Tongoy and Guanaqueros is a favourite for local families and one of the most beautiful in the Coquimbo Region. The town of Tongoy is close enough that it’s a comfortable place to stay if you want to take advantage of the many hotels there. Cabins and a campsite near the beach are a bit more rustic, but perfect for early swimmers and those looking for the peaceful crash of waves on a nearly empty beach.

The surfing is good there and swimming is okay, if a little cold and rough. Sun and sand are perfect for relaxing and when the locals return home the beach becomes a quiet place to enjoy the sunset and listen to the rhythm of the ocean.

 


Have you bummed it on a beach in Chile? 
Which is your all-time fave? 
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