Ride big waves in chilly waters at this Pacific coast town, which has a striking blend of ocean and rural landscapes.
First time surfers and experienced riders flock to the seashore of Pichilemu, the Surf Capital of Chile. This resort city is the capital of the Cardenal Caro Province, in the O’Higgins Region. The name Pichilemu is a union of the Mapuche words for little (pichi) and forest (lemu). Come to enjoy the blissed-out charm of a city set between beaches, lakes, mountains and woodland.
Black sand beaches stretch for miles along the city’s coastline. Just a few steps from the center are the long, curving bays of La Puntilla Beach and Infiernillo Beach. The long clean waves of La Puntilla attract beginners. The beach also hosts surf competitions in October and December. To the south is Infiernillo, a great place to watch the sunset from rocky cliffs and see waves reach up to 13 feet (4 meters).
Further south via a dirt road is a dramatic rocky point called Punta de Lobos. This is Chile’s surfing mecca, a designated World Surfing Reserve where tubular waves of over 30 feet (9 meters) are common. A party atmosphere fills the air during the regular surf competitions and continues long into the night at hostels and surf lodges.
Dedicate time to exploring pretty squares and historical attractions in the city center. Among them is Plaza Arturo Prat and the Old Train Station. Palm-shaded pathways wind around lush lawns at Parque Ross. Agustin Ross Cultural Center, set inside a former casino, hosts art exhibitions and concerts. Walk amid a forest of tall eucalyptus, palm and pine trees at the Bosque Municipal.
Find more interesting sights within a 30-minute drive from Pichilemu. Learn about indigenous crafts at the Rural Kid Museum in Ciruelos. Visit Molino de Agua de Pañul, a disused watermill nestled within lush greenery.
Pichilemu is about 125 miles (200 kilometers) to the southwest of Santiago. Get here via intercity bus or rented car. Summertime is mild here, winter is cool and the water is always cold, but you’ll find surfers here year round.