Chile’s best beaches part three: The central coast

  As the long summer enters its final weeks, we run through the best beaches in central Chile, all within easy reach of the capital.

Memories of winter are surely now a thing of the past. Months into Chile’s stretching summer, there’s no excuse for not taking advantage of the weather and getting down to one of the myriad beaches across the length of the country. However, for those still striving to get a little more beach or top up their tan before the season draws to a close, here is the third and final This is Chile guide to the best coastal hideaways in the country.

This week we explore the central region. Although undoubtedly the best-known and most visited chunk of coastline, there are still plenty of hidden gems and spots of raw beauty to be found.

Las Docas

Take a southward bus from Valparaíso, carry on past Playa Ancha and then disembark in Laguna Verde. From here you still have a walk ahead of you, but its worth it for the view you get upon arrival. Las Docas is a treasure trove of beach delights: Hidden from most vacationers in a cove sits a golden beach that by day plays host to easy-going holidaymakers then, at night, transforms into the perfect spot for a bonfire with friends on the beach. The relaxed attitude to camping makes this a great spot for an overnight trip as you can sleep just meters from the water’s edge.

This is also a beach with history: Las Docas’ cave is believed to have been a hiding place for pirates and has been the subject of numerous treasure hunting trips by eager gold seekers hoping to recover lost loot.

Punta de Lobos

A few miles from the popular town of Pichilemu lies the rocky outcrop of Punta de Lobos. You’re best sticking in town if you want to lie on the beach, but for those hoping to catch some waves in one of the world’s recognized hotspots for big wave surfing you can’t do much better than Punta de Lobos.

Earlier this year, the area was made a World Surfing Reserve alongside such renowned spots as Playa Todos Los Santos in Mexico and Manly Beach, Australia.

Reñaca

A short drive north of Viña del Mar, Reñaca is still a busy city beach but it avoids the trappings of its better known sister and combines city convenience with great views and clean sand.

Hugely popular with holidaymakers, the town boasts cabins, restaurants and bars for miles. At night the clubs open up and you can top a day on the sand off with a night on the tiles.

Maitencillo

This huge, stretching beach is a firm favorite for obvious reasons: Great views, a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere and convenience make Maitencillo a no-brainer for those looking for a spot accessible from the capital for a quick weekend break.

Those looking to stay that little bit longer are advised to check out the plentiful cabins for rent, but remember to book ahead because Maitencillo is Chile’s worst kept beach secret!

Horcón

At the other end of the spectrum is Horcón. Even for those with their own vehicle, arriving at this gorgeous, white sanded beach requires a little bit of leg work. The beach is accessible down an occasionally steep, narrow path that winds over the steep surrounding hills, finally leaving you on a secluded, beautiful stretch of sand with few equals.