Riding the wave

Maitencillo on its way to becoming Chile’s new surf paradise

A new “surf-only” zone on the popular El Abanico beach could attract more surfers than ever to the pretty beach town.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 Category: Sport - Tourism
Maitencillo will have Chile’s first “surfers-only” zone. (Photo by chausinho/Flickr) Maitencillo will have Chile’s first “surfers-only” zone. (Photo by chausinho/Flickr)

With its long Pacific coastline, Chile already boasts some of South America’s best surf destinations, but there are a whole host of lesser-known gems waiting to be discovered – and next in line is the charming beach town of Maitencillo.

Just a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Santiago, Maitencillo is closer to the Chilean capital than other popular surf destinations like Pichilemu, Antofagasta and, of course, Easter Island. Now it hopes to capitalize on this by creating Chile’s first surfers-only zone on its main beach, Playa El Abanico.

“This is very common in other countries with a professional surf culture. But in Chile, it’s the first of its kind,” said director of surf school Escuela de Surf Maitencillo, Emmanuel Rojas, to La Tercera.

Maitencillo is already home to four surf schools, as well as plenty of rental gear and lodging options. More than 4,000 people came here to surf last year, and El Abanico beach has attracted up to 150 surfers and bodyboarders in a day.

According to Roberto Risoleo, owner of fellow surf school Maitencillo Surf Camp, the new zoning and safety measures could help make surfing even more popular.

“The authorities will have many security measures along the coast, including lifeguards, certification for instructors and a first aid point,” he told The Santiago Times.

The zone will be located on the southern part of El Abanico and is expected to be in operation by December 1, 2011, in time for the southern hemisphere summer.

For information on other places to surf in Chile, check out This is Chile’s guide.

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