Chile’s best beaches part one: The south
The sun is out, the temperature is soaring and holidays have arrived. Here’s our guide to the best beaches in Chile’s southern regions.
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
The spectacular Lago Llanquihue has numerous picturesque beaches where you can relax and take in the incredible sight of several volcanoes. Photo via @chilexplora/Twitter
Whether you prefer to stick with the crowds and enjoy all the amenities that come with a popular beach or you’re happy to brave a little more travel and adventure to reach a near-deserted, personal strip of paradise, Chile has all the options for the perfect summer getaway.
With thousands of miles of cost, though, there’s a lot to cover so to start things off This is Chile brings you the best beaches in the south, focusing on the regions of Los Lagos, Los Ríos and Araucanía.
Rich green forests and dunes run right up to the coast in Loncoyen before giving way to broad, sweeping beaches and the cold chill of the southern seas. This idyllic spot is great for relaxing but also perfect for those who like to break up lazy hours sunbathing with walks along the coast and, for the bravehearted, swims in the refreshingly cool waters.
In the Los Ríos Region, Loncoyen is a 15 minute walk from the town of Niebla, itself an easy 30 minute trip by bus or car from Valdivia, a lively historical city and regional transport hub.
Chile isn’t known as “the land of volcanoes” for nothing, and many of the southern regions’ best beaches sit on the shore of lakes overlooked by these spectacular, snow-capped behemoths.
Sitting at the base of the majestic Volcán Villarrica, Licán Ray is proving itself a hot choice this year as the usually sleepy village receives an influx of sun-craving holidaymakers, keen to take in the stunning setting and family-friendly atmosphere.
The volcanic rock here means the sand takes on a distinctive black color, while the calm waters lend themselves to activities such as catamaran excursions and rafting.
Regular buses to Licán Ray depart from Villarrica daily and take approximately one hour.
The vast Lago Llanquihue is dotted with pretty villages all with spectacular views of the lake and the unmissable volcanoes that circle it. Although they can get crowded, these beaches are a good option for families or anyone prioritizing easy access. Colonial-era towns such as Frutillar, Puerto Octay and Puerto Varas make for pleasant diversion from an idle day on the beach.
The Lago Llangquihué area is best reached from nearby Puerto Montt frequently serviced by long distance buses from across the country. Alternatively, fly into the local airport and catch a short bus to the lake towns.
Those willing to invest a little more time are highly recommended to visit Petrohué within the Peréz Rosales National Park. Close to the famous waterfalls of the same name, this secluded beach sits on the edge of a vast crystal clear lake, ringed by snow-capped mountains and the mighty Volcán Osorno.
Another attraction of Petrohué is the ample hiking available throughout the park, most spectacularly around the base of the volcano. And for those with plenty of time, there is always the option of crossing into Argentina by boat!
Camping is available, or you can splash out and stay at the luxurious lakeside lodge. Alternatively, Petrohué can make a great day trip from tourist hubs such as Puerto Varas (approximately 1 hour 30 minutes).
Look out for more guides to Chile’s many great beaches over the next few weeks.