The beaches along Chile’s Central Coast, just a few hours west of the captial, Santiago, offer something for everyone – from the international surf mecca of Pichilemu to the arts, culture and ramshackle charm of Valparaíso and the glitzy resorts, nightclubs and casino of Viña del Mar.
But if it’s a quiet seaside getaway that you’re after, this stretch of coastline has you covered as well, and for charming fishing villages, it’s hard to beat the Caleta Horcón, a tiny town of beach bungalows that tumble down to a rocky bay, lined with colorful fishing boats.
The town is known as being the hippie hotspot of the Central Coast and during the summer months, it is swarming with young Chileans from the alternative set who want something a little less slick than Viña del Mar, and a little quieter than Valparaíso – not to mention the artisans that ply their trade during the high season.
But for the rest of the year, not much happens in Horcón, and you’re likely to be sharing the seafood restaurants and beach with only fisherman waiting around, checking on conditions before they head out for their next catch.
Horcón also shelters even more secluded beaches, like Playa Cua Cua, sheltered by forested ridges and accessed by a rickety boardwalk, as well as Chile’s only nudist beach, Playa Luna.
To get to Horcón by car from Santiago, there are two options, the most direct is to take the Panamericana highway, Route 5, north until the F-20 highway, just north of Nogales, and turn left.
Perhaps the more scenic alternative is to take highway 68 to Valparaíso, through the Casablanca Valley, and then the F-30-E north through the beach resorts that line this stretch of the Pacific.
You can also reach Horcón by public transport, in the winter, take a bus from the Terminal de Buses Santiago in front of Metro Universidad de Santiago to Quintero. Ask to get out at the Ventanas intersection, and from there, take a colectivo (a shared taxi) to Horcón. In the summer, you can take a bus directly to Horcón from the San Borja Bus Terminal (San Francisco de Borja 122, Metro Estación Central).
You can also easily take buses from both Valparaíso – on Errázuriz street, which runs the length of the city along the water – and from Plaza Colombia in Viña del Mar.