A few weeks back, for Easter weekend, a few friends and I escaped the extreme hustle and bustle of Santiago with a trip to coastal Pichilemu or as the locals call it, Pichi. The entire trip was a pretty sporadic, last minute decision, and I have to admit, Pichilemu was not our first choice destination. Being the procrastinators that we are, we waited and waited to plan our long weekend, and by the time we sat down to get things rolling, most of the places nearing the top of our lists were already booked up. Oops.
The option we were left with: Pichilemu. And, boy am I glad we went.
Pichilemu was just the kind of break from crazy city life that I so desperately needed. The tiny, rather dusty coastal city is located less than 300km southeast of Santiago and is known internationally as Chile’s surf destination. It’s a laid back, unpretentious beach town, radiating a cool, alternative vibe. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a dingy little surfer town, streets lined with colorful shabby shacks, plentiful food carts and street stands, all walking distance from expansive dark sandy beaches.
It was the perfect recipe for a relaxed, carefree trip.
Since I’ve had quite the hard time finding information [in English and in Spanish] about desirable destinations close to Santiago, I figured I’d share what we did, how we got there, where we ate and so forth, for any other travelers interested in making the journey.
Here’s your guide to Pichilemu!
No, Pichilemu is not the closest beach to Santiago. If you’re looking for convenience, I’d suggest Santiago’s most popular coastal destination, Viña del Mar. So, you may wonder, why should I make the trip all the way to Pichilemu, when there is something closer?
For one Pichilemu is basically a polar opposite to expensive, polished Viña. Pichilemu may be further and a bit rougher around the edges, but it’s also cheaper, smaller and most importantly, it’s THE PLACE to surf.
How to get to Pichilemu
From Santiago, the trip to Pichilemu by bus, takes about 4 hours. You can buy your tickets ahead of time (recommended during high season) online. There are two bus companies that offer trips from Santiago to Pichilemu, Pullman and TranSantin.
Although Pullman well though of and better known bus company throughout Chile, I suggest using TranSantin, as they offer shorter, direct buses to Pichilemu from Santiago’s Terminal San Borja (Metro Estación Central). We went with TranSantin and had a pleasant experience.
Website to book bus tickets: Recorrido.cl
*The website lists the trip as 03h 20m, but I would budget a little more time.
Price: ~$7.000 CLP or $10 USD One-way (ida)
*If you’d like a return ticket, choose the option ida y vuelta.
When to go
Chilean rumor has it that anytime is the best time to go to Pichilemu, as the surf is good all year round. Of course, if you’d like to avoid freezing your buns off, I’d suggest going during summer. Remember Chile’s warmer months are opposite the Northern Hemisphere’s, making the ideal time to visit December-March!
I’ve also heard that Pichilemu goes all out for Fiestas Patrias in September, an extremely important festival in Chilean culture celebrating their freedom from Spanish rule. **If you’d like to go during this festival book months in advance and be prepared to pay a hefty sum.
What to see and do in Pichilemu
The number one reason that travelers from all over the world visit Pichilemu is of course, to surf. Although this little city is Chile’s surfing hub [so they would have every inclination to jack up rates], prices to rent gear are extremely reasonable! I’d actually consider it ridiculously cheap. I learned to surf in California, where the prices were pretty embarrassingly high!
To rent a board, all you have to do is walk up on the street along the main beach. You will pass countless little surf shops, offering wetsuits and boards for less than 10.000 CLP, for the entire day! You can also book surf lessons, go boogey boarding, or simply rent a wetsuit to make the frigid water fit for a swim!
Punto de los Lobos.
Punto de Lobos is a beach about 6-7KM from the center of Pichilemu that you can reach by bus, taxi or car. It is known as one of the best places to practice surfing in the area as there are waves of different sizes for surfers of all skill levels. It is also a more scenic beach than Pichilemu’s “Playa Principal” as it is surrounded by cliffs and odd rocks.
For those less inclined to surf, you can still take advantage of Pichilemu’s beautiful expansive beaches. There is plenty of room to sit, relax, spread out and, as Chileans would say, take the sun.
Pichilemu is known for it’s crazy good, wide selection of empanadas! Seriously they are everywhere! See below for where to find the best ones!
Where to stay
Unfortunately, as I briefly mentioned above, I booked my weekend in Pichilemu a bit late, and therefore didn’t have the best choice of hostels. I ended up staying in Surf, Eat, Sleep, a very small surfer style shack, with only a few bunk-bed style rooms. At $10 USD a night, I can’t complain and it really turned out to be okay, but to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend it and think you could find a lot better.
We visited some friends in another hostel, Royal Surf, which was bigger, had an awesome location and more of a friendly, party atmosphere. Again, this hostel wasn’t the newest, or nicest, but it sure seemed like a lot of fun!
If you’re looking to stay in a hostel I suggest simply browsing through HostelWorld, checking reviews and choosing one close to the main drag, Costanera Street!
What to Pack
Pichilemu is a very relaxed, casual town; therefore nothing fancy should be necessary (unless of course, you know of a specific event ahead of time). My wardrobe consisted of beachy, baggy, laid back comfy clothes. Of course a bathing suit is also needed!
Keep in mind that evening and night temperatures drastically drop, so I suggest bringing some warmer apparel as well, ie. pants, sweaters and maybe even a light jacket.
*Luggage/locker Lock– If you’re planning to stay in a hostel, I’d suggest bringing a lock. The town is so carefree that some hostel rooms don’t even have doors. Better to be safe than sorry.
Where to Eat
El Quincho del Ross
Evaristo Merino 35
This little hidden restaurant is a bit tricky to find, but very worth it! Across from Pichilemu’s “Parque Ross” through the fería, or market, you will find Quincho del Ross’s outdoor patio seating. Go right up to the counter, choose your ingredients and watch as each Empanada is rolled fresh and baked outside in one of their clay ovens.
La Casa de las Empanadas
Aníbal Pinto 277
Known as another classic Empanada stop in Pichilemu, this roadside restaurant stand is located close to the city’s main strip and offers over 30 varieties of deep fried deliciousness!
Calle Agustín Ross, 9
Recommended by both locals and travelers for it’s no frills Chilean cooking and daily fresh “Carnes y Mariscos.” The menu is expansive and very reasonably priced. I suggest trying their seafood soup and fish or meat a la pobre, or poor man’s style, a typical Chilean way of cooking served with a potatoes and a fried egg on top!
Anibal Pinto 96-C
Real coffee!!! Yeah, that’s right, not the Nescafé brown soaked water you’re probably used to in Chile. You can even get a cup to go! This cute little concept consists of a café and ice cream stand around the corner from each other. Awesome coffee, awesome ice cream, awesome service. Need I say more?
Where to go out
Avenida Costanera, 1039
Pichilemu’s most popular dance club with live DJS and beachfront terraces.
Eugenio Díaz Lira 139
Chilled out little local spot with dance floor and bonfires right on the beach.
Hope you now feel equipped to have a good time in Pichi!!
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Have you ever been to Pichilemu? Does it look like a place you’d like to visit?
Linkin up with Christie for Travel Tuesday today!!