If ever there was proof that God is a goofy foot, Southern Chile is it. Endless sand-bottom points peel seemingly forever in front of rugged, beautiful backdrops that you have to see to believe. Some points are rippable, others are top to bottom barrels…and then there is Punta Lobos, one of the best left points in the world at six foot and one of the best big wave spots in the world at 30. Set in wine country, with a friendly population and a relaxed backpacker feel, this is one of the most enjoyable cold-water surf destinations going. (*For the sake of this guide, “Southern Chile” refers to everything south of Santiago.)
The Surf: Left points as far as the eye can see, typically breaking over a combination of sand and rocks. Southern Chile has something for everyone, with waves that rank beginners can learn on and others that only the world’s heaviest hell chargers would want anything to do with.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
The Season: Chile is one of the most consistent stretches of coast in the world, with around 300 days of swell per year. In other words, there isn’t really an off-season. That being said, large souths are most common in winter (between May and August), but inclement weather and adverse wind conditions can also be common the further into winter you go.
The Vibe: While the breaks way south are pretty uncrowded (and often empty), the Pichilemu region has a well-developed surf scene and crowd pressures can be a problem. That having been said, the Chilean people are some of the friendliest and most welcoming in the world, so as long as you come with respect and a good attitude, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Things To Do: If wine is your thing, you’ll enjoy the wineries and vineyards in the region. There is epic skiing and snowboarding only a few hours away, and if you are into trekking/camping/rock climbing or any other form of outdoor adventure, Patagonia is to your south.
Where To Stay: Pichilemu is a town set up for backpackers and surfers, so you will have no problem finding hostels and surf camps at fair rates. Farther south, you would be wise to take a tent.
What To Bring: A shortboard and step-up, and a rhino chaser if you are coming for Punta Lobos. Thick rubber—a 4/3 with booties, gloves and a hood is a minimum, and in winter you’ll probably want more. Cold weather gear for on land would be good as well. Bring a bit of cash too—although Chile isn’t the most expensive country you’ll ever visit, it isn’t the cheapest either.
Getting There: Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago is the main gateway into Chile. From there, you’ll be looking at a road trip that could range from five hours (to Pichilemu) to 20 or more, depending on how far south you want to go. Visa’s are available upon arrival, but be aware that citizens of many countries will have to pay a “reciprocity tax” when they arrive in Santiago. Airport code: SCL.