With more than 4.300 km of coastline, Chile is a country with innumerable beaches worth visiting. It is not necessary to travel to Brasil or the Caribbean to enjoy beautiful turquoise waters under the sun. The north of the country has some of the most beautiful and attractive beaches. White sand, crystalline and warm waters and a pristine natural environment are some of the elements that stand out in the selection of 8 beaches presented here. Take your tent, backpack and swimming suit and dive into the adventure of exploring the northern coastline!Share this selection:
Northern CoastlineBeaches located in the northern coast of Chile have warmer waters compared to the central coast beaches. They don't get to be as warm as the Caribbean waters, but in hot summer days this can be an advantage since they are more refreshing. The northern coastal weather is in addition good throughout the year, with good temperatures and scarce precipitations. Beaches selected here stand out for their beauty and natural environment, therefore beaches located in cities like La Serena, Iquique and Arica don't appear here despite being excellent places to enjoy refreshing waters under the sun.Regarding mobilization, you will almost always have access to these beaches by private vehicle and, to a lesser degree, public transport. Hitchhiking on the other hand is a little more complicated in some cases. Hitchhiking in northern Chile is an alternative, although you have to keep in mind that distances between cities are much longer than in central and southern regions. There are long sections of road where there is absolutely nothing. Water and protection from the sun are other factors to be considered. If you plan to hitchhike, try always to do so in gas stations. For more tips and advice, check the Precautions and Recommendations section at the end of this article.
Los PiquerosThis beach is located 30 km north of Chañaral, in the Pan de Azucar National Park. It stands out for its crystalline waters and its spectacular natural environment. It is a quiet and seldom visited beach as well, ideal to disconnect and enjoy the particular beauty of the desert landscape in the north while having a refreshing bath. Other activities in this place include fishing, diving and observation of fauna. In other areas of the park you can do excursions and boat rides.The park, and the Los Piqueros beach area in particular, have campsites with basic services. The Pan de Azucar Lodge campsite (which also offers cabin rental) has a cost of CLP 7.500 per night per person. Costs and campsite characteristics can be checked on their website. There are other alternatives for camping in Chañaral as well as in other areas of the park. Regarding access to the beach and the park, it is detailed in our Pan de Azucar National Park article.
Bahia InglesaThis place is located 81 km west of Copiapo and 5 km from Caldera. It is known for its white sand beaches, low slope and calm turquoise waters, as well as the immense desert that surrounds it. Some of these beaches are La Piscina, Las Machas, Blanca and El Chuncho. These are without a doubt some of the most beautiful beaches in Chile, always appearing among the best ones in every ranking. This is, for the same reason, a well-known locality and relatively crowded with a wide variety of accommodation alternatives for visitors: campsites, hotels, restaurants and summer houses.One of the cheapest ways to spend the night in Bahia Inglesa is in a campsite, where it is possible to find sites for CLP 5.000 per person. You can find more accommodation options in Caldera, 5 km to the north. To get to Bahia Inglesa you can take intercity buses and collective taxis from Copiapo, which leave daily from the city. If you go by car, you have to take Route 5 and take the Bahia Inglesa detour.
ChorrillosThis singular beach of grey sands is located 18 km south of Bahia Inglesa along the coast route. Chorrillos is a beach surrounded by cliffs sculpted by erosion and covered in abundant vegetation, thanks to subterranean water streams. It is a landscape taken from another planet. It is a seldom-visited place as well since it is only accesible walking along the shore (at least 1.500 mt from the end of the road), which makes this beach an ideal place to disconnect and enjoy nature. Chorrillos is without a doubt a beach worth visiting and exploring.The beach is located in an isolated place, therefore there are no accomodation alternatives. You can find campsites and cabins in Bahia Inglesa or Caldera, the closest localities. To get to this beach you have to go by private vehicle along the coastal route and take route C-320, which ends a few meters off the coast. From there you must walk around 1.500 mt to the beach.
Playa La VirgenThis beach is located 70 km from Copiapo and is considered by many the best beach in Chile. It is famous for its crystalline and warm turquoise waters, its fine white sands and the arid desert that surrounds it. A jewel in the desert. This beach owes its name to a rock formation along the way to the beach which resembles the Virgin. Diving, fishing and hiking are some of the activities you can do here.This is, unfortunately, a relatively expensive place if you plan to spend the night. The campsite near the beach has a cost of CLP 42.000 per site for a maximum of 6 people. An alternative is to find campsites and accommodation in nearby localities like Puerto Viejo (7 km to the north). If you go to this beach remember to bring potable water! To get to Playa La Virgen you must first get to Bahia Inglesa. From the latter you must take the coastal route heading south, sign-posted to Puerto Viejo (35 km) or Las Machas (3 km). The road is in good conditions (first 6 km paved). When you reach the beach, keep in mind there is a private parking area and one which is free of cost outside the private enclosure. There are tours that leave from Bahia Inglesa, but no public transport options.
Chañaral de AceitunoThis small fishermen cove is located in the southwest corner of the Freirina commune, 128 km from the city of Vallenar. Unlike the other destinations in this selection, Chañaral de Aceituno doesn't stand out for the quality of its beaches. You won't find white sand nor crystalline and warm waters here. This is a destination that stands out for being an incredible place for whale watching. Every year, during the estival season (December to March), different species of whales gather at this place, among them the blue whale, humpback whale, fin whale and less frequently the Minke and southern right whales. Chañaral de Aceituno is however an attractive destination throughout the year, with a permanent population of dolphins and otters, as well as sea lions and Humboldt penguins in Chañaral island facing the cove. The boat ride, which includes whale watching and the trip around Chañaral island has a cost of CLP 10.000 per person, incredibly cheap when compared to other destinations that offer a similar spectacle. The cove is an excellent place to enjoy fresh fish and seafood as well.This destination has a good accommodation offer. You can find campsites for a cost of around CLP 10.000 the site per night, and cabins that, in case you are traveling with a group of 4 or more, can cost less than CLP 10.000 per person per night. Regarding access to the cove, you can get there by public transport or private vehicle. First you have to take Route 5, then take the detour to Domeyko (Route C-500), a 78 km gravel road in good conditions. Alternatively you can take a bus from Vallenar or La Serena to the cove for an approximate cost of CLP 5.000 one-way. In this case it is recommended to check the buses' days and schedules, as well as reserving a seat.
Damas IslandThis island is one of the three that conform the Pingüino de Humboldt National Reserve, being the only one where visitor landing is allowed. It is located 5 km west of Punta de Choros, 114 km from La Serena. Stands out for its paradisiacal white sand and turquoise water beaches , as well as its incredible fauna and natural environment. Here you can observe Humboldt penguins and sea lions in their natural habitat, and if you are lucky, dolphins along the way to the island. This area is protected by CONAF (Chilean government branch in charge of national parks and reserves), entity that manages the entrance, schedules and visits to Damas island. It is allowed to visit it only a few hours, which ensures minimal impact on the local environment. Time on the island can be spent bathing, sunbathing and enjoying flora and fauna observation. Punta de Choros fishermen offer the trip to the island for a cost of around CLP 11.000 per person.You can't spend the night in the island, but there are camping and accommodation alternatives in Punta de Choros and its surroundings. Campsites, hostels and cabins are relatively expensive in Punta de Choros (campsites have a cost of around CLP 9.000 per person or more). If you have a short budget there are alternatives in nearby localities, like Quebrada Los Choros where you can find campsites for CLP 5.000 per person. To get to Punta de Choros you can take a van or bus from La Serena, or get by private vehicle. The first alternative has a cost of around CLP 4.500 one-way. Fernando Contreras (+56 9 68134355) is one of the people that offer this service. Asking for schedules and availability is recommended. Alternatively you can take tours offered by tourist agencies, which include transportation, lunch and boat trip to the island. If you go by private vehicle you must take Route 5. From La Serena advance on this route around 75 km heading north and take the Los Choros detour to the coast (Route D-110-C). Then you have to continue 40 km to Punta de Choros.
TotoralilloTotoralillo, with 2 km of beaches, is located 17 km south of Coquimbo and 25 km south of La Serena. It is a small peninsula that divides two beautiful beaches of soft and white sands, as well as green turquoise waters. One of them has a family atmosphere, ideal to relax and enjoy a refreshing bath. The other, an ideal beach for surfers. There are several artisan stands and places to eat good and cheap in Totoralillo. Fishing, diving and photography are other traditional activities of this place.There are several cabin and campsite alternatives. You can find campsites as cheap as CLP 5.000 per person. You can get to Totoralillo by public transport and private vehicle. Buses leave from La Serena and Coquimbo to this beach. Alternatively, if you take a bus to Coquimbo or La Serena (from the south), you can get off the bus in the Totoralillo detour of Route 5. Only 2 km have to be walked from this point.
Playa BlancaFinally we have this beautiful beach located between Guanaqueros and Tongoy, 48 km from Coquimbo and 60 km from La Serena. Playa Blanca is a beach that stands out for its white sands (hence its name, "white beach") as well as its warm and crystalline waters. It is a calm place that offer spectacular landscapes and the opportunity to disconnect. In addition to being a beach suitable for bathing, it is an important diving and fishing destination.In the Tongoy-Playa Blanca-Guanaqueros area you can find several accommodation alternatives, from CLP 5.000 campsites to others considerably more expensive. To reach Playa Blanca you can take buses from Coquimbo or La Serena, which have a cost of around CLP 1.500 one-way. Alternatively you can go on private vehicle, taking the coast detour to Tongoy in Route 5.
Precautions and Recommendations
1. Best season: November to December. The northern coast has good weather throughout the year. However, temperatures increase during the summer, season in which it is more attractive to go to the beach. For the same reason there are beaches that are swarmed with visitors in January and February. It is ideal to visit them before this period.2. Mobilization: If you plan to hitchhike, try always to do so in gas stations. Avoid getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, distances in the north cannot be walked. Having a woman in the group make it much more easier, increasing the probability of drivers stopping to take your group. If you decide to use public transport, check their availability and schedules for less frequented destinations by this means of transportation, like Punta de Choros. Finally, if you travel with a private vehicle always check the fuel gauge and stop in every gas station to fill the tank, since there are few gas stations along Route 5 (which you will probably be using).3. Clothing: Bring light clothing to use during the day and warm clothing to use at night, since there is a considerable day-night temperature variation.4. Accommodation: In general, campsites are the cheapest alternative. However, there are cases where renting a cabin can be even cheaper. Always quote prices.5. Trash: DON'T leave any kind of trash or garbage. Also don't interfere in any way with the local flora and fauna. Be a responsible backpacker and contribute to make sure nature is well cared for!