Pichilemu is the perfect weekend getaway for anyone based in Santiago, or has a few spare days and is looking to do a bit of exploring before flying out from the capital. A must for surfers, or anyone in need of the beach.
How to get to Pichilemu?
Buses leave regularly from Terminal San Borja, and tickets are easily bought on the day, or online through websites such as recorridos.cl or busbus.com. Be careful though, as sometimes recorridos.cl doesn´t accept payments from international cards. Tickets brought a week in advance, for a feria weekend (national holiday) cost 8000CLP each way (around £9, or $12USD.) We bought ours online as we were unsure how popular the route would be on the feria, but both buses (13.50 on Saturday and 8am Monday morning) had plenty of space to stretch out.
Where to Stay?
The journey lasts three hours, and you´re dropped a little ways from the centre of Pichilemu, a short walk to the beach and several larger hostels. A little further (15 minutes walk) from the center, Hostal Patiperro have their own pool, if the two minutes to the sea is just too much for you. Kom Hostel is the hippiest alternative, right in the center, with Yoga and surfing and airy spaces. You can even camp out on La Puntilla for around 7000CLP a night – prices vary depending on the season.
We stayed at Hostel Royal Surf: It took us ages to find, so don´t get distracted by all of the different Hostels with Surf in their name! Tucked away behind a small front courtyard, Royal Surf is run by a Señora, her son and his friends. This group of dudes live there full time, with connections to surf schools, tours, and can cook up some of the best Asado (bbq). The wifi doesn´t quite reach the dorms, but the spacious rooms and hallways are full of beautiful plants and ornate furniture. We paid 9000CLP a night in May, just after high season.
Things to do:
First things first, head down to the beaches. You can get there in five minutes from almost anywhere, and can walk along the coast to reach the other side of town. There is plenty of street food on offer; incredible sea food, and some of the biggest churros you have ever seen in your life.
One way to get down to the beach is through the garden of the Centro Cultural Agustín Ross, a site that hosts exhibitions, art and events, as well as historical information about Pichilemu. The garden is balcony of palm trees, gazebos and red and white balustrades, which lines the top of the hill. Before you head down, try Pizzeria Ross, a lovely family place, with a great deal for two on Italian-style crispy pizzas.
The weather in Pichilemu is volatile, turning from bright sunny days to misty afternoons, so as we made our way around the point to the south of the town, harsh winds blasted the black sands, and sent the already impressive waves cascading over the rocky shore. Pichilemu is a surf haven, but the rocky views out to sea could capture anyone´s heart.
Punta de Lobos:
Punta de Lobos is one of the few sites in the world that has wholeheartedly taken my breath away. We arrived on a miserable grey afternoon, where you couldn´t spot the horizon for the clouds, and the wet air soaked through our coats. Yet, we stood for hours, gazing off the cliff tops at roaring tides, red cacti, and the insane surfers sitting in the white water, waiting their turn.
The cliffs were busy, but not obnoxiously so; a crowd big enough to draw out a few coffee and food trucks, without feeling like you´re in a theme park. A theme park where the main attraction is looking out to sea. The cliffs are dry and grassy, covered in cacti and protected indigenous flora, but the rocks at the bottom were as black as the water, with huge jets of foam blasting through them as each wave hit. There´s a small hut to get yourself slightly out of the wind (the windows are glassless, so you´re in no way truly protected) a few bathrooms, and a small information centre that we were fine without visiting.
Surfers made their way up on to the cliffs to get back in their cars, and explained the different areas which were appropriate for different levels of skill, and how they avoided being smashed on the rocks. There are two giant stacks that break off into the sea, which, from end of the point, form the shape of a perfect sphynx. She guards a slightly less rough patch from the brunt of the ocean, for the less practised boarder.
Surfing and Hostels:
You can stay out by Punta de Lobos at Hostels such as La Sirena Insolente, Hostal Punta De Lobos, or rent one of the many cabañas in the area. Hostels have connections to companies that will organise surf trips for you, or rent out bicycles. Other Surf schools that go out to Punta de Lobos include: Oceanos, El Diamante, and any shop you can find on the seafronts downtown.
It will only cost you $1000 CLP per person to get to Punta de Lobos from central Pichilemu, and it´s well worth the trip. You can take a local collectivo (clearly marked with the signs on the roof of the cab) from most of the main drags in town, including Agustín Ross Edwards.
Cahuil is a beautiful little lagoon by the beach. It’s a spot for fishing and swimming, and where locals collect artisanal salts. It´s nickname is ‘Linda Playa’ and year round locals and tourists come to experience some peace and quiet, around 12k out of central Pichilemu.
You can stay out at the Surf Farm Hostel to be nearer Cahuil. They can hook you up with all of your surfing, horse-riding and wandering requirements.
The main drag of Pichilemu is Agustín Ross Edwards, and the end closest to Daniel Orútzar is where you will find restaurants, empanaderias, plenty of seafood and the bottelerias. There are a few clubs here many places that sell surprisingly good sushi during the day transform for the night. You can also find some good fare along the seafront. Puente Holandés has great views of the sea and the sunset, with roaring fires and blankets for the cold, and a pub dog to warm your heart. They make an excellent dry Pisco Sour. Next door you can find Secreto, a restaurant during the day, which occasionally throws techno and electronic parties. Entry goes up in price as the night goes on, but can be anything from 10,000 to 15,000 CLP.
Why Visit Pichilemu?
Overall, Pichilemu is a cheap and gorgeous weekend getaway, or a friendly place to set up shop and really hone your surfing skills. With great seafood, and a lively scene for such a small town, even in off season, Pichilemu is bound to offer up some fun. For a real retreat you can head out to Cahuil or Punta de Lobos, or stay in town to really get the feel of pacific coastal life. Only three hours from Santiago, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t.