1. The coastal deserts at Pan de Azúcar National Park
This northern nature reserve straddles the border of Antofagasta and Atacama and features no less than 100,000 acres of beach. Four campsites offer the incredible experience of sleeping under the stars on impeccably white sand which is reason enough to place it high on your bucket list of beaches in Chile. Spread over more than 400 square kilometres, the park is home to a wealth of wildlife, including guanacos (wild cousins of llama), foxes, otters and pelicans. Take a boat trip from the fishing village of La Caleta around the Isla Pan de Azúcar to meet the park’s hundreds of Humboldt penguins.
An aerial view over the coastline of the Pan de Azúcar National Park © Elisa Locci / Shutterstock
2. The golden stretches of Viña del Mar
Viña del Mar is Chile’s favourite upscale resort. It’s where wealthy Santiaguinos come to relax, with Playa las Salinas and Playa Reñaca two of the most popular beaches in Chile. Playa las Salinas is a good choice for beach-goers with children as it’s protected from the wind and strong currents by rocky headlands. While the waters are a bit rougher, you’ll find more of a buzz at Playa Reñaca. Backed by exclusive apartment buildings in the forested hills above, there’s more than a touch of glamour to the cafes and boutiques on its promenade. Visit in February (that’s high summer in this corner of the world), and you’ll catch the city’s International Song Festival, an event with the accolade of the longest running music festival in the whole of Latin America.
A quite morning at the beach in Viña del Mar © Nataliya Hora / Shutterstock
3. The sands of time at Playa Anakena on Easter Island
While the majority of the coastline around the mystical and remote Easter Island is rocky, Playa Anakena is all soft white coral sands. Its calm waters make for idea swimming conditions and you’ll regret it if you don’t bring a bathing suit. Framed by swaying coconut palms, it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful setting for the island’s iconic moai statues, the enigmatic figures carved by the Rapa Nui people. With traces of human settlement dating from as early as 1200 CE, Anakena is thought to be the oldest inhabited place on the island. More modern signs of life include a handy car park right at the entrance of the beach as well as small kitchens serving local specialities such as tuna empanadas and po’e, a traditional dish made with pumpkin and flour.
Easter Island’s iconic Seven Moai behind paddlers and loungers on Anakena Beach © Karol Kozlowski / Shutterstock