When someone mentions Surfing in Southern Chile, long left-hand points probably aren’t what you first think of.
When my partner first suggested that we go on a surf trip to Chile it certainly wasn’t the case for me. I pictured Patagonian mountains, glaciers and the roaring forties, anything but picturesque surf. I grew up in Tasmania, so I don’t mind surfing with a decent bit of rubber. I’m quite accustomed to getting excited in big winter storms with howling offshore winds. But the surf needs to be good enough to motivate you to put on a wet cold wetsuit on a rainy day in the middle of winter. Needless to say, I love an adventure and jumped on board the idea straight away.
Arriving in Santiago
When we finally arrived in Santiago, we bought a Toyota 4 runner (see how here). We spent a couple of weeks decking it out to be able to live out of. Despite only being a couple of hours from the coast Santiago felt like a world away from the ocean and where we wanted to be. It’s a big city and with all the time needed to sort the car out we were starting to doubt this crazy idea of ours. Were ever going to get on the road and start this adventure surfing in Chile?
Finally Venturing Out of Santiago
There are a few breaks close to the city. Around Vina Del Mar and Valparaiso but with the city crowds and the opportunity for better waves further South the first real spot on our hit list was Puertecillo. A left-hand point nestled below a big headland. The drive in through the never-ending maze of dirt tracks eventually brings you to a steep track down the cliffs. And with any luck, like us, the sight of a perfectly lined up point break and swell lines as far as the eye can see.
As remote as this place seemed, when it turned on everyone seemed to know about it. People would converge on this tiny seaside shanty shack town. The waves were unbelievable. Yet an insane current made getting out pretty nerve racking and it mighty hard work in the water.
As the swell died off
We started to run out of food it was time to move on. We headed for a small fishing wharf. 10kms or so out of the city Constitucion. To our surprise there was a super low-key but brilliant surf camp nestled into the corner of the beach. Friday through Sunday this place was full of Chileans escaping Santiago life. During the week though, we were the only ones here. I’d say it could be a different story in summer however. None the less this spot was such a pleasant surprise. We had only planned to stay a few days but ended up here for over a week.
As the swell gave out and the winds turned, it was time to move on again. We decided to go inland for a few days to take advantage of the incredible mountains and hikes only a short drive away.
Surfing in Punta de lobos and Pichilemu
Heading back to the coast we hit Punta de Lobos, Pichilemu. A spot that needs no introduction to any surfer. If you’ve only heard about one thing in Chile it is probably surfing in Punta de Lobos. Driving into town along the dusty cactus lined streets with ramshackle tin sheds dotted everywhere. It wasn’t what I had expected but after a few days the town had grown on me. By the time we left I had fallen in love with its unpretentious vibe.
There is no doubt that surfing in Punta de Lobos is something special. It is one of the most beautiful spots I have ever surfed. The waters are teeming with all forms of sea life. We were lucky enough to witness seals frolicking among the kelp, many sea birds soaring overhead and dolphins trading waves with surfers.
Getting out here –
Etched this place into my memory. You start by climbing down a steep track at the top of the point. Then it’s paddle across a small surging channel to a rocky island with two 30 meter massifs. From here it’s a slow and slippery walk between the two outcrops to the kelp covered keyhole. Where you nervously wait for a gap in the sets with fellow surfers. When there is lull you quickly scramble to the water’s edge trying not to slip. Afterwards it’s a heart raising paddle to the safety of the channel hoping a rogue Southern Ocean wave doesn’t catch you unawares.
Even on the small days surfing at Punta de Lobos the waves had enough power in them to get my heart racing. But there’s nothing that could possibly beat the incredible raw beauty of this spot.
Continuing South…. surfing in Southern Chile
As we continued south we came to a town called Curanipe with a fun left-hand point. We never got to see it working at it’s full potential as there were too many other fantastic options along this stretch of coast. This region was a dream come true for us with perfect long left-hand point breaks, free beach camping and a couple of good coffee spots.
I managed to score some of the biggest waves and longest rides I have ever had here. We were more than content spending our days exploring this beautiful part of Chile. We would have happily spent the rest of our time here. Sooner or later though, it had to come to an end. When a four-day weekend hit along with the onslaught of weekenders it was all a bit too much for us. We decided to pack up and leave continuing our surfing in southern Chile adventure with the treasured memories we had.
Next on our radar list was a series of 6 remote south facing beaches. Unfortunately sometimes you win some and then sometimes you don’t. With the right swell and winds forecast we thought we were in for another treat. To our utter disappointment and frustration nothing ever eventuated. We spent a good couple of days waiting out a storm in the middle of nowhere not moving far from the protection and shelter of the car. As the rain cleared, we headed back to the highway a little deflated and continued on our way.
Next was once again another left-hand point in the town Mehuin. Still with the lack of swell and rain we skipped through town pretty quickly.
finally a right while surfing in Southern Chile
Since the start of our trip we had been planning to head over to Chiloe Island with the hope of getting one last surf in before hitting the deep south of Patagonia and packing our boards away for a few months. As we were making our way down the coast. We camped along a stretch of coast and awoke once more to the pouring rain. This time however, there was hardly a breath of wind. Down below the cliffs to was a right-hander breaking off a little reef. After being spoilt with numerous hundred-meter-long point breaks for the last couple of months this break hardly compared. With nobody else in sight and both being regular footers it was such a joy to surf.
On the island there was a point break we had been keeping an eye on and we were hoping to time our trip over with a run of swell. When we arrived the weather was atrocious. The only option we had was to bunker down in a make shift camp on a small beach for what felt like forever. We waited out another front in the hope it would bring the swell we were after.
Unfortunately, the swell never arrived but once again we stumbled upon a beautiful bay with a peeling left hand point. It didn’t take long for the swell to dissipate so we hesitatingly packed the boards away for what would be the last time in who knows how long as we continued on to next part of the adventure, Patagonia. Hopefully well find a few more hidden gems on the drive back north or perhaps we’ll just get rained out again but I guess that’s all part of the fun of surfing in Southern Chile.
Whilst we were surfing in South America we also went to Brazil. Read all about the waves we found there by following the link.
Ruby & Josh
Two Lost Feet