Chiloe Island lies in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern Chile. It is the largest of the group of islands in the area. The capital of the island is Castro and it is located on the eastern part of the island. One of the more notable changes is the infrastructure found here - you can see colourful houses along the coast of the island, built on wooden stilts. You’ll also find lush landscapes, with forests, hills, and national parks. There are lots of great things to do in Chiloe Island, such as visiting the Parque Nacional de Chile, or taking a trip to Chepu to name a couple.
Due to the arrival of Jesuit Missionaries in the 17th century, there are several churches and chapels on the island. Some of the chapels are now considered World Heritage Sights by UNESCO. This island was originally inhabited by local tribes up until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. Today the residents are known to be superstitious, some still believe in old myths and legends. Below is our Chiloe Island travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
IGLESIA DE SAN FRANCISCO DE CASTRO – This building (built in 1912 by Eduardo Povasoli) is the third version constructed. There were two others, both of which burnt down. Slightly different in design, this church has a much more vibrant feel to it: the yellow colour shines brightly in the sunlight, and the beautiful interior is worth a look.
CHEPU – Chepu is the northern part of the National Park on Chiloe Island. This part of the island offers a spot of peace and beauty. Mostly untouched by major tourism, here you can see the beautiful water that has flooded part of the forest and is now a sunken forest. Here you can also enjoy the abundance of bird species, take a kayak tour in the beautiful park area, or see one of the most self-sustaining lodges in the world. There are buses that can take you into this part of the National Park.
PARQUE NACIONAL DE CHILOE – This is the National Park of Chiloe: it stretches from the Pacific coastline of the Island inward and covers 430 square kilometres. Here you can find an abundance of bird species, foxes and a small type of deer called pudu. There are also indigenous groups of Huilliche living in the national park who are involved in the park’s management.
MONUMENTO NATURAL ISLOTES DE PUÑIHUIL – This group of three islands off the coast of Puñihuil have an abundance of penguins and blue whales. It is a protected monument and a no-fishing zone. Here you can take boat trips out into the area to spot some wildlife. You can also walk and see the beautiful beach.
PARQUE TANTAUCO - This park encompasses about 1180 square kilometres, lying west of Quellon on the island of Chiloe. One of the most biodiverse areas in the world, this park contains an abundance of animals. It is home to otters, foxes, blue whales and mountain monkeys. There are also beautiful hiking trails. This park offers an escape and a chance to be isolated with the nature in the area. This park is owned by former President of Chile Sebastian Pinera.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
You will have a good chance to see penguins, and even blue whales at the Monumento Natural Islotes de Puñihuil. This is the one adventure here that cannot be missed.
The main type of food that you are going to find here on the island is seafood. Curantos (meat/seafood stew, traditionally cooked) and parrilladas (grilled meat) are also offered. You can get a great taste for the local culture here on the island. There are many good restaurants on the island, such as El Meson Chilote (near Ancud) which offers fresh seafood and generous portions. If you’re after something lighter try La Ventana de Elisa, for great soup, sandwiches, coffee, and cake.
Here on Chiloe Island, you’re more likely to find good places to enjoy the night in the bigger towns on the island. In Castro, you can find the club Universo Discotheque, and Almud bar, which has a relaxed atmosphere and delicious cocktails.
Chiloe Island has a more temperate climate and is humid. The west side of the island is rainy and windy while the eastern side of the island is drier. The average temperature is about 14 – 15 degrees Celsius. The rainy season is from April to September, but it does rain all year round.
By plane, there are flights offered from Santiago to Castro, a city on Chiloe island. There are also flights from Santiago to Puerto Montt, a port city in southern Chile - from here it’s around an hour to get to Pargua. Near Pargua there is the option of taking the ferry across the Chacao Channel, which separates mainland Chile from Chiloe Island. The ferry takes cars and people across regularly from 6:30am to 12pm, and takes 25-40 minutes.
There are also bus trips offered from Santiago to Ancud, a city at the very north of the island. It takes approximately 14 hours.
Castro is the main city of the island and is one of the better places to stay as a starting point to explore the Island. One option is Palafito Hostel in Castro, which is cosy, has friendly staff, and a great view of the waterfront. The best part is the breakfast, which includes homemade Chilean bread! There are other places on the island that offer accommodation, such as in Ancud (northern Chiloe) or Quellon (southern Chiloe), and you can also find camping grounds to stay at.
Be careful when eating the seafood as sometimes you can get sick from the algae that can leave toxins on some of the shellfish.