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At one time, rich Chileans spent their vacations in Viña del Mar. Then the crowds descended and spoiled everything. The rich grabbed their designer suitcases, jumped in their cars and traveled around 125km north in search of something better. They found Zapallar, or place of pumpkins, and quickly transformed it from a sleepy fishing town into one of the most exclusive beach resorts in Chile.


Zapallar’s stunning golden bay is sheltered by lush tree covered hills. The hills are dotted with luxurious holiday homes (many of them old mansions). The pretty town is quiet with less than 6000 full-time residents but there are quaint little streets to wander along if you fancy a break from the beach.


People come to Zapallar to relax or pose on the beach, but it’s also possible to do a range of water sports. The coastal path around the bay is a lovely walk. Climb over the rocks to Isla Seca (or dry island) actually a peninsula and not an island! It’s not a good idea to swim here though as the sea is pretty rough. If you’re feeling a bit more energetic, climb Cerro Higuera, a 692-meter high hill for incredible coastal views.


There isn’t much by way of cheap accommodation in Zapallar but Residencial La Terraza on Del Alcalde 142 is a budget hotel (Tel: +56 (0) 7 11409). If you have a bit more money and a car try the stylish four star Hotel Isla Seca. It’s located on Camino Costero Ruta F-30-E Nº 31 (Tel: (56-33) 741224


Chiringuito Restaurant at the Caleta is famous for seafood (Tel: +56 32 741 024). Alternatively, go to the fish market Caleta Zapallar and buy produce straight from the sea and cook it at home.


Getting there:

Driving from Santiago: take route 5 Norte until Nogales. Then take route F-20 until you come to routes F-30-E and F-210. You need to head north at this junction.

Bus from Santiago: take a bus from Estacion Central.

Driving from Viña del Mar or Valpariaso: head north for routes F-30-E and F-210.

Bus from Viña del Mar: buses depart from Plaza Sucre (just off Avenida Valparaíso ) and Plaza Parroquia (close to the entrance of Quinta Vergera) every 30 – 40 minutes. In summer departures are up to 9pm. In winter, last departures are at around 7pm.

Bus from Valparaíso: from Avenida Errázuriz take any bus going to Zapallar.


Driving from Mendoza: take routes 60, 5 Norte, F-30-E and F-210.




Other places nearby Zapallar: Horcon, Maitencillo, Quintero and Papudo.

By Noleen Turner
I'm originally from Northern Ireland but have lived in Santiago de Chile for over two years. I work in marketing communications and as a writer and...
26 Aug 2008

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