A long, thin strip of golden sand separates the ocean from the laid-back, friendly beach town of Los Vilos, which anyone traveling by bus from Santiago to ValparaĂso will have to pass through. First declared a minor port in 1855 by President Manuel Montt, the harbor town quickly achieved success through foreign trade and has since been a fruitful maritime community. Currently, the town has a population of around 9,500, with most inhabitants working in either the fishing or the tourism industry. Los Vilos has also recently become a popular destination for families with childrenâ€”it has several kid-friendly activities, a low-key nightlife, and beaches that are safe for swimming.
Two pretty beaches in Los Vilosâ€”La Principal and Las Conchasâ€”are the townâ€™s main tourist attractions, but visitors can also take short day trips to surrounding islands and lakes, visit townâ€™s small aquarium, or take a boat ride around the harbor.
Restaurants tend to be typical beach-town fare, with fresh, but cheap seafood dishes. Many people head down to the Caleta de San Pedro, where thereâ€™s a small collection of little huts and marisquerias (seafood vendors) selling typical Chilean seafood dishes like paila marina, machas a la parmesana, and tasty seafood empanadas. The tiny Crucero del Amor near the Caleta de San Pedro comes particularly recommended.
In terms of places to stay, there are plenty of small hotels and cabanas in Los Vilos that are close to the beach and are reasonably priced. If youâ€™re looking for cheaper accommodation, there are also lots of residenciales, but they tend to be hit-and-miss (Residencial Turismo is a safe bet with tidy rooms right beside an Internet cafĂ©). The tourism office at the entrance to town has plenty of info on accommodation, so itâ€™s a good idea to stop there first before heading into town.