Surfing in Pichilemu

Chile has a burgeoning surfing scene that, surprisingly, is only an hour's drive from the wineries of Colchagua. The little coastal town of Pichilemu dates to the early 19th century, and today is a popular beach town, especially with the younger crowd, most of whom come to catch the waves and nightlife. This is Chile's prime surf spot, and people come from around the world to test their skills. There are three main sectors for surfing. Beginners should start at La Puntilla, known for its long, even waves of 3 to 13 feet during the winter months (March through November). Those with a bit more experience can check out El Infiernillo—about a quarter mile south—where the rocky conditions make it clear why it's called the "Little Hell." The area's biggest draw is clearly Punta de Lobos, where the conditions leave novices on the beach and the experts with the challenge of maneuvering 20-foot waves. This is widely considered the best surfing in South America year-round. If you're up to it, you might even compete in the International Surfing Championship held here each year in late November.

Pichilemu is easy to reach by car or bus from Santa Cruz. If you're driving, head north out of town to Palmilla, turn left, and continue on I–50 all the way to the coast. The paved road is in good condition and leads through wine country, over the coastal mountains, and down again along pine-lined curves to the coast. Direct buses to Pichilemu are readily available from San Fernando and Santa Cruz. Accommodation ranges from surf shacks and hostels, to smart posadas and trendy B&Bs.

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