A Quick Guide to Chiloé Island in Southern Chile

The culture of Chiloé’s fiercely independent islanders is no less intriguing thanks to a unique folkloric tradition, neighborhoods of stilted fishermen’s houses known as palafitos.

Stilted palafito houses in Castro, Chiloé island’s largest settlement.

The verdant, rain-soaked isla grande of Chiloé, by far the largest island in its namesake Chilean archipelago, may be famously inclement all year round, but the longer days of the southern summer bring better chances of sun and meadows of wildflowers in full bloom.

It’s also breeding season for endemic Humboldt and Magellanic penguins on the rugged western coast; other draws for nature-lovers include protected woodlands sheltering endangered Darwin’s foxes and southern river otters, plus a seasonal population of pygmy blue whales offshore.

The culture of Chiloé’s fiercely independent islanders is no less intriguing thanks to a unique folkloric tradition, neighborhoods of stilted fishermen’s houses known as palafitos, and 60 nautical wooden churches—16 of them UNESCO-inscribed—that nod to the shipbuilding prowess of local craftsmen.

Getting There
LATAM Chile flies to Chiloé’s Mocopulli Airport from the Chilean capital Santiago, which can be reached via Sydney aboard Qantas.

Where to Stay
An ultramodern take on the island’s vernacular architecture, eco-chic Tierra Chiloé (56-2/2263-0606 from US$1,650, all-inclusive) offers just 24 rooms on a bucolic seafront property.

Don’t Miss
Local fare—think foraged seaweed, razor clams, and braised smoked pork—elevated to gourmet standards at Restaurant Travesía in the main city of Castro.

This article originally appeared in the December 2018/January 2019 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Cheers to Chiloé”).

Share this Article

Related Posts

Your Guide to Phnom Penh and its Newest Attractions

On a return visit to the Cambodian capital, a onetime resident finds its streets awash in new restau...

Your Guide to Ballard, Seattle’s Hip Waterfront Neighborhood

For proof of Seattle’s ongoing upgrade, look no further than this trendsetting, Scandinavian-influ...

Why the Scottish City of Dundee is Worth a Visit

Recent additions here include Slessor Gardens and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s outpost of the V...

The Best Places to Eat, Drink, and Shop in Wellington

Breezy Wellington isn’t just the seat of New Zealand’s government—the cultured capital is also...

Here’s Why the Town of Trinidad is Worth a Visit

No Spanish-colonial town in Cuba is quite as beguiling as UNESCO-listed Trinidad.

What to Eat, See, and Do in the Swedish Port of Malmö

Just across the water from the Danish capital, the Swedish port of Malmö has reemerged in recent ye...