Due to the island’s relative isolation from the mainland, Chiloé developed its own folklore, architecture, and cuisine, which are distinct from those in the rest of Chile. Top sights include the colorful 18th- and 19th- century wooden churches—16 of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Make sure to stop by the island’s craft fairs and to sample the local fried breads and potato and seafood dishes.
To enjoy the island’s natural side, book a tour of Chiloé National Park and head on a hike along the coastal dunes, or take a kayak trip through the lakes and wetlands. You can visit Chiloé Island on its own or as part of a multi-day tour of Chile’s Lake District.
Things to Know Before You Go
The island weather can be unpredictable; always bring layers and be prepared for rain.
Chiloé’s capital city, Castro, is the best place to see the palafitos.
For hiking and wildlife viewing, head to Tantauco Park and Chiloé National Park.
How to Get There
Chiloé Island is the largest island in southern Chile’s Chiloé Archipelago, about 631 miles (1,106 kilometers) south of Santiago and 56 miles (90 kilometers) southwest of Puerto Montt. It is connected to the mainland by a tunnel, and frequent ferries run to the island from the village of Pargua. You can also take a bus between Puerto Montt and the island’s capital, Castro, or a direct bus from Santiago.
When to Get There
The best time to visit Chiloé Island is December through March, when the weather is at its best. For a cultural experience, visit in February and March, when most of the island’s villages host their annual festivals. To enjoy Castro’s weeklong Festival Costumbrista Chilote, visit in mid-February.
Chiloé National Park
Located on the western coast of Chiloé Island, Chiloé National Park is one of the area’s top attractions. The park boasts rain forest, lakes, coastal dunes, and beaches, and is an important habitat for humpback whales, finbacks, and the endangered southern right whale. Park highlights include the white beaches along the Chanquin-Cole Cole trail, the sea lion colony at Metalqui Island, and the sand dunes at Sendero Playa.
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