Zapallar Visitors Guide

2017.04 Zapallar Trip-1118

Zapallar, a lovely sea-side village in Chile

Zapallar is an exceptionally picturesque coastal town in central Chile reachable by freeway from Santiago in under 2hrs, making for a ideal day-trip or a overnight visit. The small resort town is very crowded in the months of January and February, and mostly empty the rest of the year. It sits on a breathtaking coastline that is reminiscent of Big Sur in California, and offers numerous panoramic vistas and hiking trails, wonderful seafront restaurants, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean making landfall against various rocky outcrops.

Ask Chileans where there best beach on the extensive Chilean coast is and they will undoubtedly name Zapallar. This beautiful beach lies on a small bay, enveloped by surrounding mountains and a magnificent, rocky coastline. Lying on the clean, sandy beach, looking out at the bay and beyond to the magnificently blue Pacific Ocean, seeing and feeling the waves crashing on the beach, observing the fishermen’s boats bobbing on the crystal water, one cannot imagine a more scenic setting. Of course you can also spend that beach time braving the usually cold water, playing paddleball, taking a beachside nap, reading a good book, or wandering up to the Cesar for seafood lunch or a pisco sour. Although the beach can be very crowded in the summer, it is not unusual to have the beach to yourself the rest of the year.

Zapallarinos are serious about preserving the beauty of their choice little spot in the world. With the exception of two parking lots, there are no roads around the entire circumference of the bay. Instead, there is the ‘rambla’, a pathway for all to enjoy the scenery, taking in the exquisite landscape of the sea, rocks, and sky, serenaded not by traffic but by the crashing waves and overhead seabirds. There are benches along the entire path for setting a while to soak in that beauty that you are immersed in.

diego y tini

Walking in this town is not restricted to the rambla. People wander down the village streets, soaking in the architecture of the homes and some of the awesome landscaping, for the mild climate of the area allows a wide variety of foliage to grow. People meander over to Mar Bravo to catch the sunset or some of the magnificent wave action. And for the adventuresome, one can boulder-hop down the panoramic coastline to the neighboring town of Cachagua.

pano wide

Although this seaside village contains some of the grandest estates in all of Chile, the town itself is still small in character, composed of little shops where one buys his bread in a bakery and his vegetables at the green grocer. This is not a place to come for the nightlife, for there are no bars or discos. The days are about the beach, while the evenings are about having a few pisco sours and a good meal.

Zapallar in 360 Degrees

My son Carlos made a 360 Virtual Reality video that shows the coastal walk from Cachagua to Zapallar, the beach, and parts of Cerro de la Cruz and La Rambla.  Enjoy:

A guide to Zapallar activities and restaurants

The goal of this website is to provide first time visitors with inspiration to visit Zapallar.  The site is comprised of photographs and articles put together by Forest Key, Randall Urban, and other members of the “Casanueva” extended family, which have lived off and on in Zapallar for nearly 100 years.  Forest lived in and has visited Zapallar off and on since the early 1970s, and is proud to have attended the local public school for a few years! Randall currently has a vacation home in town and lives in Zapallar several months each year.

beach left

Recommendations for visiting Chile

The New York Times’ travel writer Eric Lipton recently visited and greatly enjoyed his time in Zapallar, and kindly made reference to this very website as a reference for anyone visiting the area.  Thank you Eric for the shout out, and so glad you came to this part of the world and enjoyed your stay!  I recommend Eric’s article Tranquil, Sandy Refuges From Bustling Santiago, as a great primer on the Chilean coast for anyone visiting–he makes several good recommendations that compliment your visit to Zapallar itself (among neighboring towns and wineries + hotels he enjoyed staying at).

A lot of visitors to this site have emailed me and asked for broader recommendations for a first time visitor to Chile, so i put together a overview on my blog that might come in handy.  It of course mentions visiting Zapallar as one of the must-do elements of any visit to Chile!  Here’s my recommendations for visiting chile.