Norte Grande y Chico, Chile
Starting in central Region V, the bay at Algarrobo is great for beginners and also hosts national course racing events. Winds blow cross-shore up to 20 knots inside and maybe 30 knots in open water. Launch from the pebble beach by the yacht club. The two spots at Concon are best sailed at high tide – the tiny beach of Playa Amarilla suits beginners and freeriders, while Ritoque is a cross-onshore jumping venue. Up into Region IV, timing’s key at the white horseshoe bay of Pichidangui. Light easterlies fill in around 10am, after 1pm the wind backs southerly and strengthens – often blowing until sunset in the austral summer. In the north there’s a soft cross-shore wave at high tide. If it’s 20 knots there, Los Vilos often has 30. It’s a big open sandy beach with sideshore wind, perfect jump-ramps, and the occasional clean wave peeling through. North to highway’s 330km marker at Teniente Bridge, follow the road by the river to the tiny and rocky southern section of El Teniente beach. Winds blow cross-onshore up to 40 knots and the waves are huge, so it’s best visited on a small swell. Southerly winds fill in early at Puerto Aldea and can reach Force 7 by lunchtime. Walk in via the footpath from Playa Tongoy and expect gusty offshores over flat turquoise water. It’s also gusty inside the enclosed bay of La Herradura, but considerably lighter – safe for beginners, although the water can suffer pollution from the port. Embalse Puclaro is an artificial lake in the lush Valley de Elqui. Sunny with thermal winds 300 days a year, it’s understandably popular for freestyle and hosts the national championships. 100km north is the flat-water tranquility of Punta Choros, where a constant breeze rarely exceeds 15 knots. The whale and dolphin habitat at Isla de Damas is ten minutes away by sea, or explore the picturesque bays to the north – one of which, Mamani is a recently discovered sideshore wave spot. Huasco up in Region III enjoys moderate winds in summer, in spring cross-onshore winds can hit 25 knots and create a gentle wave on this big sandy beach. Bahia Inglesa is a great freeride and kite spot with light SW thermal breezes. The exposed mouth of Copiapo River is good for bump-and-jump, and there’s usually a well-formed wave wrapping in to the bay at Caldera. A day’s drive north is the city of Antofagasta, the capital of Region II, known in the surfing world for its gnarly tubing beach-breaks. Quarter of an hour south-west of town, beyond the mineral works, is the rocky beach at Playa El Leguado – predominantly bump-and-jump, though a big swell will wrap gentle waves into the bay at high tide. Playa Amarilla is usually flat to choppy, the breeze builds by 1pm and keeps blowing until sunset. It always seems a little windier just round the bay at La Riconada, a wide-open white sand beach with clear blue waters and onshore sailing. It’s fully offshore and rarely blowing more than 25 knots at El Consuelo, just south of Isla Santa Maria. Half an hour north is the relatively approachable peeling left-hander at Choralillo. Finally, over 500km away near the Peruvian border Playa Chinchorro in Arica sees moderate wind most days, noon until late. This sideshore wave is fun, easy and relatively safe – which is more than can be said of the other local breaks. South of the central breakwater is ideal for learning to jump.
Kite and Windsurfing Guide