A charming and magical island off the mainland of South Chile. You can only get here via ferry, so the island has different customs, food and culture. The traditional houses here are built onto the water, held up by wooden stilts and are called palafitos.

The locals here are called chilotes and are proud of it. It is one of my favourite parts of Chile and definitely worth the side trip, if you have the time.

Crossing the Chacao Canal

The myths and legends of Chiloé are one of the most enticing parts of this island. From ghost ships, to a small forest dwelling creature that impregnates young girls, there are many interesting stories to hear. Take the time to slow down in Chiloé, enjoy the history, food and landscapes.

For backpackers, it is easy to get around the island by local bus and ferries. Buses depart to the island, and cross the Chacao Canal, from most major Chilean cities.

Top things to see and experience in Chiloé

This list is based on my own personal experiences.

  1. Visit the town of Dalcahue and enjoy the local artesian markets & food
  2. Wander the streets of Castro, stick to the coast line and enjoy the whimsical palafito houses
  3. Visit Achao, a small village with a view towards the mainland and sea
  4. Catch a ferry to Curaco de Vélez, a little island off this island, that is sleepy and beautiful
  5. Visit the many wooden churches that are dotted throughout Chiloé. They are beautifully painted and some constructed without nails
  6. Chiloé National Park
  7. Sample the seafood and try to visit as many food markets as possible in every town

Where to Stay

There are many options for where to stay in Chiloé. I would suggest staying in Castro, the main city, that has access to all parts of the island. Palafito Hostel, in Castro, was one of my favourite hostels I have ever stayed in.

It is a cosy hostel situated in a renovated palafito, with a delicious home cooked breakfast included. It is a bit further out from the city centre, but you can catch a bus or colectivo (shared taxi) for cheap into town.

The balcony of Palafito Hostel, sitting out on stilts above the water

Chiloé is often the subject of Chilean art. I also drew my take of Chiloé after being inspired by my stay.