Isla Grande de Chiloe Travel Guide

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Isla Grande de Chiloe

Isla Grande de Chiloe © Joanna C
Chiloé is South America's largest island, 112 miles (180km) long and 31 miles (50km) wide. It is a wild and beautiful place but also one of Chile's poorest areas with most of the populace scratching a living out of farming or fishing. It has rich folkloric traditions and a wealth of mythology that has contributed to Chilean literature, involving trolls, sea monsters and ghost ships. Another mark of the unique Chilote culture is the distinctive craftwork that is produced, especially that made from wool.

The island rich heritage is evident in its unique architecture: the forested countryside is scattered with more than 150 wooden churches dating from about two centuries ago; the estuaries are lined with quaint palafitos (stilted houses); and the small towns feature wooden shingled buildings. Most of the Chilotes live within sight of the sea and scenes of colourful wooden boats are commonly visible through the rain and mist. Seafood is a prominent part of daily life here and the morning's freshest catch is always available at local restaurants and markets.

Known for its damp weather and the spooky folklore that is perfectly suited to the island's misty beauty, Chiloé balances wild nature with the warmth of its people and their culture. As it is still largely an unknown destination, a visit to the island offers adventurous travellers an authentic and unique experience of Chile, especially in the main town Castro, or in the wonderful national park on the pacific coast, Parque Nacional Chiloé.


Castro © Christian Cordova


Castro is the main town (technically a city) on Chiloé Island. It is actually the third oldest city in Chile, founded in 1576. Castro is famous for its colourful rows of palafitos (stilted houses) lining the estuaries, excellent seafood and traditional handicrafts. With an...  see full details

Parque Nacional Chiloe © Lin Linao

Parque Nacional Chiloé

Following in the footsteps of Darwin after 150 years, visitors will find an isolated but wildly beautiful assortment of rolling hills, native forests and pristine coastline in Parque Nacional Chiloé. It is home to the Chilote fox, the rare pudú (miniature deer) and over...  see full details

Wooden churches of Chiloe © Alastair Rae

Wooden Churches of Chiloe

The Spanish, who arrived in the 16th century, and Jesuit missionaries that came to Isla Grande de Chiloe in the 17th century, built hundreds of wooden churches in the archipelago in an attempt to 'civilise' the three local Indian tribes that occupied the islands....  see full details