Pichilemu: not your average surfing destination

When you think of all the places to surf in the world, Chile probably doesn’t feature at the top of your list. Yet, with waves over 25 feet and life post-earthquake returning to normal, the small town of Pichilemu in central Chile is fast becoming a top spot to catch a wave.

Surfers come here from far afield to take advantage of the southwest Pacific swell and enjoy the laid-back, beach resort lifestyle. Punta de Lobos is where they’re all headed – a few miles outside of town, this popular surfing beach offers regular, high waves as well as stunning views from the cliffs and the rocks. As such it was worthy host of the Quiksilver Big Wave event in May 2010, which attracted 24 of the world’s top big wave riders and a total $30,000 in prize money – half of which was pledged to help with the relief effort after the 27th February earthquake and tsunami.

You don’t have to be world-class to enjoy surfing at Pichilemu, however. Although it’s great for advanced surfers, this is good spot to start even as a beginner, as the point break in town has a sand bottom which makes it safe.

And what if you’d rather stay on dry land? The rolling hills and forests of the region offer plenty of other outdoor pursuits such as mountain biking, kayaking and horse riding, while the less energetic can enjoy bird-watching, wine-tasting or yoga. Whatever you do, you can work up an appetite safe in the knowledge that the town offers a number of good restaurants, especially those specialising in seafood.

Cactus’ Spanish & Surf course in Pichilemu is a great way to learn Spanish and get a feel for the local surf culture. Courses take place in a great new school right in the centre of Pichilemu, with an amazing view of Puntilla Beach. Available from one week upwards, with accommodation provided in a host family if requested, this is one place worthy of a postcard home.

Cactus also offers surfing courses in many other locations across the globe.

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