Bahia Inglesa: One of the Best Beaches in Chile
The 22 hour bus ride between San Pedro de Atacama and Santiago sounded like torture. With that potential nightmare in mind, I made it my mission to find a worthwhile place to break up the trip. Bahia Inglesa immediately drew me in. The white sand and turquoise water I’d seen in photos were surely too good to be true. I knew I had to find out if this really was one of the best beaches in Chile.
Bahia Inglesa is a short shared taxi ride (around CH$1000 per person) from the city of Caldera (we caught it outside the big supermarket). It makes sense to stay in Caldera if you’re only passing through for a night or two — it’s a tidy little town and things are cheaper than at Bahia Inglesa.
A beautiful stretch of white sand broken up by large rocks immediately greeted us. The water is calm and clear due to its sheltered location. We would definitely have tried to swim if it wasn’t so cold, although the Humboldt Current makes for some chilly water at the best of times. We didn’t see many beaches in Chile but this has to be one of the best. Bahia Inglesa is wide and the sand gets more and more attractive the closer to the water you get (the sand further from the water is a bit rough).
Climbing over the rocks is fun and the views of the beach from above are great. We even saw a group of nuns frolicking near the water. You get a sense of the surrounding scenery from up on the rocks – this massive stretch of Chile’s coastline (and most of Peru’s coastline as well) is barren, dusty desert.
A Beach Picnic
We bought some bread, tuna and olives from a supermarket in Caldera and had a little picnic on the beach. A pack of hungry local dogs sat there drooling while we ate. Every now and then they’d inch closer and we’d have to chase them away. One of the dogs was massive and followed us around the beach after lunch. He was cute but he kept getting in the way of my photos!
We spent a few hours at Bahia Inglesa. It’s a great little beach and is the perfect place to break up the journey between San Pedro de Atacama and Santiago.
I was surprised by Caldera. It’s a nice small town with a large plaza and breezy seaside area. We wandered around the streets, sat for a while in the plaza and explored the port area. We also went to the small railway museum down by the port (it’s free and has comfortable seats!). Food in Chile is expensive compared to the rest of South America (apart from Argentina, of course) so in Caldera we bought cooked chickens and sandwich ingredients from the supermarket — make sure you seek it out if you want to save some money.
The bus trip to Caldera (and then to Santiago)
First we took a bus from San Pedro de Atacama to Antofagasta. From there we caught a night bus heading to Caldera, the gateway city to what many regard as one of the best beaches in Chile. The trip (from San Pedro de Atacama to Caldera) set us back around CH$15,000 each. We arrived in Caldera at 4 am and waited at the bus station (which is basically just a few covered seats) until the sun came up. We then tried to find a reasonably priced place to stay, which proved difficult. We searched for about an hour until we found a place close to a not so attractive beach (not Bahia Inglesa) for CH$20,000.
After spending a couple of days in and around Caldera we booked ourselves on a cheap night bus to Santiago (CH$15,000). Caldera is around half way between San Pedro de Atacama and Santiago and is the perfect place to break up the trip — 22 hour bus rides are never fun!
Further reading: Recorrido.cl is the best website to book cheap bus tickets in Chile.
Have you been to Bahia Inglesa, or any other beaches in Chile? Let me know in the comments below!