Islands

Chile's territory includes hundreds of islands, but the three that are most popular with travelers and easiest to visit are Easter Island, Robinson Crusoe and Chiloé. The first two are located 3,700 km and 500 km, respectively, from the mainland in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Chiloé, the largest of the three, is just a 30 minute ferry ride from the city of Puerto Montt.

Easter Island, or Hanga Roa as it is called in the local indigenous language, is one of the most exotic places in Chile. It sits at the same latitude as Caldera, but is thousands of miles from the coast. Its indigenous culture has been admired for centuries for erecting massive stone monuments called moais over 800 years ago. These stone statues are scattered over a volcanic landscape surrounded by beautiful beaches. Here at the "navel of the world," indigenous culture informs the décor and offerings of first-rate hotels and fine dining.

Robinson Crusoe Island, part of the Juan Fernández Archipelago, was hit hard by the tsunami of February 2010. Much of its municipal and hotel infrastructure is under reconstruction, but you can still enjoy the warm hospitality of its 500 inhabitants, who colonized the island over a century ago. Crusoe has a richer endemic ecology than the Galapagos in terms of flora and birds, including the main source of food, the rock lobster for which the island is famous. Its history is full of stories of corsairs and includes the first naval combat of World War I, when a German cruiser sank off the coast.

Southwest of Puerto Montt, the Chiloé Archipelago is a group of islands near the continental shelf. Its centerpiece is the "Big Island of Chiloe," which is home to cities such as Ancud, Castro and Quellón. These focal points of Chiloé culture are renowned for their legends, food, friendliness, architecture and blend of country and seagoing lifestyles. With a beautiful National Park and churches that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Chiloé is a sure bet.

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