Isla Grande de Chiloé

From vibrant Valparaiso to colourful Castro.

After a few days in the port city, it was time to visit the countryside, and so we headed south to the Chilean Archipelago Isla Grande de Chiloé.

We flew to Puerto Montt, and the next morning travelling by bus we made our way to the largest city on the island. From the bus window the vistas looked familiar; rolling green hills, small family farms, and roadside eateries with Coca-Cola signs. A couple of hours after leaving, complete with a ferry ride across the Chacao Channel to Chiloé, we arrived in Castro, the capital of Chiloé.

Pictured below is the joyful palafitos; wooden stilt houses the island is famous for. We found the best view was looking west of town from high above the bay.


The eye-catching Palafitos of Castro.

And early in the morning, from the shoreline.


Reflections at low-tide.

A walk around Casto gave us many sights like these craftsmen building traditional wooden boats.



Shipbuilders working their craft.

Spanish Jesuits arrived on Chiloé in the 17th century, leaving behind a legacy of historic Churches entirely constructed of wood. At least 150 once stood on the island. Today, due to local heritage conservation efforts, approximately 70 churches can be seen dotting the many villages. This one in the centre of town can’t be missed.


Church of San Francisco in Castro.

The island is fortunate to have an ample supply of lumber, reflected in the unique wood-shingled style homes and buildings.


Weathered and charming at the same time. 

While in Castro, make sure to visit the fish market, a perfect place to pick up some fresh seafood for dinner if you are cooking at the hostel as we did. dsc_0105Then take a stroll along the waterfront where inquisitive sea lions poke their heads above the surface checking out the action on the beach. dsc_0118

And shorebirds like this large sandpiper probing for marine worms.


A Hudsonian Godwit feeding in the shallow water. 


When the tide is out, you’ll find small boats that are high and dry waiting for the water to rise again. dsc_0292

From Castro, we did a day trip to nearby Achao where the oldest of Chiloe’s churches still stands, dating back to 1740 and boasting the original decorative interior. It overlooks the central Plaza de Armas.


The Santa María de Loreto Church. 




A walk around Achao reveals the character of this unique village.


‘For Sale’ – A fixer upper for someone.

Our visit was brief, and in retrospect, we should have rented a car during our stay. Touring by bus is too limiting to easily explore the many towns, coastal areas, and the Chiloé National Park that this little-known Chilean island has to offer. Chiloé, a gem to be discovered.

6 thoughts on “Isla Grande de Chiloé

    • Thank Craig! I much appreciated sleeping in while you got up for sunrise with Gord, the golden time of day to capture great photos:) Anyone reading this, check out Claire’s blog, a talented artist who, like me likes to sleep in. – Ginette

  1. Oh I just fell in love with this place! I wish I had known about it when we were there. So much world, so little time! Beautiful photographs. They entice me there, especially the opening shot, and the yellow church.

    • We couldn’t agree with you more, “So much world, so little time!” Everywhere we visit, we have the same conversation…” gee, we could live here for a month or two”, and at other cities not. Chiloé is on the ‘yes’ list. – Ginette

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