Pucón is firmly positioned on the global map as a mecca for adventure sports, its setting on beautiful Lago Villarrica under the smoldering eye of the volcano of the same name sealing its fate as a world-class destination for adrenaline junkies. Once a summer playground for the rich, Pucón is now a year-round adventure machine catering to all incomes, especially in February (a time to avoid, if possible), when it is absolutely overrun. The town receives alternating floods of package tourists, Santiago holidaymakers, novice Brazilian snowboarders, adventure-seeking backpackers, new age spiritualists and mellowed-out ex-activists turned eco-pioneers.
While the popularity and international feel can be off-putting for some, Pucón boasts the best small-town tourism infrastructure south of Costa Rica. That means quality accommodations, efficient tourism agencies, hundreds of activities and excursions, vegetarian restaurants, falafel, microbrews, and hundreds of expat residents from the world over.
Like every other place in the region, the crowds do trickle in winter and skiing and snowboarding become the focus. In summer, if you're not hiking it, jumping off of it, riding it or climbing it, you'll likely find yourself planted on Pucón's gorgeous black-sand beach, tucked behind the Gran Hotel Pucón – blink and you'll swear you're in the tropics!