Playa La Virgen

Beach in Norte Chico

Until just a couple of years ago, the stunning Playa La Virgen, 46km south of Bahía Inglesa along a lovely coastal road, was a well-guarded treasure of just a few in-the-know Chileans. While the secret is now out, it's worth a day trip or a couple of days' stay at this little sliver of sandy paradise. In January the parasol-dotted beach gets packed with a young party crowd; in February it's families who move in.

You can head there with one of the tour agencies in Caldera or Bahía Inglesa or arrange your own minivan transport. If you have your own wheels, note that the road is rough (but doable with a regular car) and that it costs CH$5000 to park by the reception, unless you're renting one of the cabins. To avoid the fee, park at the top and walk downhill for 10 minutes to the crescent-shaped beach.