Introduction

The large and heavily Huilliche coastal commune of San Juan de La Costa dominates the Osorno seaside, 60km west of the city, and is one of Chile's underrated Pacific jewels. Regional route U-40 from Osorno twists and dips through bucolic countryside and forested logging regions before giving way to a stunning coastline that harbors a series of five magnificent caletas (coves) – Pucatrihue, Maicolpué, Bahía Mansa, Manzano and Tril-Tril. (These are but a glimpse of what's to come, as Caleta Cóndor, 23km south of Bahía Mansa as the crow flies, is accessed from here.) But the aformentioned caletas are worth consideration as well – you'll find windswept villages where dolphins and sea lions practically swim to shore and women scramble about wild, rugged beaches collecting luga and cochayuyo, two types of edible sea plant that help fuel the local economy.