Chiloé Island is the largest island in Chile. It's a popular place to visit especially among Chileans who come to appreciate the island character, the rural landscape, the seafood and the Unesco churches. The best time to visit the island is from December to March. . The island's tourist information has a great website in english with lots of information on sites, tours, excursions, dining, events, shopping etc. []
Chiloe is famous for myths and legends with roots in its native population but with some European influence. Even though the island was Christianized by Spanish conquerors (you can visit many of the Jesuit wooden churches all over the island) its inhabitants are also very superstitious. A singing, fair-haired beauty similar to the German Lorelei is called la pincoya. It is said that if she dances towards the coast the sea will bring a lot of fish. A ghost ship carrying the souls of wrecked sailors, similar to the Flying Dutchman, is called caleuche. And if someone tells you he or she was seduced in the forest, it might have been the fiura or the trauco, which is often blamed for venereal disease or an awkward pregnancy. A very pitiful figure is the invunche; as a baby his orifices, including his eyes, were closed and one leg was sewn to his back, so that he walks on three legs.
There are plans to build a bridge from the mainland to Chiloe island which should be completed in 2020. Many locals fear the island character will be lost when the bridge is completed.
Speak Spanish! There may be a few people that know some English but try to respect the culture. Showing that you're trying means a lot and the people there will try to work with you!
Chiloe Island is located 1016 km. from Santiago and 90 km. southwest of Puerto Montt. To reach the island, you need to travel southeast from Puerto Montt towards Pargua, where you have to take the ferry across the Canal de Chacao. Ferries take buses and cars over on a regular basis, between 6:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.
The fastest way to get to Puerto Montt is by airplane, from P.Montt you continue to Chiloé. The non-stop flight between Santiago and Puerto Montt lasts approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes and there are at least four flights per day. LAN Chile now (November 2012) has flights from Santiago to Castro, Chiloé.
It takes 14 hours to travel between Santiago and Ancud by bus. Ancud is northernmost large city in Chiloé. A good level of service and comfort can be found on the buses which provide semi-bed and bed seats.
Santiago to Puerto Montt by car takes approximately 13 hours, taking Route 5 south to Puerto Montt, then head southeast toward Pargua. At Pargua, visitors board the ferry which crosses the Canal de Chacao to Chiloé. The ferry ride lasts around 25 minutes.
The bus system is pretty effective. In order to get around with ease knowing some Spanish would help a lot.
There are quite a few local sites to be seen throughout Chiloe Island. Since it was separated by water from the mainland, many of the local traditions have been preserved here, instead of merging with the Spanish culture after the conquest.
Seafood, seafood, and more seafood. Delicious and cheap! Curantos and Parrilladas are a must!
Bars can be found in the main cities of the island, and also in the small touristic places like Cucao, Chonchi, etc. In Castro is possible to find digger bars and clubs. typical drinks are Yerba Mate, wine, Pisco & Pisco Sour.
Castro is a good base to explore the other parts of the island and to visit the nearby islands. Castro can get very busy in Januray and February. If in seacrh for more quietness the other towns also have plenty of hospedajes and camp grounds.
Occasionally the water temperature in southern Chile rises sufficiently to create algae bloom. Consumption of some shellfish can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning .