Often times overshadowed by the more popular tourist destination of Valparaiso right next door, Viña del Mar is by no means outdone, and has become known for being one of the trendier, more luxurious and beautiful cities in the whole country. Lined with perfectly landscaped gardens, canopies of beautiful trees, and eye catching modern architecture, the beaches around Viña del Mar are the cherry on top of this tremendous city, and may help it earn the crown as the most complete city in Chile.
Follow the coast north from Valparaiso and just before the Viña del Mar estuary that acts to separate the two conjoined cities, you will encounter the first strip of sand to enjoy in the Viña del Mar area. Still technically on the Valparaiso side of the river, but closer to Viña del Mar, this little strip of beach is no more than a couple hundred meters long but is a good place to mingle with other beach goers and grab some refreshments and snacks from the wandering vendors.
Continue on the road past Caleta Abarca and you will cross the estuary and officially be in Viña del Mar, where the main road along the water will lead you to the longest strip of beach right in the center of town. Playa Acapulco is the first beach area, and most easily accessible from the center of Viña del Mar as it is only a few minutes by foot, and attracts a lot of locals on the weekends.
A touch north of Playa Acapulco and separated only by Muelle Vergara (a large dock and crane) is Playa El Sol. Sun Beach, as it fittingly translates to, is the first and most popular stretch of beach in the city. Here is your best bet to find some vacant beach space to call your own, as the beach continues uninterrupted over a kilometer (.62 miles) up the coast, with the north portion also referred to as Playa Marineros.
Due to its extensive length, just before Playa El Sol reaches its end, it becomes Playa Los Cañones, named after the anti aircraft guns lining this part of the coast. It has the same light coffee coloured sand and welcoming, yet frigid waters as Playa del Sol, but with an interesting change: these old military weapons are part of the attraction, and beach goers are allowed to touch and climb upon them at their own leisure.
The headland that provides cover to Playa Los Cañones also shields another beautiful beach on its north side known as Playa Salinas. At this point, you are outside of the central area of Viña del Mar, and will be treated to a terrific sheltered little beach – and even restaurants – with less of the crowds that have just wandered from the town to the beach.
Past Salinas Beach you will start entering the neighbouring small city of Reñaca, which is blessed to have a golden beach lining the town. Only a 15 minute drive north, this is a great option for people who want to venture outside of Viña del Mar, visit a new town, and see some new scenery, after exhausting the beaches within Viña proper.
For the committed beach goer, and someone who likes a little more activity than just a long strip of beach, Playa Cochoa may be the one for you. It is a small strip of sand with big rocks scattered throughout that give it a more rugged look than your average beaches with sun umbrellas dotting the sand. There is also a little mirador connected to it, for a good view over the beach if you want to walk away with a great coastal photograph.
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