Discover the Epic Beach Known as the ‘Surf Capital of the World’

Young woman surfing on pink surfboard
© Maksym Fesenko/

Written by Patrick MacFarland

Updated: November 14, 2023

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Surf’s up dude! That’s right, we’re talking about surfing — it’s the sport invented in Hawaii where you use a board to ride waves. California and Hawaii are known as some of the places with the best waves in the world. There’s even talk that Portugal and Indonesia have great waves. But when it comes to epic waves, there’s only one place on earth known as the “surf capital of the world.”

Punta de Lobos hosts the National Surfing Championship every summer.

The epic beach we’re talking about is Pichilemu. Pichilemu is located in the center of Chile, right by the coast. It is a rough three-hour drive from Chile’s capital, Santiago, to Pichilemu. In the Mapuche language, Pichilemu means “small forest.” 

As a surfer, we know you’re always on the hunt to find the next big wave. Whether it’s Fiji or the Gold Coast of Australia, here’s another surf spot to add to your bucket list. Let’s explore Pichilemu’s surf history, the best time to visit, and other fun activities to do in the surf capital of the world and its surrounding areas.

Pichilemu’s History

Surfer at Punta de Lobos in Pichilemu, Chile

Chilean diplomat Agustin Ross put Pichilemu on the map, making it a wealthy beach resort town.

©Jose Luis Stephens/

Native inhabitants called the Promoucaes inhabited what is now Pichimelu. They were fishermen apart from hunter-gatherers. When the Spanish settled in the area, they created a dock and a small port. It was decreed as an official city in 1891, and it was also made the capital of the province of Cardenal Caro. 

But Pichilemu still remained unknown to many Chileans. It was Chilean writer, diplomat, and politician Agustin Ross, who put Pichilemu on the map. He decided to settle there, so he bought land and built a hotel on it. He then went on to build more commercial interests — a casino, a park, embankments, and more — that he was sure to draw visitors. Ross was right and it became a vacation beach town for people wanting to relax and get away from the stuffiness of Santiago (Chile’s capital). 

From then on, avid surfers who visited from all over Chile and even all over the world spread the word about this surfing hotspot. So much so, that eventually Pichilemu was branded with the coolest nickname ever: the surf capital of the world.

Best Time to Surf

Aerial shot of a beach and the pacific ocean at Pichilemu, Chile

A big population of different types of whales lives in the waters of Pichilemu.


The International Championship of Surf takes place every year in October and December at La Puntilla Beach. This marks these months as the prime times to visit Pichilemu and get good waves. Punta de Lobos hosts the National Surfing Championship every summer.

Although any month has good surf, the summer and autumn months are the best times for the greatest surf possible. The top beaches to experience the amazing surf are Punta de Lobos, La Puntilla Beach, and El Infiernillo. Punta de Lobos is one of the best beaches in the world for surfing, rolling out fantastic waves for surfers to ride. 

Women have led the way in Pichilemu’s surfing culture, which has become quite controversial with the surfing community. This doesn’t deter them and we know it will further make Pichilemu more popular.

Climate in Pichilemu

When it comes to Pichilemu’s climate, it is considered relatively moderate and primarily comfortable all year. Chile is located in the Southern Hemisphere, so the winter months are in June, July, and August. The summer months are in December, January, and February. During the summer, the weather is sunny and moderately hot. The wetter months are in winter. 

January is the hottest month with an average temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). As for the colder month, that’s in July with an average temperature of 48 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius). The year-round average temperature is 57 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius).

Fun Activities in Pichilemu

Punta de Lobos sector beach in Pichilemu Chile

Surfing is one of the oldest sports in the world; it is believed Captain James Cook witnessed surfing in 1778 in Hawaii.


Although Pichilemu is the surf capital of the world, there are a lot of fun activities you can do besides surfing. Pichilemu was created as a beach resort town to draw visitors to the town. 

Pichilemu is a town for outdoorsy people. When you aren’t surfing in some of Chile’s top surfing spots, you can go running along the beaches. Even though the water is cold, you can also swim in the water. There are a ton of water sports you can do in the waters — from kayaking to snorkeling, boating, cycling, and bird watching

If you’d like to do something completely different, you can always head out to a small town near Pichilemu called Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz has some of the best vineyards in Chile. You can go wine tasting and try out some of the best Chilean wines.

Lastly, the best thing to do in a resort beach town is relax. Put your feet up and enjoy a stress-free holiday.

What to Eat and Drink in Pichilemu

Chilean food is delicious and being a foremost tourist town, Pichilemu offers the best Chilean food. Street vendors know that people come to the surf capital of the world to go to the beach and ride waves. For those surf watchers out there, you can relax on the beach and eat some of the food vendors’ best meals. They offer a variety of typical Chilean food including delicious empanadas.

You’ll also run into food vendors walking down the street and if you see some completos (or Chilean hot dogs), get one. They will make your taste buds go, “Woah!” 

If you want to go on a night on the town for dinner, make sure you arollado de huaso, a pork roll topped with chile and bacon. For those craving something more home-style or home-cooked, try out the charquican, which is a beef stew with carrots and corn. You can also have the leftovers for breakfast and it will taste just as good. Chile also has its version of steak frites, which is a steak, fries, and a fried egg on top. Pair that with a nice Chilean wine and you’ll be golden!

Facts About Pichilemu

Cliff in Punta de Lobos at Pichilemu, VI Region, Chile

The first woman to try out surfing is believed to be novelist Agatha Christie.

©Jose Luis Stephens/

  • Pichilemu is known as the “Latin American Waikiki.”
  • Pichilemu has a population of 13,916.
  • The commune of Pichilemu was created in 1891.
  • Pichilemu is in the province of Cardenal Caro.
  • Pichilemu is in the region of O’Higgins.


The surf capital in the world is located in the southern hemisphere, right smack in the center of one of the longest countries in the world. Pichimelu was created as a resort beach town to attract wealthy Chileans to vacation there. This, in turn, created a wave of people on the hunt for good surf. 

Today, it’s the best place to surf in Chile and Pichilemu hosts several national and international competitions. Pichilemu’s beaches are world-class spots for all kinds of water sports, too. Chilean diplomat and politician Agustin Ross knew when he first laid eyes on the town that it had the potential to be known around the world. He believed in a vision that had come true. Pichilemu is the quintessential surf town that people flock to. 

If you’re a surfer on the hunt for good waves, look no further than Pichilemu. It’s the surf capital of the world for a reason. You’ll ride good waves, relax at the beach, eat good food, and have a ton of fun exploring the town!

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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