Pablo Neruda could not have more accurately described Chile when he said, “Night, snow, and sand compose the shape of my slender homeland.” Although Concón is rather modest in snow content (as it is a beach town), one can’t help but wonder if Neruda ever beheld the town’s rolling sand dunes juxtaposed against the esoteric velvet Chilean sky suspended over a gleaming black ocean. This beautifully alien landscape coupled with the nearby downtown area’s famous seafood makes Concón an ideal, even magical, getaway for the day or weekend. The best part? A day in Concón can add up to no more than CP$15,000.
Photo by Nadine Custis
Arriving in Concón is simple and affordable. Perhaps the easiest, most recommendable way is to bus from Santiago to Viña del Mar, the more accessible neighboring city. This option allows for some time (if desired) exploring the coastal markets, castles, and the plethora of local bars and eateries in the area. From Viña, it takes no more than fifteen to twenty minutes to reach Concón by a local bus. Another plus to this option is the incredible view of the Chilean Pacific from atop the bus’ hilltop route.
Though the downtown sector of Concón offers an ambience that provides endless entertainment, a trip to Concón must begin with a stop at the sand dunes, which one passes before arriving in the main region of the town. After getting off the local bus across the street from the dunes (they’re hard to miss), one has complete freedom to explore this natural phenomenon.
The view of the ocean is obstructed from below the dunes, but the brief hike to the top of the first hill is well worth the breathtaking view of the waves of sand contrasted against the waves of the bordering ocean. The perfect and natural artistry of the wind carves meandering ripples that snake across the hills, mirroring the texture of the ocean below and creating a sense of entrancement that makes it easy to spend hours on these gently sloping, majestic knolls.
Although ascending and traversing the hills on foot suffices, if one has the resources it is also possible to explore the dunes on dirt bike, or more daringly, by snowboard. The dunes invite infinite creativity from its visitors.
From the base of the dunes it is easy to pick up the same local bus into the town, where one finds countless options to satisfy a seafood craving. Avenida Borgoño, which runs along the coast, boasts a string of seafood restaurants, ranging in price and options. La Gatita, perched on the side of the street overlooking the water, is reasonably priced with meals between approximately CP$4,000 and CP$5,000 each. However, any of the numerous restaurants along the avenue are worth investigating.
The restaurants in Concón offer the standard assortment of fish and other seafood. Salmon, swordfish, conger, and shellfish are common, but if mariscos and pescado don’t quite suite one’s taste, the typical hamburguesa, papas fritas, and empanadas are among the “safer” items on the wide selection of the town’s menus.
Personal experience leads to a suggestion of buttered salmon with mashed potatoes and red wine, a decadent and satisfying option available for a total of about CP$7,000 at La Gatita. Another suggestion is trying a main course at one restaurant and strolling along the seaside avenue to search for dessert and wine at another venue; this presents a simple and cheap opportunity to see and experience more of Concón.
Beyond the natural scenery and incredible seafood, Concón offers countless more distractions for its visitors: for more information on dining, museums, lodging, and other tourist services in Concón, visit the town’s website at www.concon.cl.