Known to surfers for its left-point break and laid-back atmosphere, Matanzas is an authentic fishing village with good restaurants and a few shopping facilities on the northwest Chilean coast, about 100 miles away from the capital of Santiago. Surrounded by different wave spots, the village is a perfect base for surfers and wave kiters. Two of the four main spots in and around Matanzas are also suitable for freestyle kiters and beginners. Dark volcanic beaches and paltry rock formations create a wild atmosphere. The town of Matanzas is comprised of just one quiet street running alongside the ocean. Only a few hundred people live year-round in this charming, modest village. During the Chilean holiday season (Jan-Feb) it can get busy but throughout the rest of the year the village is calm and offers a lot of space on the beach and in the waves. Along the coast there are many unknown kite and world-famous surf spots such as Punta de Lobos (approximately 60 miles from Matanzas). Depending on weather conditions, no wind days can occur, but there are hardly ever no waves. There is always the possibility of a surf or SUP session, mountain bike trip and horseback riding on the beach.
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Santiago de Chile International Airport Arturo Merino Benitez (SCL)
DISTANCE TO LOCATION: The airport is approximately 100 miles or 2.5 hours by car from Matanzas.
TRANSPORT TO LOCATION: There are local buses from Santiago about three times a day and rental car companies (only in Santiago) as well as transfer services organized by surf tour operators.
BEST SEASON: January through March and September through December. Storms from the Antarctica are Chile’s wave machine; they are constantly hitting the coast. Together with strong SW winds they create perfect wave kite conditions, especially from October to December. Chile offers perfect topographical conditions for wind and waves. When a stable Pacific anti-cyclone is given, the dry interior lands and the hot desert in the north suck the cold ocean air (created by the Pacific Humboldt current) up along Chile’s coast, creating strong southerly winds. On sunny days, the wind starts turning SW in the early afternoon creating perfect side-onshore conditions, mostly between 20-25, sometimes up to 35 knots. These effects are unreliable during the Chilean winter (May-Aug) but start building up again during September and peak in November and December, the months with the best wind statistics. The Humboldt current constantly delivers S-SW swells from the Antarctica to the Chilean coast, producing perfect wave kite conditions (due to the swell direction mostly left-handers).
WIND RANGE IN KNOTS: Mostly between 20-25, sometimes up to 35 knots.
WATER AVERAGE: During the South American spring (Sep-Nov) and summer (Dec-Feb), the average temperature in Matanzas is approx. 70-80°F, allowing for sunbathing in wind-protected areas but requiring a sweater or windbreaker at night. Because of the polar Humboldt current, the water temperature is approx. 60-65°F so a wetsuit is inevitable all year.
LOCAL RULES /SAFETY HAZARDS: Ask local riders about the right of way rules that apply when riding waves with the kite or use the guiding services of surf tour operators.
LOCAL TRANSPORTATION: Only rental car (in Santiago) or surf tour operators as taxis are hardly available.
AVG COST OF TRANSPORT RECOMMENDATION PER RIDE OR PER DAY: Depending on the mode of transportation, it starts at $50/day for a rental car.
LODGING RECOMMENDATIONS AND COSTS:
Roca Cuadrada Hostel offers clean rooms and bathrooms directly on the beach. Dorm beds starting at $25/night.
Alba Hotel Boutique, starting at $130/night, is on the beach and has a very good restaurant that is reasonably priced.
OMZ Hotel offers rooms, cabins and camping. The rooms have oceanviews and modern architecture, each with its own style, unique design and a different touch. The cabins have hot tubs. Double rooms start at $150/night.
LOCAL SHOPS/SCHOOLS: Board rental and surf lessons are available at all the aforementioned hotel. www.kite-chile.com (kite surf travel agency offering guiding and kite lessons in english, spanish and german), https://es-la.facebook.com/tiburonescueladekitesurfiko (kite school offering lessons in spanish)
ONE THING EVERY VISITOR MUST DO: After having enjoyed wind and waves, don’t forget to dive into the Chilean culture and cuisine, e.g. by sipping a delicious Pisco Sour while watching a spectacular sunset from the hotel Surazo’s terrace right on the beach.
Words and photos by Michael Willisch | www.kite-chile.com
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