This is the third post in a throwback series about day trips you can take from Santiago de Chile.
I lived in this fantastic city for a year 2010-2011, and I just love to talk about it and remember it, and I hope this information will be useful and interesting to anyone planning to spend some time there.
If you have been following my posts, you will know my love for sites with a literary connection. Well, Isla Negra is one of my favourites for its connection to the eccentric Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. If you have never heard of him, don’t worry I hadn’t either before I lived in Chile. He wrote mostly in Spanish so is not as well known in the English speaking world. His poems are apparently quite difficult to translate, and his work was also coloured negatively at the time by his commitment to communism. Anyway, you absolutely don’t have to be a fan of Neruda to enjoy visiting Isla Negra.
Neruda had 3 homes in Chile – one each in Santaigo, Valparaiso and Isla Negra. Isla Negra is the biggest and, in my opinion, most interesting of the three.
Isla Negra is a coastal area in El Quisco commune 110 km west of Santiago. Neruda lived there at Casa de Isla Negra from 1939 until his death in 1973 (rumoured to have been poisoned by Pinochet). Isla Negra (meaning black island) was named, by Neruda, after a dark outcrop of rocks offshore. Casa de Isla Negra is now a museum filled with an eclectic array of artifacts from Neruda’s life. The guided tour will give you lots of interesting facts, my favourites of which were that Neruda collected colourful glass goblets to drink his wine from as he believed it tasted better that way. He frequently wrote his poetry in green ink, as he considered green to be his color of hope. I also appreciate the fact that he had a house in the shape of a boat, by the sea, full of seafaring artifacts … yet was deathly afraid of drowning. He also inexplicably displayed a narwhal horn in his home. I suppose I would too if I could.
Photos inside were not allowed, so you are going to have to take my word for it until you can visit for yourself.
It’s worth knowing that the number of visitors allowed into the museum is restricted so on weekends and holidays this can mean an hour or two wait and a very crowded tour.
Every year on Neruda’s birthday (July 12), there are celebrations, both at the house and in the artisans’ square nearby. There are poetry readings, music and picnics on the beach. Take some time to walk down to the beach and browse the artisan wares being sold along the beach path.
There is a community of writers and artists around Isla Negra and it is a favourite vacation spot for families from Santiago with many cabins, restaurants, craft shops, an Imaginary Boat open to visitors up Av. Central.
You might also recognise the name Isla Negra as a Chilean wine, which I’m sure our friend Pablo would have approved wholeheartedly:
I like on the table, when we´re speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine
Pullman has a bus route departing Santiago that passes through Isla Negra. The buses leave from the Pajaritos and Alameda bus terminals, both located on the Metro Linea 1 (red line). Buses leave every 15-30 minutes and you’ll need to buy tickets at the station before boarding.
There is a Pullman office in the center of town in Isla Negra so it’s easy to find where to get the bus back.
Entry to the museum costs 10USD.
Complete your experience
Try reading one of Neruda’s poems (in your language of choice)
A new movie came out just a couple of months ago called Neruda!
Get yourself some fish and chips from one of the family-run seafood restaurants in the area. There are plenty to choose from.
Vacaciones by Wisin
I have always liked a bit of reggaeton, and this one is nice and chilled for a day at the beach.