This weekend, we drove down to the small resort town of Maitencillo on the coast east of Santiago.
Where we found that most of Santiago had gotten there before us. February is the official season for summer holidays in Chile - the cities empty and beach resorts fill up: every hotel room, hostel dormitory, caravan, camping space and roosting space under the highway overpasses is booked solid for the entire month.
Which is why we were making a day trip instead of a weekend of it - we'd foolishly underestimated the sheer NUMBER of people down there - those hostelries who didn't outright laugh at us or simply hang up on us made it clear that we'd be welcome some time mid-march - if we were willing to commit to a fortnight or so.
So we spent just the day instead.
The coast at Maitencillo is very VERY pretty. It is rocky and grand and ragged and cove-ish, rather than the sort of sweeping stretches of sand that we have in Australia. And the water is COLD - swimming at a Chilean beach is SERIOUSLY heroic - the Humboldt current sweeps up the coast of Chile bringing water from Antarctica all the way up past the Tropic of Capricorn.
One dips, rather than swims. One paddles and stays close the shoreline. But even icy waters are heaven on a hot summer day and every single stretch of sand was mobbed. And the rockpools, where the water was marginally warmer had to share their sea urchins and sea anemones with human swimmers.