Castro is the largest city on Chiloe Island and also the capital. Upon entering the city, along the Ruta 5, on the right are the famous “palifito” houses (houses on stilts). Around Castro there are other groups of these types of houses too.
On the main plaza is the San Francisco church, declared one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, along with 15 other Jesuit churches on the Island. There is also a large market that specialises in reasonably good quality hand-made goods.
Using Castro as a base, there are several islands to visit from here, as well as the other 15 UNESCO classified Jesuit churches, rolling, rural countryside, fishing villages and National Parks.
Chiloe Road Distances Between Key Places
- Ancud is 27km west from Cacao.
- Dalcahue is 66km south from Ancud.
- Castro is 88km south of Ancud.
- Chonchi is 30km south of Castro - At Chonchi, you can go west to Cucao, this is 38km km west of Chonchi, past Lake Huillinco, whereupon there is access to a long and large beach that gets pounded by the Pacific waves.
- Quellon is 92km south of Castro and 180km south of Ancud.
Castro Nearby Places of Interest
There is a very well-preserved Jesuit Church (San Francisco) on the main plaza of Chiloe as well as a handicraft market down by the water that sells a myriad of knit wear, woollen-weaved garments and brik-a-brack.
Curaco de Velez Island
Curaco de Velez Island, served by a short ferry crossing from Dalcahue, which is about 25km north of Castro, is a hilly, rural island with small villages, beaches, coves, inlets and woods. The village of the same name as the island is a small place with a church by the plaza and adjacent, on the coast is a rustic-looking sea-food market where one can sit and enjoy freshly harvested, large, oysters.
Chiloe Reasonably Accessible Archipelago Islands to Visit
In the island archipelago east of Castro there are numerous islands connected by ferries. If you have the time, of course, you can visit all those that have a ferry service, however, for the purposes of practically we are only highlighting some of the more accessible islands here below.
Located south of Castro, and just past the village of Chonchi (home to the Chonchi UNESCO church) there is navigational access by ferry from Huicha. En-route to Chonchi is also the UNESCO church of Vilupulli.
Lemuy is home to nine, small villages. The ferry arrives to Chulchuy, on the south-western shore of Lemuy and from here are the locations for these UNESCO classified churches: Ichuac, Aldachildo and Detif. There are also remnants of a native Valdivian forest where there is a hanging walkway through the tree tops. In the south-eastern corner of Lemuy there is a narrow, almost sea level stretch of land that connects to an almost independent smaller sector of the island.
From Dalcahue, a village 25km north of Castro, is a ferry that takes visitors to Quinchao Island, where the village of Curaco de Veléz is located. This s a very small, quaint village dating back to 1660 and where the Quinchao Church is located. There is rolling countryside on this island as well as the Achao and Quinchao UNESCO Churches are to be found.
Caucahué if translated to English means “place of seagulls” (so watch out above your head!). This island is opposite the village of Quemchi, which is approximately halfway between Ancud, in northern Chiloe and Castro further south. To get here you need to divert east from the Ruta 5 to Quemchi.
On this island (population of around 638 inhabitants as per the 2021 census), are still native forests that come down to the sea. It is home to a variety of birds.
To get to the island it requires a short, 20-minute ferry crossing from Quemchi
Located a little south of Quemchi, which itself is located on the eastern coast halfway between Ancud in the north and Castro further south, this island is actually connected to the mainland by way of a wooden footbridge. The island is cut off by the tide, thus it is only an island at high tide. On the island is a large botanical garden that contains all of the naïve flowers and trees of Chiloé.