Chiloe Island, also known as Isla Grande de Chiloé, is one of 30 islands that make up the Chiloe archipelago in the Lakes Region of southern Chile. It is the first island you see when you cross the Chacao Channel by ferry. The island is well known for its palafitos, which are colorful wooden houses on stilts along the water's edge. There are also more than 150 iconic wooden churches from the 18th and 19th centuries, and 16 of them are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Chiloe archipelago remained isolated from the rest of Chile until nearby Puerto Montt was founded in the mid-19th century. As a result, the area has a distinct culture that includes mythology based on witchcraft. You'll also find unique cuisine on the islands that is different from other parts of the country.
Aside from learning about the culture, visitors also come to Chiloe Island to explore the landscape. The island has rolling hills and farmland to the north and dense forest in the south. Animal sightings are a popular attraction as well. Visitors sometimes see Chilote foxes, humpback whales, and hundreds of species of birds. Tantauco Park, in the southern part of the island, has a large network of hiking trails where visitors can be closer to nature.
From Puerto Montt, you can reach Chiloe Island by taking a bus that crosses the Chacao Channel by ferry to Castro. Castro is about 4 hours from Puerto Montt.