It is summertime in Chile. Rejoice! On weekends, Chileans (and tourists) flock to the beach to spend three glorious days soaking up the sun, enjoying the scenery and indulging in some ice cold alcoholic beverages. Vina del Mar is a popular destination located 1.5 hours by bus from Santiago. But if you take a short bus trip north from Vina (CLP$350/one way) you will find yourself in the small little beach town of Reñaca.
There are many reasons why I prefer Reñaca over the neighboring Vina del Mar. Firstly; I love the atmosphere as all the houses are built on a hill with little elevators that constantly go up and down. Second, it is a largely a cuico destination (cuico: a Chilean term used to refer to someone or something from the higher social class) which translates into a heightened police presence in the area thus making is the safer alternative to Vina.
Inside Le Don, a bar located right in front of the beach. Time to dance away the night!
Third, the large stretch of beach includes numerous lounges located right on the sand with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and a number of locales where you can rent surf and body boards.
The surf shops right on the beach
Lastly, after taking a dip in the ocean, there are a couple of beach lounges across the main road with drink specials and dance music. My friends and I visited Le Don to get our drink on and we were invited to the VIP room where sat on a terrace watching the sun set over the water whilst sipping our complementary welcome drinks.
The view from the VIP lounge at Le Don
Unfortunately I did not have an opportunity to go to any restaurants (except for McDonalds) but we DID pass buy a small restaurant selling cheap empanadas that smelled heavenly! Reñaca is so small that everything that is worth seeing is walking distance (ask around and you will probably find this empanada mecca). If you are planning on renting an apartment in this area, be prepared to pay a high price. My advice is to stay in Vina del Mar and opt for the bus (10 minutes) or walk the 30 minutes and enjoy the breath-taking scenery.
The view of Renaca if you decide to walk there from Vina del Mar