CENTRAL BEACHES AND MARBELLA

By Loyce Hamilton Burns

While probably not included on your itinerary of must visits, the unique atmosphere of both Horcon and Cau-Cau beaches warrant a trip. Linked with a stay at the Marbella beachside resort, you’ll have had a good run for your adventure. Accessed via Route 5 north, the most direct turnoff to Horcon exits left at Nogales (follow signs to Marbella). Immediately, the road changes from paved to bumpy dirt and takes you into a picturesque mountain area sparsely populated and very green. While the lack of road signs and remoteness of this route may stimulate a bit of panic, relax, you will eventually end up on paved road and in the town, Puchuncavi. Continue on a few more unpaved roads using the signs to navigate your way to the small, fishing cove of Horcon.

Fishermen’s voices fill the air as they chant and shout out their various catches of the day. Wandering around their makeshift shops of truck beds or boats gives you a real flavor of those who exist by and from the sea. Women with brown weathered faces busily weave nets or clean fish on wooden boards set on the bows of their boats. Pelicans in force add to the hustle bustle as they clamor for the discarded fish entrails thrown on the shoreline. Swarming only inches away, the pelicans give spectators an intimate view of themselves. You can actually see the aqua and green fluorescent hue of their feathers, while the baggy, rubbery underside of their beaks jiggle and expand as entire fish heads slip down their throats.

The fishing town character, laced with a bohemian flavor, has long-haired-thirty-somethings offering an assortment of artesania: mystic-looking crystal pendants hang on leather cords or tie-dyed scarves and shirts. Their booths line the road that runs just in front of the beach. Clustered at the base of wooded cliffs and extending up into the hillside, two-story wooden houses and small restaurants dot the landscape. Enjoy and take in the sights and activity. But for a lazy day stretching out on a towel, travel to Cau-Cau located directly on the other side of the cliff from Horcon.

While the access to Cau-Cau proves difficult, its white sands and beauty make the challenge of getting there worth it. Keep in mind, after you’ve made the third wrong turn, that this also prevents the beach from getting overloaded with hoards of people.

On the dirt road to Horcon, you will drive down a hill into the village. Just as the road begins to descend, pay attention to a blue store on the right. At this store, look to the left and you will see a brick wall with “cau cau” painted on it in small white letters. You turn left here and meander up to a eucalyptus bordered parking area at the end of the road. For 500 pesos, a young attendant guards your car for the day.

You can now access the beach via steep wooden steps. During your descent, glimpse through the scanty fence that runs along the stair case providing privacy to several homes. Like the artisans at Horcon, these homes exude a hippie style: frugal yet eccentric, dome-shaped, and overloaded with windows whose shelves house bottle candleholders and books.

A nudist beach many years ago, Cau- Cau renders a seclusion and tranquil atmosphere not easily obtained at other beaches. Caballo de Mar, a small restaurant, sits right on the beach and offers a sea food Epicurean delight. If you aren’t into large oysters fresh from Horcon or sopa de mariscos, try a cheese, avocado and tomato sandwich. Just sipping tea con leche on the restaurant’s outdoor wooden deck with sand on your bare feet and ocean breezes blowing your hair is fun and novel.
Now that you have traveled off the beaten path, end the day at Marbella Resort and continue your adventure away from the fast pace of city life!

Marbella Resort, considered cost prohibitive by many, offers various packages and reduced prices in the off-season. It earned its 5-star rating for a reason: spread on the cliffs above the exquisite coastline of Aguas Blancas, the hotel’s windows frame endless seascape views.

You can also enjoy the changing colors of the sea from emerald green to foreboding black on various benches along a well-kept and complete golf course. Kid friendly, with a separate golf course made just for the younger generation, they also provide rentals for horseback riding, bicycling, and four-wheeler motorcycles.

If golfing isn’t your thing, there are tennis courts, two outdoor swimming pools, and a full spa complete with exercise equipment, Jacuzzi and a massage therapist.

Unhindered by city smog, pine trees and flowers scent the salty air. Visions of the sea fill your mind, whether you ponder it from the panoramic windows of the hotel restaurant or out on the three-story-high wooden porch of the resort’s beachside restaurant, the Pajarera. Tucked away on the coast between Zapallar and Horcon, the location offers many worthwhile and close-by visits to various beaches.

Give yourself a luxurious treat, with a low season visit to \par Marbella Resort. Call their office in Vitacura at 242-1515 or at the resort at 32-931-155.