On the coast of Chile, you can find a paradise for poetry and history lovers called Isla Negra or “Black Island”. You’ll find yourself in a coastal landscape of the commune of El Quisco, in front of a sea of continuous waves that hit the dark-colored rocks. This was the home of the Nobel Prize in Literature Winner and one of the greatest Spanish-language poets of the 20th century,  Pablo Neruda. Here he lived and got the inspiration for many of his beautiful works of literature. If you’re considering a visit to Isla Negra, here’s everything you need to know to plan your next trip.  

Pomaire and Isla Negra Neruda House - Private Day Tour

About Isla Negra

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, lived at Casa de Isla Negra from 1939 until his death in 1973. Despite the name, it is actually not an island! Neruda name the area after the dark outcrop of rocks just offshore that looked like a black island. It is a small fishing cove about 100 miles west of Santiago, between Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. He wrote in his memoirs that Isla Negra’s “wild coastal strip… of turbulent ocean” was the perfect place to give himself “passionately to the writing of [his] new song”.

Pablo Neruda was a prolific writer of passionate love poems, historical epics, and political manifestos. Neruda was forced into exile for his political views as a Senator in the Chilean government. He wrote a collection of historical and sociopolitical poems called Canto General while hiding. Neruda gained recognition and support for his beliefs illustrated in these poems from admirers throughout Chile and the rest of the world, including Pablo Picasso.

Neruda consistently remodeled his home in Isla Negra to accommodate his vision. The house is designed like a boat, with low ceilings, large windows, narrow corridors, and a wooden floor. His personality is reflected all throughout the house where you can find his eclectic collections of seashells, bottles with different shapes and colors, masks, butterflies, swords, carousel horses, and many other curious possessions. Today it is a museum managed by the Neruda Foundation, it is also the gravesite of Pablo Neruda and his wife Matilde Urrutia. 

This house attracts visitors from all across the globe and is surrounded by a vibrant community of poets and artists continuing his legacy. 

Pomaire and Isla Negra Neruda House - Private Day Tour

How to Get There

By Car:

It is 138 Kilometers (86 miles) from Santiago by the Autopista del Sol or Ruta 78, the trip lasts approximately 1.4 hrs.

By Bus:

There are more than 15 daily departures from Santiago to Isla Negra, the price is $ 7,400 or USD $15 approximately. You can buy it directly at the bus Terminal Alameda, located just outside the Universidad de Santiago metro station.

With a Tour:

If you don’t want to stress about transportation, you could also book a tour which usually include transportation. This Isla Negra tour also includes a visit to the Matetic Winery and the artisan town of Pomaire. On this other Isla Negra tour, you can visit the Isla Negra Neruda house, the Emiliana Vineyard, and the resort town of Algarrobo.

 

Pomaire and Isla Negra Neruda House - Private Day Tour

 

Best Time to Visit 

Neruda’s home in Isla Negra is open from 9:30 am – 8 pm Tuesday through Sunday in the Chilean Summer (January 2 – February 28) and 10 am – 6 pm Tuesday through Sunday the rest of the year. In the summer it is a bit more crowded since locals go on vacation in this area seeking to escape the noise of Santiago, but any season is great to visit the famous house! 

The most festive day to visit is on Neruda’s birthday (July 12). Every year there are celebrations, both at the house and in the artisans’ square nearby. There are poetry readings, music, and picnics on the beach. 

English-speaking tours of the home are available and reservations are required. 

Why Should I Go?

If you want to fall in love with the coast of Chile just as Pablo Neruda did you need to visit this town. It is a town full of artists and rich in culture with a beautiful view of the Pacific south of Valparaiso. To walk where he walked and see where he got the inspiration for his famous poems is an experience of a lifetime for his readers. It’s an opportunity to experience the world through his eyes in another way, because thanks to this house, his poems aren’t the only way to experience his take on life.