Arriving at Playa la Virgen was like when Leonardo Dicaprio finally found the turquoise waters and white sands in the movie The Beach. After an epic 12-hour road trip through the Atacama Desert that ended with our passenger door almost falling off, roadside food poisoning and a GPS that tried to direct us off a cliff, we had finally reached our first destination.
Playa la Virgen is a caribbean-style beach in the Atacama Desert known for its clear turquoise water and blinding white sand. A rock formation that naturally simulates the image of the Virgin Mary gave this secluded beach its name and the locals believe she protects the area. Drive past the creepy rock and you’ll find beach bungalows made out of mud, reeds, stone and wood built into the edge of the desert to maintain the natural landscape of the area. If getting closer to nature is more your thing, Playa la Virgen offers camping sites where you can wake up to some of the most spectacular views in Chile. There’s only one restaurant, but the food is delicious, the cocktails refreshing and the service friendly.