Algarrobo Chile

Photo by Rodrigo Cartagena

If I asked you which country in the American Continent has the largest pool, you could not have guessed it is Chile (not a tropical place, to say the least). They used to have the world record, but a new pool in Egypt took away the top spot. They will lose it soon, a largest one is being built in Tampa, Florida. Coming back to Chile, this place is called San Alfonso del Mar and it is a short drive away from Santiago de Chile, it is close to a town called Algarrobo.

The pool is inside a private beach resort, only if you are staying in one of the condominiums (which different individuals own) would you have access to the pool. The resort is in front of the beach, the Pacific Ocean to be exact. It is more than 1,000 yards long, it covers 20 acres, has a 115-ft depth, and holds 66 million gallons of seawater fed by the Pacific Ocean.

Largest Pool in the American Continent

Photo by carolalou

If you are fan of swimming in very cold water, then this will be a great experience for you. Even when the sun is bright and hot, the water is really cold (being the Pacific Ocean, that is expected). There is a special section where you can access warm tubs fed by the same water, they charge for the entrance, there are amenities you can enjoy there (such as a gym, you have to pay for that too).

San Alfonso del Mar has restaurants inside, which have reasonably prices and plenty of menu choices. Alternatively, you may descend to the town of Algarrobo and buy groceries to bring back to your room. If you want to do some shopping of clothes, mementos, and presents to take with you, the town has some stores you could visit.

You have to time your arrival or you will find yourself with restaurants closed due to low season, or pools and hot tubs closed for maintenance. This is not a hotel but you can book a room on any traveling website; you are renting from private owners who have made changes and additions to the condominiums. Do not expect uniformity in the rooms, they are different from one another. Before you book a room, if possible, ask for plenty of pictures, and check what others are saying of the property, you can check in blogs, travel agency websites, or simply do a Google search. Do your homework, you need to do extensive research before you book your trip.

San Alfonso del Mar at Night

Photo by Basilio Robledo

One common complaint from tourists visiting Chile is the poor customer service culture in businesses, which seems endemic in the country. Expect rude employees and unhelpful civil servants that will do the least to help you in any way. This happens both in Santiago and the countryside, they just don’t care about tourists, even though their livelihoods depend on tourism. Infrastructure is also on the low-quality side, and this is true of utility services such as phone and internet.

You could find yourself stranded and incommunicado from the rest of the world, mobile phone service is patchy. Do not expect continuous internet service, when it is available, do not expect the fastest connection. Long distance calling services can be available, the culture of the internet café still exists in Chile.

You will not be alone though, people from all over the world visit this place, European, American, and Latin-American visitors flock this resort at many times during the year. No need to learn Spanish, although it wouldn’t hurt. Don’t rush to reserve a rental car, if you cannot afford it, ground transportation is available to travel to the resort.

In any case, this can be an excellent vacation and a great experience. One final recommendation, you may want to bring your own kayak, or rent one there, if you can. Believe me, you would not want to spend a lot of time swimming in that pool.