Vina del Mar: A Chilean Coastal Community’s Daily Ritual at Sunset
Vina del Mar is a coastal resort city near Valparaiso, Chile. I’ve been there several times and I’m always charmed by it. It feels a bit undiscovered and out of the way. Tourists generally go to Santiago—which is an hour and a half drive inland—or to Valparaiso, the bustling regional port. Vina del Mar is a city of tree-lined boulevards, beaches, and residential towers with views to the Pacific Ocean. Like many coast communities, it has a feel and rhythm that’s inexplicably tied to the sea. At day’s end, it seems people wander over to the sea. All of these photos were taken during those wonderfully bewitching moments, as the glowing sun makes its daily descent into the Pacific. The cover image was taken moments after the sun disappeared beyond the horizon.
The low wall marks the edge of the promenade where the large breakwater rocks are piled up against the sea. On my many trips here I notice that people are mesmerized by the dramatic sky and ship traffic passing by. The ships are heading to and from Valparaiso, which is just a few miles away towards the south.
The concrete steps allow easy access to the rocks and the top of the wall. People love to hang out on the rocks, precariously close to the crashing waves. The elemental nature of it all, and the associated risk, is quite different from the “safety” concerns of so many new waterfront districts around the world. The commercial stalls are probably licensed to locals who occupy the same positions every day.
This vendor occupies a central spot along the seafront walk. He waits patiently for customers as people drift by on their evening walk or run.
As the sun goes down he begins to close up for the day. He rolls up components of his shop and folds the screens and canopies to secure the contents for business the next day.
Teenagers dare to climb onto the rocks for a more intense experience of the crashing waves and spectacular sunsets so often seen in this part of Chile.
A more permanent restaurant occupies a prime location along the waterfront. The upstairs dining room, with its large floor to ceiling windows, offers a stunning view of the Pacific. Like a lantern on the seashore, it’s a landmark for the local community.
All photos by the author.