Located 674 kilometers off the coast of Chile, Robinson Crusoe Island is the largest of three islands in the Chilean Juan Fernandez Islands, with the other two being Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara islands, and it appeals to both nature enthusiasts and literature-lovers. No matter what causes you to travel to Robinson Crusoe Island, the visit is sure to enhance your Chile vacation.
Robinson Crusoe Island features a Mediterranean climate, with wet, cool winters and dry, warm summers. The terrain is hilly, with steep valleys created by volcanic activity, lava flows, and subsequent erosion. The highest part of the island is 916 meters above sea level.
Initially, this island was the Juan Fernandez Island, named after the Spanish captain who landed there in 1574. However, in 1966, the Chilean government renamed it the Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966. As its name suggests, Robinson Crusoe Island has a literary connection. Daniel Defoe found inspiration for his novel in the real adventures sailor Alexander Selkirk experienced here. When Selkirk, in the middle of a voyage on the Cinque Ports ship in 1704, stopped on the Juan Fernandez Islands for re-stocking, he asked to be left on the island because he thought the ship was unsafe. Bringing only a musket, gunpowder, a knife, carpenter's tools, a Bible, and some clothing, Selkirk survived in solitude for four years and four months.
In addition to enjoying the island's literary significance, visitors can also engage in activities such scuba diving, including around the wreck of the German SMS Dresden. Alternatively, hiking and fishing are also possible. You can visit the Santa Bárbara Fort, a Spanish Fortress in the village of San Juan Bautista, and walk along the El Mirador Alejandro Selkirk to a lookout.
Robinson Crusoe Island and the other two islands in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago are also known for their endemic flora and fauna species. One such species is the Juan Fernandez Firecrown, an endangered red hummingbird. As a result of their scientific importance, the islands have been considered World Biosphere Reserves since 1977.
Travel to Robinson Crusoe Island is possible by air. There is an airstrip near tip of the southwestern peninsula, and a flight from Los Cerrillos Airport will take around three hours. From the airstrip, you can take a ferry to the island's main village, San Juan Bautista. The best time of year to travel to Robinson Crusoe Island is between October and April, when the weather is the best. Accommodation options on Robinson Crusoe island include rustic inns and camping. Be aware that there are no banks or sophisticated medical facilities on the island.
Because it less easy to reach that other attractions in Chile, the Juan Fernandez Islands don't see the same heavy tourist traffic as other attractions. Whether you are drawn to Robinson Crusoe Island by literary, scientific, historical, or athletic interests, the island is sure to be a unique stop on any Chile vacation.