Robinson Crusoe Island...
The most famous "deserted" island in the World

Chile Travel: Robinson Crusoe Island, San Juan Bautista
Robinson Crusoe Island, San Juan Bautista

Robinson Crusoe island is also known as Juan Fernandez island, located in the archipelago of the same name, just over 400 miles (570 km) off the coast of Chile, right in front of the port of Valparaiso, Chile.

This volcanic island of ragged and mountainous topography was discovered by accident in 1575 by Portuguese sailor Juan Fernandez and remained pretty much unknown apart from becoming a favorite refuge for pirates such as Edward Davis, John Eaton and Bartholomew Sharp among others.

Its everlasting fame, however, was originated over one century later, when the Scotsman sailor Alexander Selkirk was rescued in 1708, after spending four years and four month stranded in the island.

His experience was the raw material that inspired Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) to write world famous Robinson Crusoe, first published in April 1719.

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Through this book he achieved international recognition and compelled him to write the sequels...

Both with varying degree of success. However, he is regarded as the founder of the English novel.

For reasons unknown, Alexander Selkirk ended up confined to this remote, lost island in the middle of nowhere. To some, he was put ashore at his own request, to others instead, it was a punishment of insubordination.

Chile Travel: Robinson Crusoe Island
Robinson Crusoe Island - © Matthew Munford

The archipelago of Juan Fernandez is composed of three islands...

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Home to one of the most highly endemic ecosystems in the world, with unique species such as the Juan Fernandez Hummingbird or the fur seal, the island was declared national park - Juan Fernandez National Park (1935) - and later, World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, in 1977.

Robinson Crusoe island is a lost paradise, a fascinating place of wild and unspoiled beauty. If you love nature and trekking, you are in for a feast.

Even though trekking is just about the only way to explore the island, you have the chance to practice other sports as well...

  • snorkeling
  • swimming (Pacific waters tend to be a bit cold though)
  • sport fishing

To find the best climate conditions, try to visit it between November and April. Your base will be the town of San Juan Bautista (John the Baptist) on Cumberland bay, home to the six hundred or so inhabitants of the place, who largely survive on the harvest of lobsters and fishing for tuna and salmon.

Chile Travel: Robinson Crusoe Island, lobsters
Robinson Crusoe Island, Lobsters © Serpentus-

Among the island's main attractions we find...

  • Santa Barbara fortress
  • Cultural House
  • English port
  • French port
  • Juan Fernandez National Park
  • Yunque Square (Yunque is the highest point in the island, some 960 meters)
  • Cerro Centinela
  • Mirador de Alexander Selkirk (Alexander Selkirk's lookout)
    Where he used to climb every day looking for a lift back home
  • Cave of Robinson
    Believed to be the cave where Selkirk lived. It's about ten miles from town and only accessed by boat

Robinson Crusoe island doesn't only belong to the realm of fantasy and adventure once imagined by Daniel Defoe nearly three centuries ago, it's also a true nature paradise and another South American gem awaiting for you...

How To Get There:

In high season there are daily flights - small planes up to 10 passengers and only small luggage allowed - departing form Los Cerrillos and Tobalaba airports in Santiago de Chile...

The flight takes around 2,5 hours to complete, arriving at La Punta airport. From there, a boat ride will take you to town. Be flexible with your time schedule, as only weather conditions rule and delays may occur.

You could also explore the possibility of getting a supply/fishing boat from the port of Valparaiso. However, this is irregular and not to rely upon unless you've got time to spare.

Where To Stay:

There is not luxury accommodation in San Juan Bautista, but a couple of clean and comfortable places to stay...

Just don't forget to carry some cash with you as there aren't ATMs on the island.


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