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Overview

For its size — less than 40 square miles — no destination in the world enjoys greater literary notoriety than Robinson Crusoe Island, where Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk spent four years' lonely exile in the early 18th century. After his rescue, his tale became part of Daniel Defoe's famous novel, but the island itself is even more notable for its exuberant vegetation and wildlife. It is now a national park, with rare endemic species including trees, birds, and the Juan Fernández fur seal, and plenty of hiking trails through its rugged mountains. Half the island is lush rainforest, while the other half is a rainshadow ...

For its size — less than 40 square miles — no destination in the world enjoys greater literary notoriety than Robinson Crusoe Island, where Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk spent four years' lonely exile in the early 18th century. After his rescue, his tale became part of Daniel Defoe's famous novel, but the island itself is even more notable for its exuberant vegetation and wildlife. It is now a national park, with rare endemic species including trees, birds, and the Juan Fernández fur seal, and plenty of hiking trails through its rugged mountains. Half the island is lush rainforest, while the other half is a rainshadow desert.

Robinson Crusoe, 414 miles west of Valparaíso, is accessible by air taxi from Santiago or, less frequently, by boat from Valparaíso. Weather sometimes delays flights. It has surprisingly good services in the tiny community of San Juan Bautista — the island's only settlement. The archipelago's other two islands, nearby Santa Clara and the more remote Alejandro Selkirk, are less frequently visited.

Chile's best known Pacific island, Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui), 2,300 miles west of mainland Chile, is covered in a separate report.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer (November through March)