Accommodations and Food
The cheapest accommodations alternative is camping, but San Juan Bautista also has a handful of B&B accommodations that consistently serve local lobster for dinner. Since accommodations are limited, reservations are important in January and February. Nowhere except perhaps Pangal will visitors be able to avoid barking dogs at night.
Just above the shoreline, the municipal Camping Los Cañones (Vicente González s/n) has cheap sites with basic bathrooms and cold showers. Uphill from the gymnasium, just north of the Embarcadero, Residencial Barón de Rodt (La Pólvora s/n, tel. 0322/751109, baronderodt [at] yahoo [dot] es, US$15 pp) has just two double rooms, so reservations are almost essential; its tobacco-free restaurant prepares superb fish and other dishes at reasonable prices.
Just uphill from Fuerte Santa Barbará, Residencial Mirador de Selkirk (El Castillo 251, tel. 0322/751028, mfernandeziana [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$22 pp) is an attractive three-room B&B (shared bath only) that’s also one of the best places to eat—fish doesn’t get any fresher, nor any better prepared, than it does here. The deck has ocean views.
Hostal Charpentier (Ignacio Carrera Pinto 256, tel. 0322/751070, fax 0322/751020, www.hostalcharpentier.cl, US$56/92 s/d with half board, US$65/111 s/d with full board) also rents a separate cabaña (US$56 without meals) that sleeps up to three people.
Directly across from the police station, run by an ex-Carabinero, Hostal Petit Breuilh (Vicente González 84, tel. 0322/751107, crusoepetit [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$34/46 s/d with breakfast, US$49/68 s/d with half board, US$56/94 s/d with full board) is another good choice; the first night’s dinner includes lobster. Some suggest, though, that its recent expansion has focused on quantity before quality.
Set back from the plaza, Hostería Martínez-Green (Larraín Alcalde s/n, tel./fax 0322/751039, US$33 pp with breakfast, US$46 pp with half board, US$65 pp with full board) is a decent choice.
With its rickety exterior and shoreline location, the quirky Hostería Aldea Daniel Defoe (Daniel Defoe 449, tel./fax 0322/751075, aldeadf [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$51 pp with breakfast, US$62 pp with half board, US$70 pp with full board) will be the first to go in the next tsunami, but it remains a decent choice for both accommodations and food.
New on the scene, on the waterfront footpath to El Palillo, tobacco-free Hostería Refugio Náutico (Ignacio Carrera Pinto s/n, tel. 0322/751077, www.islarobinsoncrusoe.cl, US$65 pp with half board, US$75 pp with full board) has added an element of style to San Juan’s accommodations—while not luxurious, it’s bright and cheerful, and the private baths have tubs as well as showers. The promising restaurant has an ocean-view deck for sunny days and warm evenings, but the kitchen’s results have been uneven so far.
Reached by a shuttle launch from the Embarcadero or a scenic 45-minute hike that switchbacks up the slope from El Palillo before following the road the rest of the way, Lassa’s Hostería El Pangal (tel. 0322/751112 or tel. 02/2734354, fax 02/2734309 in Santiago, US$91/160 s/d with half board) has smallish but recently refurbished rooms, some of which have balconies, with private baths (shower only). The gardens (which include a small pool) and deck are ideal for a sunset dinner, but it’s showing its age (about 40 years) in some aspects.
San Juan has few places to eat other than its accommodations, and at these, it’s almost imperative to give some notice—preferably at least a day for lobster. El Nocturno (Larraín Alcalde s/n, tel. 0322/751113) is more a sandwich place, while El Bahía (Larraín Alcalde s/n) prepares outstanding lobster despite its modest appearance.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition