Escaped the mountains to accompany a friend to the beach in the final days of her much-needed vacation. There is a well-known surfer's beach, called Santa Catalina beach, about an hour and a half outside Santiago going southwest.(?) But heading a little more east upon reaching the Sona crossroad is a less populated locale called Playa El Estero. That's where we went. It's a less rocky-bottomed spot, with challenging albeit not treacherous waves, and provides a comfortable overall surfing experience. (So I'm told, given I don't surf.)
While we were there, I observed a 3 yr old practicing his surfing skills and was suitably impressed.
Accommodations in the area are rustic, but we found lodging with air conditioning and private bathrooms right on the beachfront. There is an "eco" resort nearby that I passed up without hesitation.
My apologies to the proprietors, but I want screens and plumbing if I am going to pay to sleep somewhere. And my needs are not all that demanding, really. We settled for a funky place right at the road's end and on the waterfront. Private baths, window screens, and air conditioning made the difference. It turned out to have the best restaurant and bar in town, as well. Stuffed my face to the point of shame. I highly recommend the coconut shrimp curry or fried fish fillet with an ice cold Atlas. And they also have excellent salads.