And Beyond

Legendary Robinson Crusoe Island is part of the Juan Fernández Archipelago, located 414 miles off the coast of Chile. The three islands in the group—Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara—were originally discovered by Portuguese sailor Juan Fernández in 1575.

These are the islands where Scottish mariner Alexander Selkirk was marooned in 1704. The four years he spent on the island became the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s classic novel, Robinson Crusoe.

After Selkirk’s rescue, the islands became a haven for Dutch and English pirates. Numerous 18th Century forts and cannons dot the islands.

In 1977 the archipelago was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Seventy percent of the plant species on the islands are found nowhere else. The archipelago is also home to three endemic bird species, including the colourful Juan Fernandez firecrown hummingbird. Other residents include fur seals and the descendents of the goats that sustained Selkirk during his stay.

Robinson Crusoe's marine ecosystem is equally interesting. Divers enjoy excellent visibility, sunken ship wrecks, steep sea cliffs and vast schools of endemic fish species. The primary source of revenue for the island’s small community of residents is the harvest of spiny lobsters, salmon and tuna that live in the surrounding waters. Sport fishing excursions are popular with visiting travellers.

Visitors to this lush, 40-square mile tropical island can retrace the steps Selkirk took each day as he hiked from his cave to a mountaintop lookout. The cave is located on a beach 10 miles away from the village of San Juan Bautista in Cumberland Bay. Horseback riding tours are also available.

The best way to reach the islands is by air; regular 2.5-hour flights are scheduled between Santiago, Chile and the island’s airstrip. Once there, an hour long water taxi cruise will take you to town, where accommodations are available at a handful of lodges. We recommend a three-day program.