The small village of Quintay (pronounce – keen-tie), sits comfortably on Chile’s coast, near Valparaiso and 76 miles (122 km) from Santiago.
As you sit on the isolated shore and gaze at the breath-taking beauty of this area, a bustling whaling industry is difficult to picture.
Between 1943-1967, whaling was big business in Quintay. The town exploded with workers, many from the copper mines, to reach a pinnacle number of 1,000. The company INDUS saw profit in an ample supply of whales located in shallow waters off the coast. At the height of production, harpoon equipped whaling boats could hunt and kill sixteen whales/day. An estimated 2,100 were killed per year for their oil.
Since the whaling ban (Note: the world community (exception Japan) banned whaling in 1967), the whales have returned to the clear, shallow waters to calve. Today, the village has returned to fishing and tourism. And the beauty of the island is, once again, unspoiled.
This is not a fly-in, fly-out destination. You have to want to come here. There isn’t even a grocery store, much less a Hilton. There are places to stay, think along the lines of hostels. The semi-circle of the harbor boasts wonderful restaurants. We ate fresh fish and crab (Jaiba) at Gato. Regardless of your restaurant selection, it will be a gastronomical treat. Suggestion: order your fish fried. Because of the consistency the seafood’s meat, it is a more tasty dish.
In addition to meditating on the beauty around you, Quintay is known for great diving in the crystal blue waters. Snorkeling is also available; however, the real focus is on diving. You can take lessons, rent equipment, go with a group or a private excursion. See the beauty above and that which swims beneath the surface.