Much of Chile's coastline is rugged, with surf that seems to explode against the rocks lying at the feet of high bluffs. This collision of land and sea gives way every so often to lovely beaches of various lengths, some of them encased by the bluffs. The Humboldt Current, which originates northwest of the Antarctic Peninsula (which juts into the Bellingshausen Sea) and runs the full length of the Chilean coast, makes the water frigid. Swimming at Chile's popular beaches in the central part of the country, where the water gets no warmer than 15 °C (59 °F) in the summer, requires more than a bit of fortitude.
Chilean territory extends as far west as Polynesia. The best known of Chile's Pacific Islands isEaster Island (Isla de Pascua, also known by its Polynesian name of Rapa Nui), with a population of 2,800 people. Located 3,600 km (2,237 mi) west of Chile's mainland port of Caldera, just below the Tropic of Capricorn, Easter Island provides Chile a gateway to the Pacific. It is noted for its 867 monoliths (Moais), which are huge (up to twenty meters high) and mysterious, expressionless faces sculpted of volcanic stone. The Juan Fernández Islands, located 587 km (365 mi) west of Valparaíso, are the locale of a small fishing settlement. They are famous for their lobster and the fact that one of the islands, Robinson Crusoe Island, is where Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's novel, was marooned for about four years.