Robinson Crusoe Island
Robinson Crusoe Island: Más a Tierra
Formerly known as Más a Tierra, Robinson Crusoe Island is the largest landmass in the Juan Fernández Archipelago—a remote volcanic cluster, 418 miles west of the Chilean coast.
Spanish navigator Juan Fernández first discovered the archipelago on November 22, 1574, while off-course between Peru and Valparaiso, Chile.
Famously, Scottish mariner Alexander Selkirk was marooned here in 1704.
Daniel Defoe’s Inspiration
His four years as a castaway became the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s classic novel, Robinson Crusoe.
After Selkirk’s rescue, the islands served a fur seal hunting ground, a penal colony, and a haven for Dutch and English pirates.
The remains of six 18th century forts dot the islands; some still equipped with artillery.
Visitors to Robinson Crusoe Island can retrace the steps Selkirk took in his daily journeys to a mountaintop lookout.
Guided Tours, Birdwatching, Horseback Riding & Surfing
His cave home is located at Puerto Ingles Beach, ten miles from the village of San Juan Bautista in Cumberland Bay.
A variety of guided hikes are available, as is horseback riding, bird watching, surfing, and diving tours.
The primary source of revenue for the island’s small community of residents is the harvest of spiny lobsters, salmon, and tuna.
Sportfishing and Lobster Tours
Sportfishing trips and lobster tours can be arranged, along with tours of the workshops of fish-leather artisans.
The archipelago is incredibly bio-diverse; primarily due to its steep rise out of the Pacific, the islands support a broad range of habitats—coastal, grassland, forest, and montane.
Upwards of seventy percent of the archipelago’s native plant species can only be found there.
Three Endemic Bird Species
The Juan Fernández islands are also home to three endemic bird species, including Robinson Crusoe’s critically endangered Juan Fernandez Firecrown (Sephanoides fernandensis) hummingbird.
Excellent SCUBA Diving
The marine ecosystem supports sea lions, fur seals, grouper, wrasses, butterfly fish, moray eels, and a great variety of crustaceans.
Divers enjoy excellent visibility, enjoying options to visit steep walls, caves, and the wreck of the German cruiser Dresden.
The cold Humboldt Current influences the water temperature, which only rises above 60ºF in summer.
UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve
The Chilean government granted the islands national park status in 1935. In 1977, to further protect the its habitats and species, UNESCO declared the archipelago a World Biosphere Reserve.
These efforts have helped the fur seal and other populations recover, as conservationists work to remove invasive species.
The islands have a temperate climate, with average temperatures ranging from 75ºF to 80ºF and around 3.2 inches of monthly rainfall.
Rainfall is higher in the winter months from May to August.
January is the driest month, averaging less than one inch of rainfall. Frost and hail are possible at higher elevations.
Getting to Robinson Crusoe
Regularly scheduled flights, with an average flight time of 2.5 hours, link Robinson Crusoe Island with Santiago.
Upon arrival, an hour-long water taxi journey transports guests to San Juan Bautista, where a handful of small lodges provide accommodations.