Isla Negra is one of three of Chile’s favorite poet, Pablo Neruda’s homes-turned-museums that are open to visitors. Despite what its name might indicate, it is on the Chilean coast, not on an island. The house is built to resemble a boat, complete with low ceilings and narrow hallways with small doorways. It is filled with Neruda’s eclectic collections of knicknacks including glassware, ship figureheads, shells and other nautical-related collections, some of which are located in a room dedicated to ocean-related paraphernalia.
Neruda, along with his wife lived in this house throughout most of his life, with occasional absences when he was out of the country, or in either of his other two houses, La Chascona (in Santiago), or La Sebastiana (in Valparaíso). After he died, in 1973, there was a period of time when the house stood empty, and some of its treasures pillaged, but enough remains of the collections to fill nearly every surface of the house anyway.
The museum is run by a foundation, which rents audio guides in English, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese. During the longer summer hours in January and February, the house is open until 8, but otherwise closes at 6, and is closed on Mondays.
In the spring and summer, the coastal plants bloom pink and purple in the wild gardens in front of the house. And you time your visit with low tide, you can check out the creatures in the nearby tidal pools as well.