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Isla Negra is best known as the residence of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who lived there at Casa de Isla Negra (with long periods of travel and exile) from 1939 until his death in 1973. The area was christened by Neruda himself, after the dark outcrop of rocks just offshore. It literally means "black island" in Spanish. The Casa de Isla Negra is now a museum that is well visited all year around and especially during summer.
Every year on Neruda's birthday (July 12), there are celebrations, both at the house and in the artisans' square nearby. There are poetry readings, music and picnics on the beach.
Although most tourists come in buses to see Neruda's house, there is also a thriving community of writers, artists and artisans who live in Isla Negra and the surrounding area. It is a favorite vacation spot for middle-class families from Santiago and there are many cabins and restaurants, craft shops, an Imaginary Boat open to visitors up Av. Central and the possibility of eco-tours.
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