Isla Chañaral is located just off the Central Chilean coast and, along with two other smaller islands, is part of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. The islands are an important breeding site for Humboldt Penguins. Sea lions rest on the rocky cliff ledges, while rare South American marine otters have been known to slide in and out of the waters along the coastline, and playful bottlenose dolphins swim in the surrounding seas. The island itself consists of an upper and a lower plateau. The lower level is covered in shrubby vegetation peppered with cacti, while the high plateau appears desolate in contrast.