As we enter our spring and summer seasons at this part of the hemisphere, we have selected the exclusive beach resort Punta del Este as our Destination of the Month.
Punta del Este (Eastern Point) is a small peninsula located on the East of Uruguay where the River Plate and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Its international architectural structures along with its beautiful beaches and waters have converted this resort into one of the most popular and important in South America. Punta Del Este provides the best opportunities for upscale living and enjoyment of its beautiful beaches and waters.
Access to this touristic venue is quite accessible. A regional airport lies close to the resort with good flight frequencies, mainly coming from Buenos Aires. This airport also has capacity and logistics for private planes. For regional tourists, cars might be the best option as they can cross from Argentina on a ferry boat and then drive for about 3-hours. Buses, departing from Montevideo are extremely comfortable and are only 2 hours ride. Small and luxurious yachts arrive during this season from all over the world. And the ever-growing numbers of cruise ships always provide a large amount of tourists from around the world looking for exclusive venues to visit.
During the summer season from mid-December to late March, this site is buzzing with tourists and full of activities and sport events, both during the day and night.
On one side of the peninsula, the completely calm waters are very much appreciated by families that enjoy the day on the beach. These calm waters have led to name the principal stretch of beach as “Mansa” (docile). On the other side, the big wave beaches are preferred by those who love to practice surf and other wave-riding sports which receives the name of “Brava” (fierce). Brava Beach is also known for the famous "La Mano", which is a sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal. It represents five human fingers that emerge from the sand.
Punta Ballena lies towards the west of Punta Del Este and has become one of the world’s most important touristic places to visit. It became world known due to the Uruguayan artist and sculptor, Carlos Paez Vilaró, who sculpted an entire building, “Casapueblo”, with his own hands and took 36 years to finalize. It is now a habitable compound that includes a museum with the artist’s work, a 5-star hotel where one can enjoy an evening out on the balcony and watch the breath taking sun going down while the artist’s recorded voice recites a homage to the sun every day.
Another popular activity is taking evening walks on the main avenue, Gorlero, where it’s full of shops, restaurants, local handicrafts, casinos, malls and cinemas. Isla Gorriti (Island of Gorriti) is a very small island just off the coast of Punta del Este’s “Mansa” beach and can be visited during the day by boat. It offers another exclusive landscape and view of the summer beach resort and is widely utilized by yachts who are seeking to practice water sports away from the crowds.
Other important sites to visit on the outskirts of Punta del Este are, the unique round bridge of Laguna Garzón, the quiet and exclusive José Ignacio, Isla de Lobos (Seal Island) the largest sea lion colony in the world, as well as other lower key resorts such as La Paloma or La Pedrera and fishing villages such as Punta del Diablo, Aguas Dulces, Balizas and Cabo Polonio.
Lodging in Punta Del Este is wide and has variety of accommodations which includes hotels with bed and breakfast, hostels and fully furnished apartments of all ranges which can be rented for short terms.
As Punta Del Este is an important beach resort, it counts with an enormous variety of restaurants, fast food outlets and 24-hour supermarkets. The most important regional chefs wait for this time of the year to open their exclusive restaurants with the most ample variety of gourmet dishes and excellent wines.
Night life is a special chapter that not many people are accustomed to. After enjoying beach and water activities during the day, everyone goes out to dinner. After midnight, night life ignites and teenagers -and not-so-teenager but with a young spirit- go out for happy hours before entering discos and pubs at 3am where they’ll dance till the morning hours.
All of this makes Punta Del Este a 24-hour activity resort from December through March, at which time the resort will go to sleep for the winter waiting for the new season to burst into life again.
Written by Jennifer Sprigings
LARM Uruguay Country Director