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This week I want to share with you one of my very first trips internationally and one that has always stuck with me as a memorable one: Uruguay. This trip to Punta del Este was past of a trip down to South America to Buenos Aires with a friend. Halfway through our stay, we decided to make a side trip to Punta Del Este, Uruguay.
This small seaside resort on the Atlantic Coast of southeastern Uruguay, with a population of about 9,280, booms during the summer months with summer tourists. For many in Buenos Aires, keeping a summer home in Punta del Este is like owning a hedged-in mansion in the Hamptons or the shores of South Lake Tahoe. However, with Rio’s exclusivity waning, it’s only now that Europeans and Americans are beginning to discover Punta Del Este’s gorgeous beaches and seductive routine of daily sunbathing and nightly carousing.
Guide to Punta Del Este: Your Key to a Memorable Trip
Getting to Punta Del Este. There are several ferry companies that offer services to and from Buenos Aires. A ferry takes you from BA to Colonia or Montevideo, then you take a 2-hour bus to Punta Del Este.
Where we stayed. We stayed at the Golden Beach Resort and Spa. Being a last-minute booking, we used expedia.com and we were able to find a good deal. This was towards the end of peak season. The Golden Beach Resort does offer a beautiful spa facility with world-class amenities. However, our massage experience was a tad odd; the different pools and steam rooms were worth checking out.
Explore the Best Beaches in La Barra
Beach-hop in La Barra, Punta’s trendiest neighborhood. Among the most popular stretches of sand are Montoya (preferred by surfers), and Bikini and Manantiales, dotted with toned, tanned bodies. Around four o’clock, follow the locals to Jose Ignacio Beach, where D.J.’s set up tiki torches for “chill-out” sessions in the sand.
Unforgettable Sights and Activities in Punta Del Este
Los Dedos. La playa de los Dedos, “The finger beach,” near the main street in Punta del Este, is close to a surf spot and has a giant hand emerging from the sand. This place is perfect for a photo opt.
Casa Pueblo. Break the beach-party-sleep routine with a visit to Casapueblo, a museum in a white-stucco castle that displays works by Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró—touted as South America’s Picasso.
Ralli Museum. There are plenty of other great museums to see as well, such as the world-famous Ralli Museum and it’s FREE! Here you’ll find Surrealist sculptures by Salvador Dalí, including his melting clock, along with bulbous human figurines by Fernando Botero and the cartoonish paintings of Beryl Cook. Alongside the European Modernist and Postmodernist work is an incredible collection of Latin American art.
Museum of the Sea. The Punta del Este Special Art Tour is a great way to view the Ralli Museum and Fundacion Pablo Atchugarry The Museum of the Sea in La Barra is home to 5,000 sea creatures – but not any that are alive. The old bits and bones, including whale skeletons, starfish shells, and urchin exoskeletons, provide a fascinating look into biology and geography along our Atlantic shores!
Shopping, Dining, and More: A Total Experience
Shop around town. Buy a hand-woven wool shawl from Manos del Uruguay, one of several local-designer boutiques on glitzy Avenida Gorlero. Down the street at the Feri Hippie (Hippie Market), sift through handmade jewelry, textiles, and baskets to find the perfect mate—a bulbous goblet made for sipping yerba maté, a strong tea as ubiquitous in Uruguay as Starbucks lattes are in Manhattan. The souvenir doubles as an object for your coffee table back home.
Tea Time. Famous for its water tower, the tearoom of L’Auberge, Punta’s most distinguished hotel, where locals converge at six o’clock to indulge in decadently sweet Belgian waffles with dulce de leche.
Sunset. Watch the sunset over Jose Ignacio Beach. Grab a medio y medio (half and half) which is a mix of sweet sparkling wine, and dry white wine, lay your blanket close to the shore, and enjoy Punta’s most popular spectator sport.
Indulge in the Gastronomy: Where to Eat Late in South America
The earliest acceptable dinner reservation is at 11 P.M. This goes for anywhere in South America! Book a table at Lo de Tere. This restaurant is beautiful, ideally located beside the yacht harbor; the service is professional, and the food is incredible.
Final Thoughts: A Trip to Remember
Visiting Punta Del Este was a memorable experience, offering a delightful blend of relaxation, excitement, and cultural immersion. From beach hopping to artistic explorations, shopping, and indulging in the local culinary delights, Punta Del Este provided a rich and fulfilling experience, reflecting the best of South American hospitality and charm. Whether you’re a sun-seeker or a lover of the nightlife, Punta Del Este has something for everyone, making it a must-visit destination in Uruguay.
I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.