The Caribbean is great, the clear water is picturesque, but eventually white sand beaches only evoke so much emotion. Not many people escape to Uruguay for a beach vacation, which is why it remains pristine, authentic and creates a special feeling.
Because Uruguay is not frequented by as many tourists as other classic vacation spots, it’s not littered with your typical all-inclusive resorts. Instead, you’ll find terrific, beautifully constructed boutique resorts that have been designed with care to have character.
When you visit a resort in major tourist destination, you miss out on the cultural activities specific to the location, so by avoiding these destinations, you can immerse yourself in a culture you previously knew nothing about. The Uruguayan people are extremely welcoming, happy to help and share a mate with you while they tell of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding their incredible nation.
On your first day of a run-of-the-mill vacation, you might head to the beach to take in some rays. On your second day, you may return to the same location, this time with a sunburn and a hangover. While this can be an easy, uneventful way to pass a week or two, a trip to Uruguay will stand out in your vacation album.
Visiting Uruguay will crush any stereotypes or misconceptions you may have about the South American country you’ve never visited before, and there’s no better place to start than Punta del Este. The upscale trendy town has a relaxed vibe and is lined with beautiful beaches and a gorgeous marina. You can also enjoy the unique art on Punta del Este’s main beach—an enormous hand sculpture creeping its way out of the sand.
If you choose Punta del Este as your beach destination, catch the little boat from the town’s marina over to Isla Gorriti. This island, located just off the coast of the city, is a small strip of green and gold with a lush center of trees and barren beaches surrounding it.
One of the most sensational things about the coast of Uruguay is visible as the sun comes down on a day at the beach. You won’t be able to look away from the horizon as the sun sets in Uruguay and pink, red and orange colours light up the sky, creating a stunning spectacle night after night.
One of the places where you can catch one of these stunning sunsets is from the sleepy surf town of La Paloma. Located less than two hours from Punta del Este, this little town has a few different coves and beaches to choose from, including sand dunes near the protected Rocha Lagoon, so whether or not it’s high season, you’ll always be able to find some sand to call your own.
Just up the coast from La Paloma is the growing but still very small beach town of La Pedrera. With a single road running through town, a few cafés and restaurants open for breakfast at 10 am and bars that close at 7 am, it’s a place where it’s impossible not to have fun and impossible to be stressed.
As you turn the corner from Montevideo, pass Punta del Este and leave La Paloma in your rear view, the country of Uruguay seems to go back in time. Cabo Polonio is a rustic little town without any paved streets—only unadulterated beauty and the beach.
If Cabo Polonio is a little too rustic for you, the neighbouring town of Punta del Diablo might be the perfect alternative. You can rent one of the unique, quaint little cabins just a stone’s throw from the beach and the town’s vibe is so upbeat and welcoming that you’ll feel instantly right at home.
Whether you’re visiting Uruguay with your family or vacationing with a group, Uruguay will have just the place (or a few places) that hit all the criteria of what you’re looking for: safe beaches for kids, secure towns to enjoy the nightlife for the teens, good restaurants for the adults and great accommodations where everyone can sleep.
A growing, upper class area of Uruguay, the oceanside city of Piriápolis has beaches with fine sand that run along the town’s main avenue and terrific bars and restaurants with patios—this getaway is well known in Uruguay, so visit it before it gets too popular with other tourists.
If your kids are tugging at your shirt because they want to catch some waves, they’ll be spoiled with choices as the olas (waves) in Uruguay are terrific. La Paloma and La Barra (just outside of Punta del Este) are well known for having some terrific beaches and point breaks.
You can’t tick things off your bucket list more than once so every time you return to your favourite beach in Aruba, you’re repeating the same experience over and over again. Uruguay’s growing popularity is putting it on everyone’s bucket list, and once you’ve visited and ticked it off yours, it’ll keep calling you back for a new experience every time you return.