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The Best Surf Beaches in Punta del Este

Picture of Milena Fajardo
Updated: 21 September 2017
Summer is the best time to visit Uruguay. The weather is amazing, there’s plenty of things to do, and everyone is making the most of the outdoors. Summer is also prime time for practicing water sports, which are really popular in this country. If you’re into surfing, or want to try it out for the first time, visit Punta del Este, one of Uruguay’s most famous coastal cities. Bear in mind that it’s incredibly busy from December 20 to January 10, and then it progressively quietens down, so choose your dates depending on the experience you’re after.
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El Emir

This beach is right next to Punta del Este city centre, and is easily accessible via the coastline promenade, which reduced the dimensions of the beach when it was constructed. There isn’t a lot of sand, and the water is deep; despite this, it is still the busiest beach in the city, so be careful to watch out for swimmers. The beach is in a cove with rocks at each end, and there are the remnants of a shipwreck right in the middle. It can bring potent waves, left and right, up to seven feet (two meters) tall.

The optimum wind blows from the south, southwest, west, and west-northwest. The optimum swell direction is east and east-southeast. The beach has a sandy bottom except for the rocks on the right side, called La Virgen, where the bottom is rocky and the currents very strong, making it ideal only for experts.

Playa El Emir, 26 – Resalsero, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

Surfers at El Emir beach, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

El Emir beach, Punta del Este | © Jimmy Baikovicius/Flickr

La Olla

School
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La Olla

This is a very good beach to learn how to surf on, and there is a surf school right on the sand that provides lessons, wetsuits, and board rentals in the summer. For more advanced surfers, there is a long left-hand wave that starts on a rocky bottom that then turns to sand. Waves can grow up to seven feet (two meters) tall, but the current can become intolerable as the waves get larger. If you can keep up with the strong current, you’ll be rewarded with very long, nicely shaped waves.

In optimal conditions, the wind would have to blow from the west, west-northwest, and north-east. The swell would go east and east-southeast. To ride the longer waves, you have to position yourself almost on the rocks, which makes for a difficult drop. This is also a popular beach, so look out for other people swimming and for other surfers, especially those who are just learning.

Escuela de Surf La Olla, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

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La Plage

La Plage is part of Brava Beach and a crowded beach all year round. It has a sandy bottom throughout. There’s a beach break that generates very good fast right- and left-hand waves, sometimes tubular shaped. Of medium to advanced difficulty, the waves can reach up to seven feet (two meters) high.

Optimal conditions are with wind blowing from the north, west-northwest, and east-northeast, and swell going east, east-southeast, and southeast. There are some strong currents and potholes that you need to watch out for.

Ocean Club, Rbla. Lorenzo Batlle Pacheco, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

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La Boca

This beach is located further east of Punta del Este, which usually means it’s less crowded. The waters are a mix of the Maldonado stream, the Río de la Plata River, and the Atlantic Ocean. There are good left- and right-hand waves that form waves up to seven feet (two meters) high. The bottom is sandy and waves form on a beach break, but take care because there are some rocks as well. Unfortunately, this spot is quiet most of the time, because it’s hard to get the optimum conditions of wind and swell.

Watch out for winds blowing from the north, northwest, and northeast, and swell going south, east-southeast, and east.

La Gorgorita Barra De Maldonado, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

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Posta del Cangrejo

This beach is located a few feet away from La Barra, a popular spot with restaurants and shops. It’s an ideal beach to start learning to surf, and there’s a surf school on the sand providing lessons, wetsuits, and board rentals during the summer. The sand is very fine and usually moist, which helps to keep the temperature down. There are left- and right-hand waves, seven feet (two meters) high and more. During the summer, the beach is so crowded that it can be impossible to surf; always make sure that you watch out for other surfers and for people swimming.

Optimum conditions are generated with wind blowing from the north, east-northeast, and east (if it’s soft), and swell going south, southeast, and east-southeast. The classic wave at this spot is left-hand, which on a southeast, south-southeast swell generates long, nicely shaped waves. It starts breaking on a rocky bottom, and then continues for about 490 feet (150 meters) on a sandy bottom. The right-hand wave is not as long, but is still very fun.

Posta Del Cangrejo Beach Uruguay, La Barra, Maldonado, Uruguay

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Montoya

Montoya beach is very popular during high season; there are usually parties going on and a lot of people sunbathing and swimming in the ocean. Off season, it is many surfers’ beach of choice, because it is far away from the city and presents very good left- and right-hand waves all year round. The waves can be up to seven feet (two meters) high and there is a sandy bottom.

Optimal conditions are with winds blowing from the north, northeast, and northwest, and swell directed south, and southeast. Take care of the crowds of people swimming in high season, and watch out for beginner surfers.

Playa Montoya, La Barra, Maldonado, Uruguay

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Bikini

This is a deep-water beach, also very popular in high season, and many surfers’ favourite. Surfers don’t have to worry about people swimming, even in high season, because the classic surfing spot is far away from where people usually swim. The classic wave is left-handed, right on the rocks. There’s a right-hand wave in the middle of the beach, where people swim, towards the peninsula. It is close to shore, tubular and fast, but almost impossible to ride in the summer because of the number of people swimming. Waves go up to seven feet (two meters) high.

Look out for winds going from the south, southwest, west and west-northwest, and swell going southeast, and east-southeast, for optimal conditions. The rocky bottom of the left-hand wave breaks a lot of boards on the drop, because it’s tubular and fast, but after a few feet, the wave goes milder and long. The spot is quite crowded with surfers in the summer, and rocks can be dangerous, so it’s best for those at a medium to advanced level.

Playa Bikini, Manantiales, Maldonado, Uruguay

Parts of this information were translated with permission from Guia de Surfing. Check it out to find out more information about surfing on each of these beaches and others along the long Uruguayan coast.