The Top 10 Things to See and Do in La Paloma, Uruguay
Lighthouse | © Marcelo Campi | Flickr
During low season in La Paloma, which in reality encompasses 80% of the calendar year, you can peer down a street lined with quaint surf-style beach homes, and see nothing or no one. Come for the relaxed vibe and feeling of community but while you are here, get your backside out of your lawn chair and do a few of these activities.
La Paloma has a unique feel about it, as you walk from the bus station through the streets to the center, your first impression is relaxed residential, but at the center you see it revolves a lot around the good surf in the area. Whether you are a pro and looking at a big swell coming in, or a beginner wanting to find a crumbling wave to learn the fundamentals, La Paloma will offer you something to enjoy.
Playa La Balconada
You come to La Paloma to chill out and detox by the ocean, so let’s address the top beaches first and foremost. La Balconada is down the main road and when you hit the skate park, you hook a right and you’re heading right for it. The headland at the end of the main rock bends around to encompass a nice open strip of beach that is popular amongst the locals and visitors.
From La Balconada, follow the coast south as the Balconada bay ends, the coast dips back inland to reveal Playa Los Botes, and further on, Playa Anaconda. With very little to separate between the two beaches, except a winding stream that empties into the ocean, possibly where the name Anaconda came from, this is a good place just out of town and a little more sheltered from the wind if the east side is blustery.
Firstly, for beginners in Spanish, chica also refers to something that is small in size, so if you were coming to expect a beach full of women, you will probably be out of luck, however, the Little Bay, sits right in front of Isla Tuna, a small island off the coast and is usually a great quiet place to stick your feet in the sand, and swim in the relatively calm waters.
The protected area of the Rocha Lagoon is outside of La Paloma in the countryside and is almost triple the size of the small town. The green area around it is a protected area, but the lagoon comes right to the ocean with just a strip of sand separating it. So you can enjoy the untouched beach, sand, ocean, and lagoon all from the same location.
You can stay overnight in this little strip of town, but if you don’t have time, take the 10 kilometer trip up the newly paved highway to La Pedrera. The charming beach town is only one paved street that runs from the highway right to the stairs leading down to the beach, but in a place like this, that’s more than enough. Waves smash against the rocky outcrops below, and to the left is a long strip of beach to spend the morning, afternoon, or whole day.
El Faro del Cabo
The big white lighthouse, like many coastal towns in Uruguay sits alone on a well kept piece of land just outside of the town center. You can also pay roughly a dollar to head inside and climb the winding stairs to get a stunning view of the coast and the town, but do note that they close for a few hours in the middle of the day for a break, as the sleepy ways of La Paloma can sometimes be just a bit too much.
Wind can be annoying if you are trying to lay a beach blanket, but is ideal if you’re trying to kitesurf, so make use of the windy ways of La Paloma and try your hand at kitesurfing. Being a difficult sport to manage, you may want a few days of lessons on the beach before you go out to battle it out in the water, but there are not many better places in this part of the continent to have windy conditions, and limited traffic in the water.
If you only have a couple days in La Paloma but want to get out and see as much as you can, visit one of the hostels or agencies that rent bikes, and knock off a few things in a day. Strolling the quiet streets is enjoyable in itself but also swing by the beaches in the area, head up to La Pedrera and pass through the quiet beach communities that lie along the way.
The sunsets, along with the lighthouse, are the most photographed thing in La Paloma and the beauty with the sunset, is that each one is never a replica. Even if you are in town without a view of the horizon, you can often see the pink, red and orange wispy colors light up the sky, and from one of the beaches, or even the lagoon, it’s beautiful to watch a day end in this fashion.