Uruguay’s most famous beach resort, Punta del Este, is a glamorous city that faces the rolling South Atlantic waves. Backpackers, honeymooners, families and celebrities all come here to relax on golden sands like Brava Beach, do surf-and-yoga and take in contemporary Latin American culture, from the art at the Ralli Museum to nightlife at the fishing port.
The neighborhood of La Barra bursts with life during the summer – especially on the strip of bars and restaurants a few streets back from the beach. Multicolored picnic tables mark out No Me Olvides, a restaurant that’s perennially popular for its buzzing atmosphere, top-notch pizza (try the goat cheese and caramelized onion option) and frozen cocktails, including strawberry daiquiris.
Manantiales has exploded with glamour in recent years, with top-range hotels and moneyed vacationers milling around the beaches. Join the surfers at Bikini Beach, where you can learn how to take on Punta del Este’s famous swells at the surf school – a wooden shack marked with a painted yellow sun. In the deep water out here, you could catch a wave of up to 7ft (2.1m).