I know; it sounds like a peculiar mental association. Still, Punta del Este is where I spent most of my Christmas holidays until the beginning of my university exam session in January became a priority.
In Punta del Este, there is my grandmother’s beach house, and in winter, I used to fly there with my mother to visit her and my aunt. A Christmas without decorations, but with lots of cakes and laughter.
The name of Punta del Este describes its geographical location: a peninsula that points towards the east on the coast of Uruguay. On one side, you dive into the icy Atlantic Ocean and on the other in the more quiet and warmer estuary of the Rio de la Plata.
Punta del Este was a military avant-ranking during the war with Brazil, but already in the late nineteenth century, with the construction of the first hotel, it became a place of rest and marine treatments.
In the early twentieth century, the city had not even five hundred inhabitants, but many were dreaming of making it a resort-like Biarritz or Brighton. In 1907, the company Balneario Punta del Este invited the first Argentines and Uruguayans vacationers, who arrived onboard the legendary boat Golondrina. The rise of the city was swift, and in 1924 was founded the Yacht Club.
Today Punta del Este is one of the most important and exclusive seaside resorts in South America. To give you an idea: it has about one thousand hotels, five casinos, thousands of villas and estate agents … and it’s quite a small town.
Tourists come mainly from neighboring Argentina, and my family is no exception. Still, there are also many Brazilians and distinguished Europeans … even if with the Argentine crisis of 2002, flows are a bit decreased.
What to do in Punta del Este
In Punta del Este, you go for the sea, for its beautiful beaches with a bid of almost unlimited activities, and its nightlife. Many people pick it for its casinos, but I never entered one.
My days there are almost all the same … as an older woman, I established my own routine, and even when I am tempted to change it, I end up not changing a single detail …
The day begins at the end of the morning, but not just for me! The van that carries milk, juice, bread, and sweet for breakfast pass in all districts not before 10:30 so it would be pointless to take action earlier than that … right before its stop by my place I usually plan to take only juice and a baguette, but then there are all those cakes and bread stuffed with dulce de leche … things that I can’t find once back home…
After devouring my very light breakfast, I take the pink bicycle I got in third grade, and I challenge the wind riding up to “my” beach, where I usually do nothing but read a book or look around. My beach is the Playa Mansa (calm beach), a bit because I wouldn’t say I like cool water and a bit because I’m lazy and swimming in the stream is not for me 😛 From Mansa then you see the beautiful Isla Gorriti …
For athletic people, I recommend the Playa Brava (wild beach), offering perfect waves for surfing and kite, beautiful boys and girls attracted by surfers, beautiful views of the Isla de Lobos, and “the hand” … the famous sculpture coming out of the sand.
Spent two or three hours of leisure (I recommend in the shade !!!), I ride my bike for a tour of Punta del Este, and I usually extend it well into the night, in between shopping, dinner, friends, pub …
My favorite little corners or sights
- strolling around between the spectacular city villas … all different (there are no architectural constraints here), all lit up and with windows wide open and with beautiful gardens and swimming pools … in short, I like to fantasize
- Avenida Gorlero, to be walked all along, admiring windows, bars ad restaurants and those walking all along like I do 😉
- the evening market in Plaza Artigas, where you can find all kinds of craft items
- the “Casa Pueblo”, at Punta Ballena, a mega building, designed by Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, to me a symbol of Punta del Este
- Gorriti, an island accessible by ferry, formerly Isle of Palms and then Maldonado. The current name comes from Captain Francisco Gorriti, who was imprisoned on the island … Its coast offers beautiful beaches: Puerto Jardín and Playa Honda.
- Isla de Lobos, the mythical island home of sea lions, the undisputed star for passing tourists (I warn you that this island does not exactly smell like a flower bouquet…)
- the Barra de Maldonado, a beautiful fishermen village, now became a chic suburb, built by the inhabitants of San Carlos, who chose it as an ideal summer residence. The barra is also famous for the wavy bridge linking the two extremes of the creek Maldonado.
Tips to enjoy Punta del Este
I eat here (as well as at home, of course):
- El Almacen, a mini restaurant where you feel at home with friends or family. The menu is limited but changes every day, and on Thursday is fixed. Cecilia is a fantastic owner
- Lo de Charlie, excellent and plentiful meat and seafood dishes. A delight for the palate
- Incanto, the only Italian restaurant I’ve ever set foot abroad, but it deserves it, both for the food and for the place, in my opinion, beautiful
I get there as follow:
- usually, I land in Buenos Aires because I can not live without seeing it as often as possible, but that’s another story … From Buenos Aires, I like to take the hydrofoil of Buquebus, which takes about one hour to get to Colonia, and from there, I continue with the bus that takes about five hours to the destination. All this for more or less $ 80
- the cheapest option (30$) from Buenos Aires t is the lance from Tigre to Carmelo, and then a bus to Punta
- wanting to avoid boats, a bus from Buenos Aires to Punta via Montevideo takes about ten hours, with very changing rates … (it leaves at 11.00 pm)
- for those wishing to land in Montevideo to visit it, there are buses approximately every half hour both from the airport and from the bus station of Tres Cruces. It takes two hours and until last year the ticket cost $ 7
- another option is to fly directly to Punta del Este, but from Europe, you have to make a stopover in a South American capital, accordingly to the chosen company
There are people of all ages strolling around at any time (except in the morning!), and there are no crimes.
It does not have the reputation of certain Brazilian beaches, but here you do not feel threatened at every step, and prostitution does not have the same style …
If you happen to arrange a trip to South America, think of Punta for a relaxing week.
You won’t regret it!