Punta del Este, Uruguay, has two long beaches – the Brava and the Mansa – lined with high rises. It’s the centre of glamour magazines and cheesy TV shows during the summer and heaving with tourists in January and February.
Argentinians and Brazilians go crazy for “Punta”.
Personally I avoid Punta at all costs during the summer time but I confess to enjoying its charm off-season.
Off-season Punta del Este has a very special charm
Have a wander around that old part of peninsula above the port – it’s a very different Punta from the highrise lined rest of the coast. By “old” I mean solid inter-war buildings, nothing colonial.
There the buildings are mainly houses and some low-rise apartment blocks. The port is also charming with a yacht club and several restaurants.
Walk to the port and walk along the piers to see the local fish sellers working and huge seals basking next to the yachts.
Punta del Este is a great vantage point for whale-watching. You can take a boat out to view Isla Gorriti, packed with seals.
Take a day trip to Punta del Este from Montevideo
Buses go from Tres Cruces every half an hour. Catch the ones that take 2 hours. You might want to check out my guide to reading bus timetables in Uruguay. If you have a car drive around including on to chic Jose Ignacio or stay closer just going to La Barra which has a really fun bridge to drive across.
Let me explain my aversion to Punta
I lived in Argentina several decades ago and was completely turned off by the endless summer TV coverage of the beach scene in “Punta”.
I heard the word “cola-less” for the first time. A term for a tiny buttock-bearing g-string, seemingly obligatory beach wear for any female Argentine celeb or wannabe.
Cola means “bum” to us British. In a cola-less the bum is actually what is MOST on display.
The TV coverage gave me the impression that Punta del Este was part of Argentina. I thought it was — until I had a look at a map.
Nothing has changed. I just looked at a website catering for “Personalized and luxury travel in Argentina at its very finest” and Punta del Este is there – and not a single mention of it being in Uruguay!
We can safely conclude that in summer, Punta is no longer part of Uruguay. I suspect most Uruguayans would agree.