A couple hours’ drive east of Montevideo on the Atlantic Coast lies the vibrant resort town of Punta del Este, the premier destination among the elite. Often referred to as the “Jet-set Resort of South America,” Punta del Este attracts visitors to its captivating setting of beautiful beaches, expensive hotels, glitzy dining options and casinos and yacht clubs, finding summer its busiest months for those who wish to see and be seen, or simply soak in the radiant cosmopolitan energy.
Punta del Este has an active and high-styled social life, with a vast cultural and artistic program, the city renowned for its fashion, sophistication and incomparable nightlife. Its suburbs are referred to as “the Beverly Hills of Punta del Este,” with mansions to rival any in the world and million-dollar villas common, many only frequented by the owners for a short time.
While very few hotels are actually on the beach in Punta del Este, many provide easy access to the different variety of beaches Punta del Este has to offer. Eastside you’ll find some beautiful but relatively quiet beaches, while the west is the place to party and where the jet-set come to play with beaches like Bikini and La Barra. Playa Brava offers a favorite photo opportunity with its “Mano de Punta del Este,”—5 concrete fingers, the middle about 10 feet high, emerging from the sand. Surfing, windsurfing, and snorkeling are among the many water activities enjoyed.
Aside from beaches, there are also parks, a large zoo, and interactive exhibits. Drive through the residential areas or stroll the town center, sprinkled with leather boutiques and shops where you can find everything from crafts markets to international brands like Fendi and Luis Vuitton. Visit Casapueblo, the famous, Gaudi-esque house-hotel museum of renowned Uruguayan abstract artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, which stands out from the sea with its irregular architecture. In addition, an excursion out to Gorriti Island has more lovely beaches to offer as well as old fortifications, Isla de Lobos boasting a huge sea lion colony in residence year-round.