Often called the “St. Tropez of South America,” Punta del Este is famous for its pristine beaches, sparkling marina and busy nightlife. Originally founded as a fishing port, today the town is extremely popular with Argentine and Brazilian vacationers.
Punta del Este sits on a peninsula that marks the boundary between the Rio de la Plata (River Plate) and the Atlantic Ocean. Browse the handicraft market on Avenida Gorlero or shop for upscale brands in the outlets on Calle 20. Climb the town lighthouse for panoramic views of the peninsula and coastline.
Miles of pristine beaches spread east and west from the peninsula. Backed by sand dunes, Playa Brava runs along the Atlantic coast and has good surf spots. While at this beach, admire La Mano, a monument of a giant hand emerging from the sand.
Go to Playa Mansa to enjoy the calm water of the Rio de la Plata. Try watersports, such as windsurfing and waterskiing, or dine at one of the beach clubs. Kids will enjoy playing on the waterslides at Splash Aqua Park.
Stroll along the waterfront promenade to the port. Admire the luxury yachts bobbing in the marina then watch fisherman selling the catch of the day. From the port, take a boat trip to Isla Gorriti, where you can relax on uncrowded beaches. Or cruise around Isla de Lobos, home to a large colony of sea lions.
Back at the port, watch the sunset from an outdoor terrace then join partygoers at one of the bars, which entertain until the early hours.Rent a car and explore areas outside of the town. Visit Casapueblo, a spectacular hotel and museum designed by Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaro. Get in touch with nature at Arboretum Lussich. Drive east to experience the trendy beaches and stylish nightclubs of La Barra then spot celebrities at exclusive Jose Ignacio.
High season in Punta del Este runs from Christmas through January, when prices are notably higher and accommodations are booked months in advance. Consider visiting from July through October, when migrating southern right whales swim close to the coast’s shore.