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All about Punta del Este
South America’s most prestigious vacation destination
People love comparing places, coming up with nicknames for them, and sharing vacation stories about cities they love. Here are some of Punta del Este’s aliases. “Monaco of the South,” “The pearl of the Atlantic,” and “The Hamptons of South America.” You know there’s something special about a city when its harbor is lined with megayachts. On each side of the harbor-peninsula, 2 of Uraguay’s best beaches stretch along the outside of Punta del Este’s bustling downtown. East and west of the core, you’ll find small, trendy surf towns with rustic-chic beach villas for rent.
Getting to Punta del Este
Punta del Este’s international airport (PDP) is located 16km outside the city center and connects via Buenos Aires Jorge Newberry Airport. If you’d rather skip the connecting flight, there’s a 3-hour ferry to Montevideo, followed by a 2-hour drive. Once you’re in town, renting a car is the way to go, as taxis are hard to come by in peak season. Touring companies are also a great option for wine, art, and horseback excursions. The official currency in Punta del Este is Pesos, but most stores will take American.
Where to snap iconic vacation photos
You might as well start on the beach and stand between the fingers of “La Mano,” a beautiful sculpture by Mario Irarrazabal on Playa Brava. After, take a stroll along Puerto Punta del Este and check out the yachts in the protected harbor. On the oceanside, you’ll very likely spot sea lions. They aren’t camera shy. If you’d like an even closer look, charter a boat to Isla de Lobos, where you can jump in and swim with the fun-loving creatures. When you’re ready to escape the city for a moment, visit Museo Ralli, a modern art museum focusing on Latin America, Europe, and the surrealist movement.
Punta del Este beach guide
The two sides of the city
Conveniently named, Playa Mansa (Calm Beach) and Playa Brava (Turbulent Beach) are Punta del Este’s finest beachfront areas. Stretching along the coast on each side of the peninsula, you’ll find thick, golden sand on the Mansa-side and fine, white sand on Brava.
Beaches beyond the downtown core
Head east if you’re looking to escape the crowds. Pinares and Las Delicias are two gorgeous beaches that don’t draw as much attention from tourists. In the opposite direction, most beachfront party-goers prefer the western beaches, La Barra and Bikini, where the jet-set come to frolic in waves, windsurf, and sip cocktails at beachfront bars.
Unique finds in the shopping district
The peninsula and city center streets are lined with boutique shops showing off the latest trends in fashion. Garments are shipped from Buenos Aries and Montevideo, making for some interesting, unique, and high-quality fashion souvenirs. On 20th Street, you’ll find a vast selection of international brands. And, there are lots of smaller stores along Brava and Mansa’s beachside avenues.
The world-famous gastronomy of Punta del Este
Dining in Punta del Este is all about local ingredients, fresh seafood, and caipirinha. Start with lunch at La Huella or La Caracola, a pair of casual beachfront restaurants with fantastic sushi and incredible ocean views. For dinner, Marismo and Namm are two of the most popular spots. Both are set outdoors amongst pepper trees on torch-lit patios. For vegetarian options, Restaurant la Olada is the best bet. Then, head for drinks, at Moby Dick, Bigote Bar, or Capi. If you’re feeling lucky, you could always grab a drink at one of the casinos.
Where to stay in Punta del Este
Staying in the city center or along the peninsula is a great idea if you want to stick close to the action. The beaches stretch across both coastal sides of the core, so most of our rentals are very close to the shoreline.
Jose Ignacio Town
The pinnacle of privacy in Punta del Este. Everyone knows about it, but it’s tough to get a spot. Luckily, we have some spots. The beaches in Jose Ignacio are pristine, quiet, and great for swimming and surfing in the morning. Make sure to check out the view from the lighthouse. Some of our larger rentals off the coast are perfect for exclusive events, parties, and destination weddings.
The beaches of La Barra can still get quite busy, as it’s only 12-minutes outside of the city. This trendy town is a hot spot for celebrity sightings, and the main street has a bustling nightlife and eclectic shopping in the afternoons.