Uruguay beaches have long been a hotspot for South American beachcombers, but it's only recently that they have gained the equivalent international reputation. Over the past decade, visitors from all over the world have started to head to Piriapolis, Punta del Diablo, and Punta del Este beaches, making Uruguay something of an in destination for savvy travelers. But it all makes sense: Not only are Uruguay beaches plentiful and superb, they’re also backed up by a great climate and extremely strong infrastructure, as Uruguay has one of the highest quality of living indexes of anywhere in South America. It’s really no exaggeration to say Uruguay beach vacations could be the next big thing on the travel circuit.
The first sight of sandy shoreline most visitors get is of the beach in Montevideo. Uruguay is a small country, and only Montevideo, its capital, receives international flights. Consequently, the vast majority of vacationers who head to the country from abroad enter via Montevideo. The city is compact and stylish, and its beach is as good as urban beaches come.
The Uruguay beaches in Montevideo spread out along the city’s sea border. Ramirez Beach, close to Montevideo’s old town to the east, is a favorite among walkers; it’s fairly calm and peaceful—a good place to read a book and take a nap. Further along, the beach at Pocitos is all about fun, and it boasts a suitably lively atmosphere. Backed by high-rise apartment blocks that hold restaurants and bars as well as homes, Pocitos plays host to a horde of young and beautiful people every day, who hit the sand in order to play volleyball, drink mate tea, and generally relax under the sun. A more picturesque beach in Montevideo is Buceo, which surrounds a small port. The sand here isn’t quite as refined as on Pocitos, but if marine landscapes are your cup of tea, Buceo is a beach in Montevideo not to be missed.
Three excellent beach resorts are a coach ride away from Montevideo. The most visited is Punta del Este, which is often touted as the St Tropez or Monaco of South America. This chic, high-rise beach resort is a favorite hangout of South America’s rich and famous, featuring many top-notch luxury hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs. This resort area is built on a spit of land that juts out into the sea, so Punta del Este beaches are either located on the east or the west coast of the town. The Playa Braca and the Playa Mansa, for example, are two beaches located opposite each other. The Braca, which faces into the Atlantic, is windier and choppier than the Mansa, which is fairly calm.
Punta del Este beaches include a beach that is often ranked as the very best beach in Uruguay: the Bikini beach on La Barra. This is definitely the place to go if you want to catch a glance of South America’s famous elite soaking up the sun. Models, film stars, and consequently paparazzi, are never far away.
If Punta del Este sounds a bit much for you, the smaller resort town of Piriapolis, only a couple of hours drive away, is a smaller, more tranquil place that nonetheless features some great Uruguay beaches. Punta del Diablo is also worth checking out, particularly if you're seeking peace and quiet, as this calm fishing village is nowhere near as crowded as its counterparts.