Discovering Uruguay was like discovering a beautiful little secret. A small country sitting between Brazil and Argentina on the Eastern coast of South America, Uruguay boasts beautiful beaches stretching 410 miles of coastline, temperate weather, and an abundance of wine. Punta Del Este is the spring break destination for the Argentinian people with its casual, laid-back atmosphere. Offering beach resorts, shopping, and plenty of restaurants, it is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of South American big cities.
Discovering Uruguay Must Do’s
Experience Uruguayan Wines
The sunset gourmet experience with Ryan Hamilton was a highlight of our stay in Uruguay. Our private tour took us to sample wines at a beautiful vineyard in the countryside. We had delicious local cheeses with our tasting and Ryan, our photographer as well as guide, took nice photos of us around the property. After the winery, we proceeded to an amazing resort in the coastal city of Jose Ignacio. We experienced the most beautiful pink and blue sunset while dining and drinking more wine with a gourmet dinner at Playa Vik resort. The setting was super romantic. We felt very spoiled.
Ride Bicycles up the coast
There are several bike rentals in the city offering both regular and electric bicycles. We rode from Punta del Este up to La Barra stopping along the way for pictures and ice cream. You can visit los dedos, Spanish for the fingers, at Playa Brava. Stop and marvel at the wavy bridge of Puente de La Barra. There are many inspiring art galleries along the way and beaches like Playa Montoya where you can relax before the return trip.
Swim with Sea Lions at Isla de Lobos
5 miles off of the coast of Punta del Este sits a small island which is home to approximately 15,000 sea lions and 250,000 fur seals. A small number of tour operators offer boat trips to visit the island out of the city’s main port. While the boats don’t actually dock for you to explore the protected island, they do get you close enough to see the beautiful lighthouse and take a swim with the barking marine mammals. Caution: Be prepared to smell like a sea lion after getting that close to the action. Pee-eww!
Tip: Most of the boat companies spoke little English, so we didn’t really know what we were in for. The boat ride is long and you are only at the island for about 30 minutes. There wasn’t any commentary in English, but that doesn’t prevent you from enjoying the scenery or the view of the city in the distance. Take some Dramamine if you’re prone to sea-sickness.
Discovering Uruguay Where to Stay
Conrad Punta Del Este
The Conrad Punta del Este is a beautiful resort with plenty of dining and entertainment options as well as a casino and beach on property. While the rooms aren’t modern or new, they meet all of your basic needs and provide beautiful sunset views over the Rio de La Plata. The best part? The chocolate covered dulce de leche treats they set on your pillow had me jumping around singing Turn Down for What every night in anticipation.
If money grew on trees, I would stay at Playa Vik forever. The hotel is beautiful, service is top notch, and the views are amazing. We did not spend the night at the hotel, but we took a tour before our gourmet dinner at the restaurant and were more than impressed. This place is special.
Discovering Uruguay Tips:
- Wear plenty of bug repellent all day. I got attacked in the day and at dusk alike.
- Dulce De Leche is the crème de la crème in Uruguay. The caramelly spread is the most popular sweet in the country. It is most commonly eaten on bread, but can also be put on waffles, pancakes, bananas, or in cakes and pastries.
- While there is a fair amount of English on signs and menus, the country doesn’t have a large number of American visitors. Studying up on your Spanish skills may make things easier at restaurants, on tours, etc.
- October-March is the best time of year to visit for sun and warm temperatures.
We discovered Uruguay by accident, trying to use up some extra Hilton points in South America. Lucky us, it was more than we expected. For a travaholic, the only thing better than spring break in the USA is spring break abroad, and we have found just the place!