America,  TDM,  Travel Journal,  Uruguay

Punta del Este (Uruguay): dream beaches

If you’re the type of person who loves beaches as far as the eye can see, Punta del Este is the place for you

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

How to get there

We take an Uber to go to the Tres Cruces terminal in Montevideo. The ride costs 130$UR, twice as much as if we had taken the public bus CA1 (30$UR per person). The COT company is one of the two companies providing the Montevideo – Punta del Este trip (I will put the schedule at the bottom of the article). The buses are very comfortable even if they are much too air-conditioned

Where to stay?

As you can see on the map, Punta del Este is this little piece of land that gives you access to two superb beaches with different styles: on the right is the Playa Brava of the Atlantic Ocean, with lots of waves… and on the left is the Playa Las Delicias, much quieter. Walking 3-4 streets, you can choose the best beach of the moment T for your tanning, or the best waves to surf… or not

When we know that even Brazilians come here to enjoy the beach, we understand that Punta del Este is a must-see destination when we set foot in Uruguay

Unfortunately, this also increases the prices in summer: it isn’t possible to find pizzas for less than 300$UR (10€) or dormitories for less than 15€ per bed. Even the prices displayed at the supermarket are high..

However, we manage to find the best located hostel in Punta del Este, a few blocks from the bus terminal and 2-3 blocks from each beach(Tas D Viaje Hostel Surf Camp). The hostel has a small terrace overlooking the street and a large garden with hammocks. Almost all rooms are air conditioned and everything is super clean. I highly recommend it! Beware, you will surely find cheaper hostels in Maldonado (the town next door), but it’s a bit far from Punta del Este. Choosing an accommodation in Punta del Este allows you to choose the type of beaches you like, it’s more fun.


As soon as we leave the bus terminal of Punta del Este, we see the sculpture La Mano o Los Dedos by the Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal. I think it has been repainted because it doesn’t look too much like the photos I saw on the Internet

This sculpture is in front of Playa Brava, the one with many waves. There is a surf school right on the beach, for those who want to learn a new sport

There, we see only two small beaches but if we continue straight on, we discover another beach several km long. Surprise: the water is a bit cold, but once we manage to enter the water, everything is fine (the sun helps a lot). We can rent a parasol (200$UR) and folding chairs (100$UR each) for the whole day. It is so expensive that most people come with their own equipment. However, sunbathing in the sand on your towel does not seem to be the trend here. Everybody is already super tanned, I think they aren’t looking to be even more so 🙂

On the other hand, on the other side, the water is much calmer with a beach several km long

The port is reminiscent of Saint Tropez 🙂 with guest stars who are sea lions in the water or sunbathing. You can get close to them, even to hear them grumbling 😀

The wind is blowing all the time, but it isn’t like the Mistral either, nor like the wind in Patagonia, it is a pleasant wind, which isn’t meant to raise dust to put in our eyes

The receptionist advises us to go and watch the sunset in Punta Ballena. You can take any bus from the bus terminal (direction Montevideo) and ask to get off at Punta Ballena (about 75$UR/person). There is a balcony for this

The sunset is indeed very impressive. I think it’s the most beautiful sunset since we left on our round-the-world trip

And for the return trip, you just have to hail the first bus, there are many public buses passing in front of it and that will take you back to Punta del Este (75$UR/person)

There are 2 islands nearby. The first one has dream beaches. The second has a large colony of sea lions. You can’t stop on this island but you can dive, snorkel and swim with sea lions, starting from 60 US dollars

We stayed in Punta del Este for 3 nights, which is enough to hurt our wallet terribly 😀

Besides, we haven’t been in dormitories for a long time. We are rediscovering the joy of living together, especially with an Austrian woman who turns on the light at 2:00 a.m. and who speaks loudly and laughs loudly, and who openly asks us “what rule are we talking about” when we ask her to lower her voice and respect the basic rules of politeness. She and her buddies only calm down when I switch to Spanish to make them understand that I am not an “American because I speak English”. Suddenly, they understand the difference between “whispering” and “speaking. I’ve never seen anyone so offended by a ground rule at 2:00 a.m. before. The next day, the receptionist accepts our request to change rooms. This kind of situation must happen from time to time because she immediately understood the why of the how

Part 2: Practical Tips

Bus: departure and return schedules from Montevideo and fares (click on the image to zoom)


  • Bus Montevideo -> Punta del Este : 272$UR/person
  • Bus Punta del Este -> Punta Ballena: 75$UR/person
  • Accommodation: Tas D Viaje Hostel Surf Camp, 18 USD/bed in dormitory, to be paid in cash (otherwise +10% with card payment)
  • Food

    • from 440$UR/meal for two (menu of the day, fast food style, cash payment) to 1200$UR (two good pizzas, or grilled meat or sushi, payment by card possible to recover the 22% VAT)
    • Cocktails: 250$UR
    • Avoid mini markets, prefer real supermarkets like El Dorado

Here, there are many “duty free” stores that refund you directly the VAT (this info will of course be communicated with a huge sticker on the windows)
As everywhere in Uruguay, payment by foreign credit/debit card will allow you to automatically recover 22% VAT in restaurants.

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