Punta del Este is a glamorous upscale beach resort jutting out on a small peninsula at the southern tip of Uruguay.
A stroll along the oceanfront promenade, Rambla Williman, reveals many unspoilt beaches scaling two opposing coastlines. Playa Mansa traces the calmer waterfront of Rio de la Plata while the sand dunes of Playa Brava are lashed by Atlantic Ocean waves, favoured mostly by surfers. An enormous hand sculpture, ‘Monumento al Ahogado’, partially submerged in the sand at Playa de los Dedos (Finger Beach) is a stark warning to swimmers of the strong currents that yield from there-on eastwards. Most of the elite and well-heeled from South America descend upon the yacht marina at Playa Mansa before heading to the exclusive town of La Barra to lounge on Bikini Beach, closely pursued by a fleet of paparazzi. The small fishing village of Jose Ignacio is a quieter and more scenic alternative, nestled along the Ruta 10 beyond La Barra on Playa Brava.
The small island of Gorriti lies just offshore with deserted beaches and a pine-clad interior beside the remains of an 18th century fortress. A further boat ride away leads to Isla de Lobos, home to a large colony of sea lions that welcome visitors with an enthusiastic barrage of deafening barks. Other nautical activities here include fishing, surfing and sailing or for those preferring land based interests, a number of 18-hole golf courses are dotted in and around Punta del Este.
Snaking dramatically through the peninsula, Gorlero Avenue is lined with numerous galleries, restaurants and designer boutiques to keep even the most earnest shopper entertained. Furthermore, an evening stroll around the Feria Hippie craft market on Plaza Artigas offers a superb myriad of jewellery, crafts and leather goods at which to marvel.