A magnet both for tousle-haired, lean-bodied surfers and Cavalli-clad millionaires, Punta del Este is Uruguay’s hedonistic hotspot, famed for its flawless beaches and glittering late-night scene.
This strip of land separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Río de la Plata may be narrow, but it packs a lot in: beaches worthy of a film-set, populated with bodies beautiful; wave-side restaurants serving platters of grilled meat from the parilla, fried calamari and jugs of chilled clericó; and glamorous clubs that don’t get lively until at least 1am. A bendy bridge (surely inspired by the surrounding white-tipped waves) connects Punte del Este with La Barra, a laid-back surfer-magnet with its own cluster of boutiques, bars and, of course, yet more stretches of sand. Once a fishing village, this luxurious resort is the coastal getaway for wealthy South Americans, who flock to its shores between mid December and mid January – turning it into a mini Rio or St Tropez for a few months. If you want the sand and surf to yourself, head here out of season and experience the resort at a more temperate tempo…
Come here in March or April for warm water and less crowds; peak season (mid-December until mid-January) is lively to say the least.