Punta del Este beaches are among the most popular in Uruguay. The resort city of Punta del Este is about 90 miles to the east of Montevideo, capital city of the country. In addition to numerous visitors from abroad, locals from Montevideo flock to these beaches, and this is where the residents of Buenos Aires come because there are no good beaches in that city. It is full of casinos and boasts marinas full of yachts, a wide variety of resort hotels and accommodations of all kinds and, of course, the lovely Uruguay beaches.
What is unique about the beaches on either side of the city is that there are two distinct coastlines, Brava and Mansa. Mansa faces the shores of the Rio de la Plata River as it spills into the Atlantic Ocean (Buenos Aires is just on the other side of the river from these beaches). This means the waters here are calmer. The other faces the Atlantic Ocean, and some of the Punta del Este beaches on this part of the coast have extreme waves, making it a surfing hotspot.
Brava Beach (Playa Brava) is one of the most famous of the Punta del Este beaches as well as one of the most glamorous. It is known for the sculpture of a large hand called “El Mano” with only the oversized fingers coming out of the sand. It has thick sand and there are great waves here, making it very popular for surfing. Next to the port is the Beach of the Englishman, a small but pleasant beach with soft sand and some rocks. This area is dangerous for swimming, so be aware. Head to Chilean Beach for great views of the city and Gorriti Island, which lies just offshore. You can take boat cruises to the island, which has sparkling white sand beaches and is an excellent spot for shore fishing. Chilean Beach is also a great whale watching spot during the season (July to October) and its lagoon is perfect for windsurfing.
Probably the most popular of the Punta del Este beaches is Las Grutas Beach. Grutas is Spanish for “caves,” and there are a number of water caves at this hidden beach. It has just about everything for a beach – wonderful sand, caves to explore, good surf, great views, fabulous sunsets, and it is rarely crowded.
Mansa Beach is one of the largest along the coastline facing the Rio de la Plata. It is actually a big crescent bay with calm waters, making it popular for families with children. This is also a good fishing beach. Solanas Beach is also a popular family beach. Its hard wet sand is excellent for sand castles, volleyball, and other activities and the waters are very calm.
In addition to Brava, other good Punta del Este beaches for surfing are El Emir, recommended only for experts; Manantiales, the jet set hang out; and Montoya, a surf championship beach. It is possible to find good surfing conditions on just about all the beaches facing the Atlantic.