Punta del Este - The Surfers Paradise of Uruguay
Punta Del Este, Uruguay
The good old Lonely Planet had described Punta del Diablo as the anti Punta del Este. Punta del Este is described: 'OK, here's the plan: tan it, wax it, buff it at the gym, then plonk it on the beach at 'Punta.' Once you're done there, go out and shake it at one of the town's famous clubs.' So having spent time in one, we decided we should spend some time in the other.
Given the only buses that went direct from Punta del Diablo to Punta del Este were at some ridiculous time in the morning or the evening, we decided to catch a bus to San Pedro, then grab a local bus for the last half hour to Punta del Este. We were heading the same direction as a fellow traveller from Australia. We were able to help him navigate to the local bus, and he was able to inform us where to get off, as he had been there before.
We arrived close to sunset, and took a walk to the closest beach, Playa Brava. We just caught a pink moon rising. Fergus made a dash for "The Hand", a sculpture of some fingers in the sand, to see if he could get a photo with the moon in the background but unfortunately the moon disappeared behind some clouds. We got some twilight pics of "the Hand" nevertheless.
We then wandered along a main street to check out some tourist paraphernalia shops which weren't very exciting, then grabbed some groceries to make dinner at the hostel.
The next day was a bit overcast and cold, but not rainy so we were able to wander around. We ventured along the waterfront on the eastern side of the point, then out to the point with a detour via Faro de Punta del Este (the Punta del Este lighthouse) which wasn't particularly exciting, as it's not open to the public.
Further around the point at the port, we ventured out along the jetty. Here we came across fishermen that had recently returned to port, and were skilfully cleaning, gutting and cutting what they had caught on tables spread across the jetty. The scraps were thrown into the water for a bunch of hungry sea lions. We watched as the mammoth beasts popped their heads up and sprayed water as they exhaled, before taking a mouthful of fish offcuts. While this was not the most natural of feeding habits for the sea lions, we were glad we got to see them without paying over $50 each to spend 2 hours bobbing around on a boat on a cold day to see them at the nearby Isla de Lobos.
Further along we walked past a series of stalls where each fishing boat sold their daily catch of fish, squid, prawns etc. Unfortunately we weren't going back to the hostel so decided not to purchase any for dinner.
We walked along the waters edge a little further on the western side of the point, then crossed back through town for some empanadas for lunch which we ate on the beach, then went to check out a park marked on our map. We walked past some construction and a big sign with Donald Trump's white toothed grin advertising the enormous apartment block he is building, among some other new buildings under construction as well. We then realised the nice looking green space on our map was in fact no longer an open green space, but had been taken over by Donald!
It started to sprinkle a little, but fortunately we now weren't far from the shopping centre, so we ducked in and looked around a while to fill in the rest of the afternoon. We had run out of attractions to see on our tourist map so that was fine with us. It turned out Punta del Este, aside from a hand in the sand and a port, really didn't offer much outside of the summer season.
The next morning, after taking a few more pics of "The Hand" now that there was a little blue sky, we enjoyed another lunch of empanadas including an incredible chocolate and walnut one, then boarded a bus for Montevideo hoping for a few more attractions.
If you want our opinion, forget Punta del Este and head straight for Punta del Diablo.