Category Archives: Uruguay

Uruguayian beaches

Ahh, Punta del Diablo. Everything that La Paloma wasn’t. Sandy roads, a handful of small cafes and restaurants, beautiful beaches with waves for surfing, occupied hostels. I read somewhere that this town is akin to a Thailand beach town from a 1970s Lonely Planet. I wouldn’t know, but it was a great place to relax for a couple of days. Shortly after I arrived, a foursome arrived at the hostel and I started chatting with them and asked the typical traveler questions – “where are you from?” Much to my pleasant surprise, they were from Denver!

The next few days were pleasant – spent with various groups of travelers and consisted of laying on the beach, eating seaside empanadas, drinks in the bar at night. I haven’t exercised on this entire trip, so my 2nd day in Punta del Diablo, I tried renting a surf board with a Canadian that I met. All boards were rented (it’s a small town), so in lieu of surfing, she and I and a British guy did some circuit training on the beach. My time here was mostly uneventful, although two Brits nearly drowned my first day. They were messing around in the water and got caught in a riptide, started panicking and from both their versions of the story, they thought they were nearly on their last breath. Fortunately for them, a surfer swam over to them and was able to rescue them. Then, my last night, one of the servers tripped just outside a glass door and crashed through the glass door and cut herself up.

That night, the Denverites initiated a beach bonfire. 11 bundles of wood, some really, really awful wine (I don’t recommend the “Tannat” variety of grape…), we had a party. A few Uruguaians joined us with a 4 string guitar and we sang the typical songs everyone in the world seems to know – I’m Yours, Hotel California, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, Wonderwall, etc.

The next day, I headed to a small place called Cabo Polonio, recommended to me initially by a college classmate. The way others described this place made it seem so unique it couldn’t be missed. To get to Cabo Polonio, we took a bus, which dropped us off on the side of the road, where these large 4×4 trucks were waiting. After a 20 minute ride through sand dunes and along the beach, we arrived in Cabo Polonio. It was pretty cold, the sky was gray and the wind was blowing and it reminded me of a sparsely populated area of Maine or Maritime Canada. We arrived (I was with the 4 Denverites) and decided to rent a shack rather than stay in one of the 3 hostels. The entire town is without electricity and the main attraction is candle-lit dinners, decent surfing and Uruguay’s second largest sea lion colony.

We ambled around town – there are no property lines – houses are seemingly randomly built anywhere. We walked along the shore and spent a long time watching the sea lions, which I found to be incredibly entertaining. Just off the coast of this small seaside village is an island, completely full of sea lions and while walking around town, it sounds like there’s a great party going on – just around the corner, but it’s the sea lions barking up a storm on their own exclusive island. It’s almost hard to describe this place, so I hope the pictures do it justice.

The tricky part was finding our cute rustic little cabin at night. We paid attention to the landmarks that we could on our way into town, but in the darkness of night, we got lost. There are no roads, no street lights, no house lights. After stumbling around for a bit, we eventually found our house.

I had arranged for a 6:45am bus from the road outside of Cabo Polonio to eventually get me back to Montevideo so I could catch the ferry back to Buenos Aires. I was told to simply show up in the sandy “plaza” at about 6am and a dune-buggy truck would arrive. Well, that didn’t happen until 7:30 and I was worried that I would miss my bus to Montevideo. However, I got lucky and my connecting bus was late, so I made it to Montevideo without further ado. I did however, get to watch a stunning sunrise, which was well worth it.

Next up is a couple of days in Iguazu Falls on both the Argentinian and Brazilian side!

Punta del Diablo (the dark clouds are from a nearby fire)

Punta del Diablo beach

Cabo Polonio

Sea lions!!

Our rustic little cabin

Gray sky over the beach at Cabo Polonio

Morning sunrise over Cabo Polonio (you can see the lighthouse to the right)


I took an overnight bus from Mendoza to Buenos Aires and immediately headed to the ferry terminal and caught a ferry to Colonia, Uruguay and then a bus to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. I initially planned on heading straight to the beach, but realizing that I had more than enough time here, decided to hunker down for the night in Montevideo. I wandered around the city with two Canadians that I met on the bus from Colonia to Montevideo. We had probably my best meal here yet. One guy got a steak that looked absurdly good and the other and I shared a paella. I’d have preferred steak, but he was jonesin’ for some paella and it was a dish for two. And it was good and I’m always happy to eat fresh seafood.

The day was fairly relaxing, which I needed after 24 hours of bus-ferry-bus travel.

We cooked dinner in the hostel and stayed up to 2am talking, and as I fell asleep around 3am (very early for this part of the world, mind you), the local Argetinians and Brazilians staying in the hostel were still partying quite loudly. I imagine they left around 4am to go to the bars and ambled back around 10am, which was when I woke up for breakfast.

I left for the bus terminal and headed to La Paloma. At the bus terminal, I bought some Pringles for my ride and as I got my change back from my $200 Uruguayian note, I realized that my precious Pringles cost me $7. In a country that not only has soap, toilet paper, and paper towels in every bathroom, but also allows you to flush your toilet paper down the toilet, I suppose I should have expected some dearer prices, but my goodness!

I arrived in La Paloma and was honestly, pretty disappointed. My hostel in Montevideo recommended a cabana by the beach. It sounded perfect and the price was right. As the bus left me in the dust at the side of the road, I wandered across the street to a campground and was shown my “cabana.” Unfortunately undeveloped experiences are somewhat lost on me, since I don’t speak the language and honestly, this campground wasn’t so different from an American one. I walked along the beach and to the center of town hoping to find surfers galore, but the beaches were mostly deserted (but not in the cool, beautiful Indonesian kind of way) and the town, more or less a ghost town. So, I decided I would rest up, leave in the morning and head to a different beach. I took advantage of not being able to communicate with anyone by going to bed early and catching up on some much needed sleep!

La Paloma campground:
La Paloma beach:

RV at the beach: