The tiny peninsula of Punta del Este is Uruguay's most spectacular beach resort. It includes the city of Punta del Este, La Barra, Maldonado and Jose Ignacio.
Almost the entire coastal strip from Punta Ballena (Whale Point) towards Jose Ignacio and the border with Brazil is lined with hotels,condominiums, marinas, sports clubs, restaurants and discotheques, conforming what we could call the Uruguayan Riviera.
It's stylish, elegant and glamorous, with a Miami-like skyline. Every summer (December to March) it attracts the rich and famous from Europe and America, as well as wealthy South Americans of all sorts.
But Punta (as it's commonly known) is not only the place for celebrities - even though Robert de Niro, Antonio Banderas, Leonardo di Caprio or top model Naomi Campbell have come here at one point or another, among other stars.
Punta caters equally for a family vacation, music and film lovers, sport fishermen and even gamblers - it has three casinos.
With 20 miles of pristine beaches, Punta offers plenty of entertainment to the outdoor and nature lover...
In addition, during high season, there is an abundance of events: fashion shows, film festival, jazz festival, rodeos, regattas, etc.
You will never get bored in Punta.
The season kicks into high gear by Christmas, when celebrities star arriving for a week of get-together, lavish dinners and night cruises.
It goes from a sleepy coastal town to a blooming summer resort with vibrant nightlife.
Its population grows from several thousand to half million population.
If you favor peace, the best time is March, when you will also find lower prices.
Punta's most famous beaches are...
La Barra definitely is its trendiest neighborhood. Visit Bikini, Manantiales and specially Montoya if you are a surf lover. It's also the nocturnal gathering point par excellence.
Jose Ignacio-18 km away - it was transformed from a fishermen village into a secluded retreat and summer villas favored by Argentinean celebrities for the last two decades.
Other attractions include...
Don't forget to stroll along Gorlero Ave., visit the Yacht Harbor and the crafts market over the week-ends at Plaza Artigas.
Punta del Este is located in the east point - Punta del Este - of bay of Maldonado, 140 km (87 miles) from Montevideo.
At the beginning of 19th century it was only visited by sailors and fishermen.
It was declared a village in 1907, when the first chalets were built and also the first hotel, by Pedro Risso.
With white sand beaches and unspoiled nature, it soon started to attract visitors largely due to the efforts of the city's pioneers such as Francisco Aguilar, Enrique Brunett, Antonio Lassich and others.
The golden era came in the 40s, when the first club and private bungalows were built and Hollywood stars rolled in. In the 50s, even the Rat Pack vacationed here.
Punta del Este was strongly developed by Argentineans in the late 1970s and 1980s, and soon became the favorite vacation spot for politicians, show biz stars and wealthy South Americans.
Coming from abroad, you will arrive through Carrasco International Airport -19 km (12 miles) from Montevideo and then drive for over one hour or take a bus.
You could also fly to Laguna del Sauce Airport, just outside the city - just half an hour from Buenos Aires, if you are in Argentina. Just refer to Uruguay airports for more info on this.