Second smallest country in the continent - after Suriname - its 600km (400 miles) shoreline shows two different coasts and beaches.
Some of them on the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver), and others on the Atlantic Ocean, being the second the most attractive ones.
In fact, the Departments of Madonado and Rocha is where to find the most beautiful beaches in Uruguay.
While Maldonado hosts two of the most famous traditional resorts, very well known in the rest of the world - such as Punta del Este and Piriápolis - among others, Rocha is home to a number of lovely summer spots that have become increasingly important to Uruguay tourism over the last few years.
Enough to mention La Paloma, La Pedrera, Punta del Diablo and Cabo Polonio for that matter.
Whichever way you choose to go, one thing is certain, each beach has its own distinct vibe and personality, making it perfect for whatever type of summer retreat you desire.
Uruguay used to be South America's best-kept secret, mainly visited by Porteños (people native from Buenos Aires), Brazilians, Chileans and non-South Americans in the know, attracted by its pristine beaches and/or the international jet-set life found in Punta del Este and Jose Ignacio between January and February for instance.
It is also true that over the last few years, Uruguay has come under global awareness - perhaps more than ever - particularly after The Economist nominated it the country of the year in 2013. Uruguay's current President Jose "Pepe" Mujica has played an important role in this for reasons other than tourism, but not too far either. Tourism is the country's main commodity, even superior than meat exports.
This man (79 years of age) drives himself to work in an old Volkswagen Beetle and flies economy class. He is married to Lucía Topolansky - also an ex-Tupamaro member - and lives with his wife on a chrysanthemum farm outside Montevideo with a three-legged dog named Manuela. He refuses to live in the presidential palace and donates around 90 % of his U$D 12,000 monthly salary to charities.
Yes, we admire him very much around here. He belongs to the kind of leaders that help us believe that there is something of value to rescue from the poor state of world's affairs and leadership nowadays.
It ranks among the safest countries on the continent, the best infrastructure and the least poverty in Latin America. It also has one of the highest literacy rates as well as one of the best medical care systems in South America.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, Uruguay generated US$2.025 billion in tourism revenue in 2012, a figure four times greater than the US$500 million in tourism dollars the country was attracting just a decade ago. Beyond numbers and statistics, you'll be greeted joyfully, embraced by the natural warmth and friendliness of the Uruguayans. That's a good slice of what you'd expect from your vacation in Uruguay, isn't it?
Top Uruguay Beaches
Punta del Este:Punta del Este (Point of the East) it's been called the St Tropez of South America, the most visited beach area in the country. Apart for many beaches to choose from within the city area (La Brava and La Mansa basically), it is comprised of unique beach communities that are collectively known as "Punta". At peak season - January and February - there are there are polo tournaments, yacht races, fashion shows, casino events, concerts and much more. It is the choicest spot for wealthy South Americans as well as the international rich and famous.
Jose Ignacio: Not long ago it used to be a sleepy fishing village, refuge for loners and the occasional celebrity seeking to escape the paparazzi in nearby Punta del Este. In the last five years, José Ignacio has evolved into arguably the choicest spot in Latin America, favored by jet-setters from around the world. It all started back to 1877, when a lighthouse was erected on a rocky peninsula that became José Ignacio.
La Pedrera: La Pedrera is a village and resort on the Atlantic Coast in the Rocha Department of Uruguay, located about 8 km (5 miles) northeast of La Paloma and 230km away from Montevideo. Two of its main beaches are El Desplayado and El Barco. The latter owes its name to a fishing boat that sunk in 1971, and it's favored by surfers. It's actually considered the best surfing spot in the Department of Rocha.
Punta del Diablo: A seaside village located 298 km (185 miles) east from Montevideo and 172 km (107 miles) from Punta del Este. It's favored by surfers as well as families looking for a quieter summer retreat. Two of its main beaches at Punta del Diablo are Rivero and La Viuda.
Atlántida: Atlántida (Atlantis) is a resort town of the Costa de Oro (Golden Coast) in Canelones Department of Uruguay, 45 km (28 miles) east of Montevideo. Loaded with sandy beaches that attract vacationers as well as daily visitors from Montevideo, one of its main attractions is El Aguila (The Eagle), a stone house in the shape of an eagle's head now a public museum.
Cabo Polonio: As fascinating as peculiar, it's one of Uruguay's wildest areas and home to its second biggest sea-lion colony. In 2009 the region was declared a national park, under the jurisdiction of Uruguay’s SNAP - Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas. It's one of the country's most rustic coastal villages that receives surfers with a hippie vibe as well as families. With no roads, piped water, or wired electricity, you need a 4x4 to get there - around $8 round-trip from the edge of the reserve.
Piriapolis: Located about 50km (65 miles) east of Montevideo, it owes its name to Francisco Piria, who founded the place in 1890. He built the Argentino Hotel - after the crowd he catered for - and a home referred to as Castillo de Piria or Piria's Castle. Uruguay's second premiere resort, Piriápolis attracts visitors who want excellent beaches and a relaxed vacation,
La Paloma: Located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, about 8 kilometres (5 miles) southwest of La Pedrera, on Cape Santa Maria. La Paloma (The Pigeon) was founded in 1874. It is less developed, less expensive and much less crowded than Punta del Este and one of the main oceanic swimming resorts in the Department of Rocha,
Colonia del Sacramento: It was born as Nova Colonia do Sacramento in 1680, founded by the Portuguese Manuel Lobo. Colonia is located by the Rio de la Plata, in southwest Uruguay, right in front of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although not a premier beach destination, it has some beaches to choose from, consider Real San Carlos, Oreja de Negro, Playa Municipal or Playa de Ferrando for instance. Its Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.