Uruguay, the smallest country in South America, has many hidden gems to offer when it comes to beautiful and serene beaches. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Rio de la Plata, there are many spots where you can relax and enjoy the sun, sand and sea. In this post we will take you on a journey to explore the 12 best beaches in Uruguay and show you why they are worth a visit.
1. Playa Brava – Punta del Este
Playa Brava, located in the picturesque town of Punta del Este, is one of Uruguay’s most popular beaches. With its crashing waves and beautiful golden sand, this beach is perfect for surfers and beachgoers looking for something exciting. Playa Brava is also home to the famous sculpture La Mano, which has become a landmark of Punta del Este. In addition, the vast, five-mile stretch of coastline is a popular hangout for beach volleyball players, paddleboard enthusiasts and other sunbathers. Playa Brava is also lined with restaurants and cafes that serve delicious seafood and refreshing drinks. Sunset is on the Playa Mansa.
2. De los Pocitos Beach – Montevideo
The large Montevideo sign at Playa de los Pocitos is an unmissable attraction for all who land at this beautiful spot. The illustrious boardwalk, adorned with a parade of opulent homes, has become a selfie sensation. With an abundance of colorful umbrellas, gorgeous deck chairs, and sun loungers, the beach gets busy on weekends, adding to its photographic splendor. View the captivating panorama from the Rambla promenade, which winds gracefully along the coast. But for the ultimate sensory treat, dangle your toes in the soft, deep white sand. A true playground for all, the beach exudes an atmosphere of inclusivity, with plenty of room for soccer and volleyball tournaments. And if that was not enough to satisfy your wanderlust, the upscale neighborhood of Pocitos is a charming destination with its own temptations: trendy stores, exquisite restaurants, and various attractions such as museums and art galleries where you can let your mind wander while you take a break from the sun.
3. Las Grutas Beach – Punta del Este
Playa Las Grutas is located at kilometer 123 of the Route Interbalnearia, east of the famous peninsula of Punta Ballena. This vast and magnificent beach, aptly named Las Grutas, is blessed with the pristine waters of Maldonado Bay. Looking east, you will see the impressive Punta del Chileno, while to the west opens up a fascinating canvas of rocks, cliffs and caves sculpted by the relentless force of the shimmering sea. These huge caves give the beach its name and also form one of the most remarkable landscapes in Punta del Este.
For those who want to enjoy the wonders of nature, Las Grutas beach is an incomparable destination with impressive natural attractions such as the towering vaults and labyrinthine passages of the legendary caves. The beach’s sheltered location ensures that it is protected from turbulent winds thanks to the towering cliff that overlooks it. A stone staircase invites visitors to climb to the top, where the hill of Punta Ballena offers an exceptional viewpoint that stretches over the endless sea.
4. Jose Ignacio Beach – Punta del Este
In the charming town of José Ignacio, just a short drive from Punta del Este, Playa José Ignacio is a hidden gem well worth the trip. This quiet beach with its soft sand and calm waters is ideal for those looking to escape the crowds. The beach is surrounded by lush vegetation and sand dunes, giving it a natural and unspoiled feel.
If you are feeling adventurous, you should visit the nearby lighthouse, which offers breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding area. You can also explore the quaint town of José Ignacio, known for its trendy restaurants and boutiques.
5. Playa Verde – Piriapolis
In the midst of a tranquil environment, away from traffic and noise, lies Playa Verde – a former fishing village that has now been transformed into an idyllic destination for relaxation and fun. With the soothing sound of the sea and hills against a backdrop of rocks and pristine sand, Playa Verde is the perfect seaside resort to relax and unwind in Piriapolis.
If you are feeling adventurous, head to nearby Cerro del Toro for incredible views of the ocean and surrounding area. In Playa Verde you will also find some of the best seafood restaurants in the region, serving fresh fish and traditional Uruguayan dishes.
6. Mansa Beach – Punta del Este
Mansa Beach – Playa Mansa – is located on the quieter side of Punta del Este and is a must for families and beachgoers looking for a relaxing atmosphere. With its calm waters and soft sand, this beach is ideal for swimming and sunbathing. The beach is surrounded by beautiful parks and gardens, making it an ideal place for a picnic or a game of Frisbee.
Do not miss the opportunity to try the famous Uruguayan barbecue in one of the many restaurants near the beach. Playa Mansa also offers various sports and recreational activities, including kayaking, windsurfing and beach volleyball and people watch the beautiful sunsets on this side of Punta del Este.
7. La Pedrera Beach – Rocha
La Pedrera beach is located in the department of Rocha and is one of the most beautiful places in Uruguay. This beach is ideal for surfing, enjoying the sunsets and sunrises and relaxing with your loved ones. The beach is surrounded by lush vegetation that adds to its charm. La Pedrera is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with bars and restaurants that offer a lively and exciting atmosphere during the high summer season only.
If you are looking for accommodation, La Pedrera Beach is home to surfers and a younger crowd and you can find small hotels or hostels to stay. Whether you want to relax with your family or go on a romantic getaway, La Pedrera Beach has everything you need. The nearby San Antonio beach is also a great place with an unspoiled wide sandy beach with hardly anyone there.
8. Cabo Polonio, Rocha – La Calavera (North) Beach & Sur (South) Beach
Cabo Polonio is a charming little coastal town in Rocha. The place is known for its natural beauty, wild sea lions and the Cabo Polonio lighthouse. It is also home to two of Uruguay’s most beautiful beaches: La Calavera to the north and Sur Beach to the south.
La Calavera beach is perfect for those who love adventure. It is a rocky and secluded beach, which makes it a great place for exploration. Sur Beach, on the other hand, is a quiet and relaxing beach, ideal for those who want to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The two beaches allow you to enjoy two very different and beautiful landscapes at the same time.
From La Calavera you can take a hike of about 4 miles through the dunes to the Cerro de la Buena Vista in Barra de Valizas. Along the way, you’ll have breathtaking views of Cabo Polonio with its picturesque homes and ranches set against the expanse of ocean. Discover a distinctive Uruguayan landscape, where the sand is the main feature, offering an unforgettable visual pleasure.
If you are looking for a unique accommodation, Cabo Polonio offers some of the best eco-friendly accommodations in Uruguay. They offer a rustic and charming atmosphere with amenities like solar-powered electricity, outdoor showers and composting toilets. Cabo Polonio is a great destination for those who want to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature.
9. Carrasco Beach – Montevideo
The beautiful Carrasco Beach is located in the affluent Carrasco neighborhood in Montevideo and offers a magnificent view of the Rio de la Plata. Carrasco beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and enjoying the breathtaking sunsets. This beach is also known for its luxury properties, with beautiful villas and mansions that offer stunning views of the beach and the sea.
If you are looking for accommodation, Carrasco beach is home to some of the best luxury hotels in Uruguay. They offer amazing amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers and gourmet restaurants. Carrasco Beach is a great destination for those who want to enjoy a luxurious and sophisticated vacation.
10. Playa La Colorada – Piriapolis
Playa La Colorada in Piriapolis is a perfect spot for those who love water sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing. Playa La Colorada is also a great place for fishing, with a wide variety of fish species that can be caught throughout the year. This compact sandy beach is very popular for a reason. It is located in a small bay protected by the headlands of Punta Colorada and Punta Negra, just outside the small town of Piriápolis.
From Playa La Colorada, you can immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of this popular vacation destination by walking along the beachfront eastwards from Punta Negra to Punta del Este. The trail is 20 miles long, but the breathtaking views make it a rewarding experience.
11. Punta del Diablo – Rocha
Punta del Diablo is a small fishing village in Rocha, Uruguay. The place is known for its unconventional and relaxed atmosphere and its beautiful beaches. Punta del Diablo is ideal for those who like surfing, fishing and swimming. This beach is also a great place to go hiking and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Playa de la Viuda, Playa del Rivero, Playa de Los Pescadores and Playa Grande are four beaches worth visiting.
Playa de la Viuda, also known as La Viuda Beach, is a safe and large sandy beach that is about 3 miles long. It is ideal if you are looking for a quiet beach to walk or sunbathe. It is tranquil and uncrowded, with great sand and water.
Playa del Rivero is one of the most famous beaches in Punta del Diablo, attracting visitors of all ages with its breathtaking beauty and safe environment. This easy-to-reach beach is a must-see and is great for sunbathing and family activities. It stretches for about 0.8 km, making it one of the medium-sized beaches. The beach’s waters are ideal for swimming and surfing, and visitors can also play a game of volleyball.
Los Pescadores beach is located in the heart of Punta del Diablo and is a charming attraction where you can see handmade fishing boats. This picturesque beach is nestled between the famous Rivero Beach and a rocky headland that separates it from La Viuda Beach, providing a stunning backdrop. Families in particular love the shallow and calm waters that contribute to the traditional and authentic feel. In addition, just a few meters from the first row of beaches there is an artisan market, ideal to fortify yourself against the scorching summer heat with delicious treats or refreshing drinks.
Playa Grande is about 25 minutes from Punta del Diablo and it’s worth it! It is the first beach of Santa Teresa Park that you can reach from Punta del Diablo, and it is an absolute delight. This beach has a gorgeous bay that is protected from the south wind, making it an ideal place for exciting activities such as surfing, standup paddle, kayaking, hiking, swimming and sandboarding. Visitors can rest easy knowing there is a lifeguard on duty during the season. Whether you are an expert or a beginner, the waves of Playa Grande are perfect for everyone to learn and have fun.
12. La Esmeralda Beach – Rocha
The forest of La Esmeralda boasts of its peaceful ambiance and its vast, fine, white sand beach surrounded by a rustic terrain of dunes, forests and the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is the perfect place for a family outing or a secluded retreat to meditate or admire the tranquility of nature. In the summer season, the beach is guarded by a lifeguard and offers various sports activities. For intrepid travelers, a beach walk about four miles southwest leads to the neighboring village of Vuelta del Palmar, or Los Moros as it is colloquially known, where the wreck of the ship El Cocal, beached in 1969, can be found. Fishing is permitted in designated areas for enthusiasts.