Punta del Este attracts the most arrogant and superficial Argentines and Brazilians with oversized Hollywood sunglasses who want to “see and be seen.” If you come here alone it’s very doubtful you will make new friends outside of the hostel. Everything is astronomically priced, especially the nightlife, making Western clubs seem cheap. Sun tan lotion runs at $25 a bottle. The beaches are nice but I recommend Puntal del Diablo instead.
Change of hooking up rating: 2 out of 5 ?
Punta del Este has ideal waves for beginner surfers. Walk north on Playa Brava from around the bus station until you get to a large red building shack that is a cafe. Cross the street at that point and on your right you will find Sun Valley Surf. I recommended their five-hour beginner course for $100 which includes board and wet-suit. Board rental is $35 for four hours.
Rent a bike to check out all the beaches. Buy handicrafts from Plaza Artigas.
La Barra is the overhyped, overpriced club zone nearby. To get there, go to the bus station to catch the 24-hour La Barra bus. These clubs are hard to get into after 2AM because of the crowds, so show up early. There are two sides of La Barra: the kiddies who drink outside and the filthy rich who are not phased by the cover charges. I don’t see why you’d want to hang out with either.
For an easier night out that is just as expensive, hit Calle 13 by the port and its several bars and clubs.
El Hostel (Arrecifes 544)
$30/night around New Years and $25/night for rest of January peak season. I’ve never seen a hostel try so hard to make a buck. The TV break room was converted into a massive dorm room so there was nowhere to eat or sit but outside. The staff was nice but the showers were usually cold with low pressure and breakfast was burnt toast. At least there were lockers. This is what happens when there are only two hostels in the city.
Other Cities In Uruguay
South America On A Shoestring Guidebook
This is the guidebook that I used in my six month trip in South America. The maps are excellent, the information is complete and thorough, and the reviews are accurate, which is why it's often called "the bible" by many travelers. The only problem is that everyone else has this book so if you are the type of person that wants to hit the isolated small towns you will be disappointed. My advice is to use this book for its maps and information on getting from city to city, but talk to the locals and other travelers for those isolated gems that Lonely Planet for some reason didn't find worthy to include.
Spanish For Beginners
My copy of this book is so beat up and weathered it's disintegrating before my eyes. I took it with me to South America because I loved how it was organized in a logical way that kept me motivated to keep studying. Lessons start short and easy and increase in complexity as you tackle frustrating readings that help take you to the next level. The only downside of this book is that it was originally published in 1957 so some of the vocabulary is very dated. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find a modern equivalent of this book whose teachings approach the same quality. Last time I checked you can grab a used copy from Amazon for less than a dollar.
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