This is where many South Americans come to play, especially the moneyed class. When you are at Punta del Este you could be at Australia’s Surfers Paradise, Mexico’s Cancun or Spanish Costa del Sol. The main activity here focuses around the beach, and Punta del Este has lots of it. It is Uruguay’s Riviera where many of Brazilian, Argentine and Uruguayan elite, including corrupt dictators from Latin America, have built mansions and luxurious holiday homes here. The price of real estate in Punta del Este is alarming, costing millions of dollars. Because of the wealth poured into this place, Punta del Este is very clean, modern and well-kept. Along the beaches, mid-rise well-appointed apartments line up to get a good view of the ocean. Many of these apartments lie empty during the winter months, come summer months, between December and February, you would find it difficult to obtain a room despite the high rents.
Because it caters to the well-to-do, Punta del Este has a lot of tony shops, boutiques and shopping malls. Strategically located along the coasts are expensive restaurants and cafes. One would be able to spot a glamourous Brazilian model or a famous Argentine actor, because Punta del Este is the place to be seen. The body beautiful is de-rigeur here, so if you are out of shape, you may stand out in the crowd.
The area around the resorts is actually very beautiful. This is the reason for its popularity. There are lots of hilly peninsulas and coves surrounding Punta del Este that offer fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean namely, Punta de la Ballena and Piriapolis. South Americans love this place. A monument shaped like a gigantic hand rising out from the sand was commissioned to commemorate the 5 countries that comprise the Mercosur trading bloc in South America.
Punta del Este has a very short history. Back in the early 1900's it was just a small simple fishing village called Villa Ituzaingo'. Enamoured by the wide sandy beaches, some investors saw the potential of this place as a seaside resort and built small cottages by the beach. As word of mouth spread around, the area soon became recognised as a great holiday destination in the 1940's. Hotels were later built and many Brazilians and Argentines started building holiday homes in Punta del Este to escape their humdrum lives in Buenos Aires, Montevideo or Porto Alegre during the summer months.
Since then, Punta del Este has been a favourite hangout of holiday makers in the region. As the airport infrastructure have been improved, more and more vacationeers flocked to Punta del Este to ride the surf at La Brava beach, which faces the Atlantic Ocean, or to soak up the sun at La Mancha beach, which faces south with a calmer surf.
Punta del Este has a port and a well-appointed yacht club. Cruise ships and yacht afficionados sail into the port for some rest and recreation. The municipality of Maldonado, which controls Punta del Este, has marketed the place as the tourism mecca of Uruguay. The city now boasts world class casinos and entertainment complexes. The municipality has made it easy for prospectors, including foreign ones, to invest in real estate here. As a result, Punta del Este has become the Dubai of South America, where many rich Argentines, Brazilians and elsewhere have bought land in the exclusive suburbs, such as Bel Air, to build mansions.
You come to Punta del Este to relax and have fun in the sun. Not much historical sights, but if you like adventurous water sports or mix with the glamourous crowd, Punta del Este could be the one for you!