20 Uruguay Beaches

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Uruguay is a South American destination frequently skipped by travellers. Although it is smaller and less famous than its neighbours, the country has a huge variety of things to see, including beautiful landscapes, historical sights, and of course, stunning beaches. The joy of Uruguay is that it remains largely untouched by tourists, meaning less development and a more traditional way of life.

The beaches in Uruguay still offer everything you could want, including snorkelling, diving and other water sports, but more often than not, they are in seaside fishing towns with local beach bars and natural attractions nearby, such as jungles and national parks. Except for the capital, Montevideo, which is just as thriving and energetic as many other South American cities, you will find the country peaceful, allowing you to enjoy the attractions and sandy beaches of Uruguay.

Uruguay Beaches

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Punta del Este Day Trip – Enjoy sun and sea on this guided day trip from Montevideo.

20 Beaches In Uruguay

1- La Balconada Beach

beautiful uruguay beaches
La Paloma lighthouse was built in 1874 and declared a national monument in 1976.

Located in the popular area of La Paloma, La Balconada is easily one of the best and busiest beaches in Uruguay.

The beach stretches around to Cabo Santa Maria Lighthouse and is extremely popular with students and young people.

If you head here in the summer or on weekends, the beach will likely be jam-packed with people ready to party or have a barbecue.

It’s also known as an excellent surfing spot.

If you visit during the week, it is much quieter for most of the day, and you can enjoy swimming and plenty of beachside seafood restaurants, bars and more.

The beach is a favourite spot to watch a sunset, so in the evenings, you’ll start to see the crowds pick up again and can join in with local parties and live music late into the night.

2- Pocitos Beach

montevideo uruguay beaches
A storm brewing over Pocitos beach in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Pocitos Beach is in a neighbourhood of the same name and is home to many of the wealthier residents of Uruguay.

This means nearby you can find upmarket shops and restaurants.

The pretty golden beach is backed by a promenade, with apartments, cafes, bars and restaurants overlooking the beach.

While you’re there, it’s likely you may see a local sporting event, as the beach is often used for volleyball tournaments, swimming competitions and sailing races.

This beach in Uruguay is very close to the Montevideo Naval Museum, which is the place to learn more about the country’s history.

3- Playa de Rivero

Although on the smaller side, if you’re in the area, don’t discount the cute Playa de Rivero.

The beach is very family-oriented, as it has soft sand and waves that are safe for swimming.

As the beach is the northernmost of all the beaches in Punta del Diablo, you’ll find a small fishing town and some local markets.

On any given day, you’ll find residents enjoying the beach, which is popular for beachside sports and surfing.

In summer, which is the high season, the bars and restaurants that close their doors for winter are buzzing with people and serving fresh drinks and seafood caught right on the beach.

4- Piriapolis Beach

uruguay beaches
Boats at Piriapolis, Uruguay.

Piriapolis beach is a stretch of sand going on for almost 7km along the coastal town of Rio de Plata.

The region of Piriapolis is one of Uruguay’s most popular summer resorts for locals and has over 25km of coastline, but its namesake beach stands out.

The beach is stunning, with a boardwalk lined with restaurants and cafes.

You’ll often see people jogging or cycling here and many hotels lining the beach.

It is a popular beach in Uruguay, both with international travellers and those from neighbouring countries such as Argentina.

Don’t miss taking the lift up to San Antonio church for amazing views, or if you’re feeling active, hike the nearby Cerro Pan de Azúcar for equally impressive vistas.

5- Cabo Polonio Beach

beaches of uruguay
Amazing view of a lifeguard tower on the Uruguay beach in Cabo Polonio at sunset.

Cabo Polonio is a small and remote fishing village, home to two equally impressive interconnected beaches called Playa Sur and La Calavera.

You’re unlikely to find anyone else if you make it there as it’s a 7km hike across sand dunes to reach the village.

The good news is that once you’re there, you can enjoy the dunes to yourself, go swimming or visit the village.

The rocky outcrops here are also the perfect spot to see the locals, namely, a colony of sea lions who lounge here in the sun.

Due to its remoteness, you’ll need to bring almost everything with you, but you will find a few local restaurants and shops where you can grab a snack or a sit-down meal.

6- La Esmeralda Beach

Another beach in the locality of Rocha, La Esmeralda, is a wild and windswept beach, perfect for an authentic day of exploring.

The beach is covered in dunes and backed by forest and although you will normally see local families spending the day on the sand, it never gets too busy.

If you’re up for a walk, you can explore the entire length of the beach – around 7km, to reach the shipwreck of El Cocal, which was stranded here in 1969.

In the warmer months, you can also play water and beachside sports, such as volleyball, surfing and soccer.

7- La Pedrera Beach

uruguay beaches la pedrera
La Pedrera is one of the stunning natural beaches in Uruguay.

Rocha is home to many beautiful beaches, two of which are backed by the town of La Pedrera.

The first beach, Playa del Barco, is great for adventurers, with rocky cliffs to climb up for excellent sunset views, a shipwreck lying right on the white sand and waves big enough for surfing.

The second beach, El Desplayado, is slightly quieter and generally gets smaller swells, making it ideal for families or those just wanting to set up camp and relax on the sand.

There’s not much tourism infrastructure here, except a few guest houses and restaurants, and in the evenings, you’ll see locals setting up bonfires on the beach and chatting into the night.

8- Costa Azul

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Have a drink of mate on one of the beautiful beaches in Uruguay.

Costa Azul is one of the best beaches in the coastal area known as the Golden Coast (Costa de Oro).

Combine these golden sands with the sparkling blue sea, and you’ll quickly understand where Costa Azul gets its name.

The beach is only around 50km from Uruguay’s capital, so it is perfect for those wanting to escape from the city.

The sand is soft, and the waves are small, making it ideal for swimming.

The beaches here are fairly flat and exposed to the wind, making them popular with kitesurfers and windsurfers.

Because the Costa de Oro is filled with beautiful beaches, you won’t ever be far from a decent place to stay and excellent local food.

9- Punta Ballena

Punta Ballena or ‘Whale Point’ is a stretch of 7.5 miles (12km) of beaches.

Unsurprisingly, the area is famous for the population of whales and orcas that migrate here during the winter months, however if you miss these, there’s still plenty to see.

The area is well-developed, with hotels, restaurants and bars, but still remains mostly quiet.

It has beautiful cliffs, where you might spot people hang gliding when it’s windy.

Don’t miss Casa Pueblo, the former home of Carlos Vilaro, a popular Uruguayan painter.

The house is now a museum and has a café with some of the best views in the area.

10- Jose Ignacio Beach

beaches uruguay
The famous lighthouse in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay and the beach.

Jose Ignacio is around 20km from the town of La Barra and is very different to many of Uruguay’s typical golden beaches.

The sand here has a slightly copper tint, and the beach is relatively small.

The most common thing you’ll see is the local fishing boats going in and out with fresh catches.

On some rocky bluffs behind the beach is an iconic white lighthouse, which makes for a nice short walk, and there are also two small lagoons you can explore or go swimming in.

Kayaking, snorkelling and fishing are very popular in the area and you can try these activities by renting some equipment nearby.

Some of the best things to do here are horse-riding, watching the sunset and enjoying an asado – a local-style barbecue cooked over an open fire.

11- Carmelo Beaches

Carmelo is a peaceful, local holiday destination for a weekend break.

The two most popular beaches here are Playa Sere, which is largely devoid of developments, hotels and anything else that might spoil it, which naturally means people love to spend the day relaxing here.

The second is Zagarzazú, which is less popular for swimming as the water can be fairly silted from the nearby river, but is somehow even more deserted, where you’ll only have trees and fish for company.

Don’t worry about being short on amenities, as this is still a place frequented by locals, and there’s a lovely marina to explore, as well as many hotels and local steak houses.

12- Pinamar Beach

Another golden gem on the Costa de Oro, Playa Pinamar is the perfect example of a quiet and family-friendly beach.

With calm, shallow waters and soft yellow sand, many people come here to go swimming or relax and sunbathe for the day.

Conditions are ideal here for fishing and water sports, except for surfing.

Positively, you won’t find many international tourists here, so hotels, restaurants and activities remain very affordable, and you can often catch free live music events and performances on the beach in the evenings.

13- Playa Ramirez

Playa Ramirez is a beach fairly close to Montevideo, making it easily accessible for a day or half-day trip to get some sea and sand.

The promenade behind the beach, known as the Rambla, is very popular with locals for walking, cycling and sitting in cafes with a drink.

Due to its proximity to the city, this beach can get quite crowded, and you’ll find it is very well-developed with shops, restaurants and activity centres everywhere.

There’s even a Mcdonald’s if you’re craving a fast-food snack.

Ramirez is also a stopping point for many cruises, so at certain points of the day it can get busy with disembarking passengers, however for a short break from the city with plenty on offer, it can be the ideal place.

14- Playa Brava

uruguay beaches punta del este
The Hand Sculpture is a symbol of Punta del Este, making in one of the most famous beaches in Uruguay.

Playa Brava has become one of the most famous beaches in Uruguay, located in the popular area of Punta del Este, due to a famous sculpture of a giant hand rising out of the sand.

The artwork has become a major attraction for photographers and wedding backdrops; however, this is just the tip of things on offer.

This resort area has hundreds of sports rental shops where you can hire surfboards, kayaks, snorkelling gear and more to get out on the water or hire an instructor to learn to paddleboard or windsurf.

There are sunbeds lining the beach, too, although these are usually quickly snapped up by savvy locals who arrive early.

There is an endless choice of restaurants and cafes offering seafood, steaks and barbecue food.

In the evening, head to the dunes at the end of the beach to watch the sunset and try your hand at sandboarding.

15- Playa Grande

beaches in uruguay punta del diablo
A typical beach shack at Punta del Diablo on the beach in Uruguay.

Like Rivero beach, Playa Grande is in Punta del Diablo and is the most unspoilt and tranquil in the area.

The beach also separates the area from Santa Teresa National Park, however in winter, the beach is cold and so it can only be visited for 10 months of the year.

There is virtually nothing on this beach besides some sand dunes and grassy walking trails, so bring everything with you and be prepared for untouched beauty.

The waters are suitable for swimming and if you’re lucky, you might spot a pod of local dolphins splashing about.

In the evenings, you might be joined by a few locals watching the sun go down with a drink or two.

16- Playa Verde

uruguay best beaches
Hotels on the beach in Uruguay at Punta del Este.

About 10 km from Punta del Este lies La Barra, in the region of Maldonado.

The coastal area here is very popular with tourists due to its pretty and quiet beaches and lively town centre filled with local galleries, shops and restaurants.

The main beach in La Barra is Playa Verde, which is made up of three smaller stretches of sand, all of which are clean, quiet and safe for swimming.

It isn’t just family-centric, however, and has something for everyone, with the nearby town centre and also beachfront hosting performances, live music and barbecues enjoyed by everyone into the early hours.

17- La Floresta

La Floresta is the oldest resort town on Uruguay’s ‘Golden Coast’ and it hasn’t lost any of its charm.

The town here has a population of only 1500, so it stays quiet most of the time.

During the summer months, the limited vacation rentals here get booked up quickly, but if you visit on either side, you can still take advantage of its beauty.

Outside of the high season, you’ll find the beach deserted, which is ideal if you’re searching for peace and quiet.

However, the infrastructure here leaves much to be desired, with fairly poor internet and patchy electricity in some places, so prepare to switch off for a few days.

18- Los Titanes

Situated in the region of Canelones, also on the Costa de Oro, Los Titanes is a seaside resort town that’s been developed to accommodate tourism.

The beach is small; only around 1km long, so you can easily walk the length of it, and the surf is calm, so swimming is popular.

There are a couple of hills and cliffs which are worth the climb to be rewarded with beautiful views of the coast, and on clear days you can usually see Albardones Island in the distance.

The nearby town of the same name has plenty to offer for when you get hungry or want to browse for locally-made gifts, and there are multiple hotels and guesthouses to make your base.

19- Neptunia

best beaches uruguay
Another beach in Uruguay to check out is Rio de La Plata Colonia del Sacramento.

Neptunia is a seaside village in the region of Rio de la Plata. The name refers to the river running through the area called the Pando.

Multiple beaches stretch along the coastline of Neptunia, all with picture-perfect powdery sand and warm waters.

The sea is gentle, with low waves, so surfing isn’t on offer, but swimming, fishing and other water sports are popular in the ocean and on the river.

Although the area certainly isn’t overdeveloped, there are still plenty of food options, with beachside restaurants for a sit-down meal with a view, kiosks for a quick snack and bars for a sundowner.

20- Bella Vista

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The sandy Uruguay beach of Rio de La Plata Colonia del Sacramento.

Bella Vista is in the municipality of Maldonado and is a resort town about 52 miles (85 km) from Montevideo.

The beach here is more hit-and-miss in terms of finding a spot to put your towel, as the beach is a mix of sand and pebbles.

Instead of sunbathing, many people who come here opt to climb the nearby cliffs or go fishing from the pier.

There is also a beautiful woodland across the highway, which can be explored via walking trails.

Bring as much as possible if you’re heading to Bella Vista, as although there are a couple of local shops, the nearest place to get food and supplies is on the Route 10 highway.

Local markets and the lack of amenities add to its reputation as a tranquil coastal escape.

For more beaches around the world read:

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India Jayne trainor
India-Jayne Trainor is a British/Australian freelance writer, photographer and contributor to various online blogs and travel websites. She has travelled to almost 30 countries, most recently Cuba and Sri Lanka. Her work focuses on solo female travel, having spent two months backpacking alone through South East Asia as well as living in Germany for a year. Her favourite country to date has been Hong Kong, but she is happy in any country by the ocean. Her next destinations are Uzbekistan and a road trip through the American Mid-West. India is currently based in London, UK.