Punta del diablo
Punta del Diablo is a fishing village in Uruguay. In the summer it grows from a few hundred people to several thousand. Punta del Diablo has a bohemian feel, you'll see more white people with dreadlocks per capita here than anywhere else in south america. One person described it as something you'd expect to find in a 1970's lonely planet book.
The town is centered around a small square with a few shops, a school, and a beach with fishing boats.
Punta del Diablo is served by regular bus service to Chuy (the boarder with brazil), Rocha (departmental capital), and Montevideo. During the summer there is also seasonal service along the coast to La Paloma, La Piedra, and Punta del Este.
There are some buses which don't actually stop in Punta del Diablo, but just at the turn off at the highway. It's a 5km walk or an easy hitch hike in to town.
During the high season of tourism, January, all bus seats are sometimes booked days in advance.
Another suggestion is to rent a car from Montevideo and drive through the wonderful coastal towns and rural landscape. If you are 4 travelers or more consider this as it will give you flexibility and not confine you to a rather sparse bus schedule. Car rental cost VS 4 buses tickets are actually not that far off if you plan ahead. Should you rent a car in Montevideo do not rent from agencies directly in the port terminal arrival area but call other locations: you will be surprized that the price will be at least half that of the terminal agencies even if they are the same company.
It is possible walk from one end of town to the other in about an hour. For people staying at "el camping" on the main road in to town there is a regular bus service which brings people from there to the playa de pescadores (fisherhman's beach). Many locals have motos, 4 wheelers, or horses to get around. You do not need a vehicle to get around. There is a taxi which often is parked near the bus stop to carry your luggage to the house you've rented.
Good surfing, long beaches. Relaxed. Season starts in mid December and runs through mid February. Tourism week, as Uruguay calls Easter week, is also part of the high season. In the summer it's possible to take jeep tours to various local sights like the ombu forest, rent horses to ride along the beach, and generally enjoy the sun. As night there is a small club scene.
To the north it's possible to walk along the beach to the biological reserve Santa Teresa and then from there to the Fort of Santa Teresa an historic fort. To the south there is a nice walk to the lighthouse (faro) along the beach. It's possible to walk for 100km either direction along the beach as it's open and very sparsely populated.
- Horse Back Riding. Summer. You can rent horses for rides with a guide or on your own by the hour. It's a great way to explore the dunes and forest.
- Dune Boarding. In addition to playing in the water, there are some large dunes near Punta del Diablo, the surf shop sells dune boards. Think of it as snowboarding on sand dunes. Of course there is no lift, so it's a lot of work to walk up the hill. The best dunes are on the southern end of La Viuda beach.
There is no ATM, bring money.
- Ferria de artisanos, Playa de pescadores. There's a artisans market on the fishermans beach (it's easy to find, it's the beach with all the fishing boats). Some of the crafts are locally made, but a lot are imported from china. The ferria has a bathroom you can use for 10 pesos and several stands serving hot empanadas.
- Surf Shop, Main Road. There's a surf shop on the main street which is open during the summer. They sell clothing and surfboards as well as providing rentals by the day or hour.
There is a 'food plaza' (plaza de comidas) to the south of the center and restaurants along the main strip. During the off season most, but not all restaurants are closed. The cost of food is about twice as much as the rest of uruguay (excluding coastal holiday towns).
In addition to the restaurants it's possible to buy fish and sea food directly from the fishermen at stands along the beach.
- Nativos, Main Road (Ave Santa Teresa)(On the main road before the final curve). Nativos is the best restaurant in Punta del Diablo. It's run by a restaurant in Montevideo and the food is spectacular. They've got a walkway down to the stream, a pond, and nice grounds. Amazingly it's about the same price as many of the pizza places on the main strip.$$.
It would be wise for a traveler intending to stay a few days at any of the beach houses or apartment to bring their food and supplies before arriving. There is very little available in the village and quality is rather poor. There are small food stores along the highway and in Chuy up the road. In Chuy find stores that are not on the main "dividing" avenue but rather on the side streets: prices and quality are better.
There are about a dozen small bars and clubs in punta del diablo. Most of the clubs are up in the bosque (forest) above the fisherman's beach. The only one on the beach is diablo tranquilo.
The clubs serve alcohol all night, but things don't get started until late, it's not uncommon for people to head out at 3am and return after dawn. Anybody who shows up at the club at 11pm will find it empty.
There are a few small hotels and hostels in town. Most people rent cabins or a house during their stay. The cost range from $10 USD in the off season to $300 USD per night in the high season (Dec 15-Feb 15th). Almost every house in town gets rented out during the high season. In the low season the restaurants, most hotels, and cabin rentals shut down. Those that are open are much cheaper than the high season. It's possible to rent a house for a month in the low season for what it would cost for a day in January. Do note that no basic items are included in rentals: towels, bedding and toilet paper are for you to bring. Some rentals will "rent" you towels and bedding: 10$ USD for each bedding, towels are 5$ USD each...
During the first two weeks of January everything is full and reservations are required even for a bed in a shared room in one of the hostels.
El Diablo Tranquilo is a hostel and connected bar run by english speaking expats and is open all year round. It has free wifi.
- Portal del Diablo, . Most of the houses and cabins for rent are listed on the website, Portal del Diablo. From there you can contact the owner and rent a house. Pretty much every house in town is rentable during January. Usually people start reserving spaces in September.
Bus Travel Time:
- Chuy 1 hour
- Rocha 1.5 hours
- Punta del Este 3 hours
- Montevideo 4 hours