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When people outside of Uruguay speak of Argentina and Brazil’s pint-sized intermediary neighbor, the first thing to come to mind for most is Punta del Este, the exclusive international jet set resort. But rarely mentioned is the 180 km (112 miles) of gorgeous white-sand beaches to “Punta’s” east.

 

The shores of Rocha, the easternmost coastal province of Uruguay are studded with balnearios, (coastal towns), many of which are rich in history, culture, and beauty—perfect for any open-minded traveler who wants to take a bold step off the beaten path.

 

Each of Rocha’s balnearios has its own unique character. Many have charming lighthouses, oceanic views, and colorful street-markets. The westernmost balneario of La Paloma is the largest and most touristy of the villages with a population that more than quadruples during the January high-season.

 

Located roughly 125 km (78 miles) east of Punta del Este, La Paloma is easily accessible from Montevideo or Punta, and has a number of restaurants and hotels, often with English-speaking personnel. Four kilometers (2.5 miles) east, a pot-hole freckled dirt road passes through the quaint fruit markets and modest restaurants of La Pedrera before ending at a steep, grassy hill overlooking the stunning beach below. You can take a crude staircase down to the shore, which is lined with sharp jutting rocks in varying shades of brown, slate and gold.

 

A twenty-minute drive down the road is Valizas, a balneario with a distinctly “hippie” flavor. Valizas is hiking distance from the remarkable small balneario, Cabo Polonio. Completely devoid of electricity and paved roads, the only way to reach Cabo Polonio is on foot, horseback, or in huge four-by-four dune buggies, which drive over hills, dunes and beach to reach the town center, a large dirt circle crowded with stands selling chivitos (a thin steak with egg, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and other optional accoutrements), chorizo sausages, funky jewelry, and other local specialties. East of the town, huge, golden sand dunes hulk. In the summertime, sea lions swim in droves to sun themselves on the smooth rocks near the lighthouse, and you can watch toninas (a type of dolphin) arcing through the peacock-hued water, while experiencing the laid-back, bohemian atmosphere of the waterfront restaurants and bars.

 

Further up the coast, the more established but still charmingly rustic Punto del Diablo offers great surf, food, and atmosphere. From Punto del Diablo you can easily visit Santa Teresa National Park, which features not only magnificent beaches, perfect for star-gazing or sun-bathing, but also gorgeous views of the green, gently undulating landscape, a fort from the mid-1700s, several eateries, a cactus garden, and a museum, to name a few of its many attractions. The majority of visitors camp, but there are cabañas available for rent as well.

 

It is not only the beautiful beaches and landscapes that make Rocha exceptional—it is a place to relax but also to experience another culture, another environment, and, sometimes, another way of life. Whether you’re horseback riding on the beach, wandering the ombu forests, exploring lighthouses, observing wildlife, or watching the sun set over the water with a cold drink on the porch of a straw-roofed hut, anyone with an adventurous spirit, a love of nature, or both, will find themselves overwhelmed with possibilities in Rocha.



Did you like this article? Then you'll like these: Calle De Los Suspiros, Carmelo, Punta Gorda, Graf Spee Museum, Montevideo Carnaval, Punta del Este, Carlos Gardel, Festival Of Iemanjá, Fiesta De La Patria Gaucha and Walking Between Cabo Polonio And Barra De Valizas.


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