Punta del Diablo: beaches, food, and art in the coast of Uruguay
January 1, 1970
by Camila Blanco
Why choose Punta del Diablo?
If you want to experience the real adventure of a road trip like Sal Paradise in On the Road or if you want a family trip that your kids will remember forever then Punta del Diablo is the best choice.
The perfect location
Punta del Diablo is a fishing village located in Rocha department, right on the east coast of Uruguay. It is known for having a bohemian and artsy vibe as well as for its beautiful three beaches: La Viuda, Rivero, and Playa de los Pescadores. It is three hours away from Montevideo, the capital and major city of the country, but once you get there you will feel like a million miles away from the urban life. It is perfect for you to disconnect from your daily routine and appreciate nature. It is near other amazing places for camping like Santa Teresa, La Pedrera, and La Paloma, so if you can accommodate it, include them in your schedule, or if you are near, pay a visit to this wonderful fishing village by bus or even by hitching a ride.
Beaches for every taste: Playa Rivero, La Viuda, and Playa de los Pescadores
The best beaches for extreme sports in Uruguay
Punta del Diablo‘s beaches bathe in the clear water of the Atlantic Ocean, which means they usually have a choppy sea perfect for surfing. Even if you know nothing about surf you could easily learn in one of the many schools located in the Rivero beach. It does not matter your age; the instructors will help you out and by the end of the summer you will be an expert! If you are up to a more extreme experience you could try paragliding and enjoy the amazing view of the coast of Rocha at 1600 feet above the ground.
For a less risky activity, you could choose to go to Playa de los Pescadores, the quiet one out of the three, and practice your fishing. It is small beach and most of the people who go there are willing to fish while enjoying the sound of the sea. Even more, in Rivero beach, there are masseurs that offer their work in exchange for any amount you are willing to pay. In that way, you would be able to have a relaxing morning as you are in a spa, but with a better surrounding and for less money.
Where to spend the night
Even if you only planned to spend a day there, by nighttime you will find yourself wanting to stay. Fortunately, you have a handful of different options according to your budget and taste. On the cheaper end, there are camping lots which are the cheapest option. I recommend you this if you are backpacking because you will meet like-minded people on the same track, and will have new friends and maybe new adventure partners if you are traveling solo. Want a cheap option but you do not have the right equipment for camping? There are a lot of hostels on and off the beach with an amazing view and a good scent of the ocean. On the more expensive side, you could always stay in cabins. They are not usually luxurious, but they sure are cozy and nice. Some of them even have a pool that you can use outside of beach hours since in the Uruguayan summer it is heavily recommended to stay out of the sun around noon. It shines beautifully, but also strong so that is utterly important to protect your skin. Because of that, I advise you buy a high factor of sunblock between thirty and fifty.
Food: where and what to eat
Typical cuisine: seafood and asado
Being a fishing village, the obvious culinary choice in Punta del Diablo is seafood. There are the classic options like squid rings, garlic shrimp, and a wide variety of fish. But you also must taste the algae fritters, the pride of Rocha. Once you take one you won´t be able to stop eating. It is also the best option for vegetarians and vegans. On the other hand, in your camping lot or your cabin, you will probably have a barbecue to prepare your very own Uruguayan asado. It is the classic dish of Uruguay and it consists of grilled cow meat seasoned with different condiments and cooked by the heat of embers, instead of the typical coal used in American barbecues and in the Argentinian version, with which the Uruguayan disputes the true way of making asado. If you are not into cooking or prefer eating out, you could always find a lot of grill houses.
Beach restaurants: Paradores
On the beach, there are some places called Paradores that offer seafood and some snacks for your mornings and afternoons at the beach. The most popular snack in the menu is boiled corn which is flavored with butter and salt and served with the husk. They also sell refreshing drinks with and without alcohol. One of them is caipirinha, an alcoholic beverage originally from Brazil, prepared with caña, lemon and a fruit of your choice, usually mango or pineapple.
Pastries and dessert
Continuing with the food, there are bakeries which prepare fresh pastries and bizcochos in the morning and in the afternoon when the people are up for eating something sweet. Bizcochos are a kind of biscuit made of flour and fat or, rarely, butter. Also, there are some locals who do home-made food. This is an extremely cheap option, and sometimes the tastier one. I particularly fell in love with the ojitos (little eyes). Its name is due to its shape: a circle of dough with another circle of quince inside. They are made with a special sweet dough that could be made with lemon, chocolate, vanilla or orange, it is your choice!
In Uruguay, the night starts late and ends early in the next morning so if you enjoy the night you will really seize this time. In the center of the town, there are a lot of bars and pubs for you to go with your friends and meet new people while you have some drinks. In February´s Thursdays, there are different artists who do a performance in the night, one of them is Luciano Supervielle, well known for being part of the famous group Bajofondo, which played at Coachella in 2009.
In the late afternoon, the craft market opens with a wide variety of hand-made things: there are dreamcatchers of all sizes and colors, cloth bracelets with cutes sea shells, swimsuits, and souvenirs for you to bring to your friends at home. If you are into art, you will be amazed by the original work of local or foreign artists who are traveling.
I know it could be scary to go on an adventure on your own, especially if it is your first one, but in Rocha, you will find friendly people who will always be eager to help you with anything you need. Being nice and generous is the pride of the Uruguayan.
To sum up, come enjoy sunny days and make memories as unforgettable as the people you will meet.