Punta del Diablo
Earth : South America : Uruguay : Atlantic Coast (Uruguay) : Punta del Diablo
Every summer the town grows from a few hundred residents to upwards of twenty thousand vacationers, consisting of mainly Argentinians, Brazilians and Uruguayans. Although the peak season is defined by a primarily regional crowd, Punta del Diablo has established the Uruguayan coast as a destination for a growing number of foreign travelers throughout the year.
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 essence of the charming balneario, known for its eclectic architecture and traditional artisan fishing industry, differs greatly from summer to winter. While the two seasons are very distinct they both have a lot of appeal. The summer consists of sunbathing on one of the several gorgeous beaches and partying the night away at the town’s popular night clubs among throngs of eager vacationers trying to make the most of their summer holidays. Winter, on the other hand, is much quieter. Travelers enjoy deliciously deserted beaches, unbeatable surfing conditions and fireside chats. Without the crowds, slow season in Punta del Diablo is all about getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and finding your own idyllic coastal escape.
Amid the notable development which houses summer crowds the town itself maintains its rustic charm, with only a handful of colorful shops, a seasonal outcropping of bohemian cafes, a school and a beach full of fishing boats.
Punta del Diablo is served by regular bus service to Chuy (the border with brazil), Rocha (departmental capital), and Montevideo. From Montevideo there are three major companies COT, CYNSA and Rutas del Sol all around 500$ per person, take a bus headed to Chuy. During the summer there is also seasonal service along the coast to La Paloma, La Pedrera and Punta del Este.
Punta del Diablo has a small bus terminal with a tourist information and counters of the major bus lines. From there you can get a cheap colletivo into town (25$/person).
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 into 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 versus 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 surprised 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.
There is one ATM, which only operates during the summer, it only dispenses pesos - many accommodation owners want to be paid in US dollars. There is a bank on the Uruguayan side of Chuy (about one hour's bus journey away) that will give US dollar cash advances.
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.
There are four or five small supermarkets in town, some of which have butcher's counters.
There are about a dozen small bars and clubs in Punta del Diablo, most of which are located in the center of town. During the high season, you can always find a place to have some drinks while enjoying some live music.
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. Prices escalate!
Bus Travel Time:
For Florianopolis you have to take a bus to Chuy (72 UYU, Feb'14) and get of the bus at the Aduana Chuy (border control/uruguay exit) to catch for example the EGA bus. (consider 1 hour delay).