Punta del Este has excellent bathing beaches, the calm playa mansa on the bay side, the rough playa brava on the ocean side. There are some small beaches hemmed in by rocks on this side of the peninsula, but most people go to where the extensive playa brava starts, opposite the Hotel Playa. Papa Charlie beach on the Atlantic (Parada 13) is preferred by families with small children as it is safe. Quieter beaches are at La Barra and beyond.
Isla de Gorriti, visited by explorers including Solís, Magellan and Drake, was heavily fortified by the Spanish in the 1760’s to keep the Portuguese out. The island, densely wooded and with superb beaches, is an ideal spot for campers (boats from 0800-1700, return 0915-1715, US$4.50, T441716; Don Quico, also does fishing trips, T448945). On Isla de Lobos, which is a government reserve within sight of the town, there is a huge sea-lion colony; excursions, US$30. Ticket should be booked in advance (T441716).
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