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Welcome to Meandering Mondays, where we provide brief reviews of naturist places we have visited, simply to offer our admittedly subjective thoughts about what we experienced there. With over 150 pins on our naturist travel map, we have a lot of reviews to catch up on. Once posted here, I’ll move them over to the “Places” index under the main menu of our blog.
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This week: Hotel Naturista El Refugio, near Punta del Este, Uraguay
Having visited both Argentina and Brazil several years ago, we were quite surprised to learn we had missed this gem of a beach, Playa Chihuahua, located near the small tourist town of Punto del Este, Uruguay. In fact, we would rate it as one of the most beautiful nude beaches we’ve found outside of Europe. Hosts at Refugio El Nudista, Marcela and Ricardo could not have been more welcoming, speaking enough English to cater to our whims, even providing gluten free bread options for breakfast. Their sweet little inn is perhaps a ten minute walk from the beach, during which you can simply wrap in a pareo to and from. We stayed in the annex, which featured several simple self-catering apartments (including a small enclosed terrace) which was perfect for our needs. Depending on the tide, you can walk at least a mile or two down the beach, parts of which sees textiles and naturists mingling without a fuss, and beyond that, you may well have the beach completely to yourself. Of course, mid-winter in North America is mid-summer in Uruguay. During our stay, the days were warm and sunny with low humidity. Perfection. To date, this has been our favorite destination in South America. This is really a five-star review, but simply noting that it’s a simple, humble accommodation, which is why we only noted four stars.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THERE? At least from where we live, what El Refugio is not so easy to get to, but on the other hand, totally worth the effort. We chose to fly from EWR to Buenos Aires, but this requires changing from the international airport (EZE) to the domestic airport near downtown (AEP). Just to play it safe, we spent the first night in Buenos Aires to position ourselves for an early morning flight to Uruguay, where we rented a car. You can fly in to Montevideo, or Punta del Este, the latter of which is literally a ten-minute drive from the beach and hotel. (Montevideo is about 90 minutes away.) We ventured out to find dinner one evening in Montevideo, only to find that options were few and even parking the car felt sketchy. Conversely, we took a day heading the other direction to go wine-tasting and had a fabulous day in the countryside. Punte del Este’s airport is tiny, with only a few flights a day, but it was worth the extra money, and most definitely worth renting a car.
WHAT’S THE FAMILY VIBE? I don’t know if El Refugio has a policy regarding children, but I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be welcomed, especially in the apartments, though I don’t know if there are rooms with more than one bed. We saw a few families with children on the beach, and I wouldn’t hesitate taking my own kids there (even if they were still little kids). It was a very chill crowd, and the gentle sloping beach is perfect for playing in the surf
HOW ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS? I think I read that if you stay in the main inn, you need to purchase the option with full board, but since we were in the annex, we had the simple amenities necessary to prepare our own meals, which is very much our preference while traveling – though we did join the Saturday night BBQ hosted by Richard and Marcela where we met a very nice Bolivian couple that was willing to converse with us in English. The meal was an absolute feast, with several different options on the grill and lots of veggies. It’s a “don’t miss” event if your timing allows for it.
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW? If you’re making the Argentina airport change connection, as we did, make sure you allow more than enough time to get though immigration – on arrival and departure – and across town by Uber or taxi, as traffic is frequently at a dead stop in Buenos Aires. (You should allow six hours minimum!) Or do like we did and book an inexpensive hotel in Buenos Aires and go out for a nice meal. On the return, we were able to make the transfer all in one day, since our return flight from EZE was a red-eye. While there, we learned that Uruguay has one of the strongest economies in South America, and thus, crime-rates are low, especially outside of the city. We can hardly wait to get back!