Lobos Island (Isla de Lobos)
Just off the coast of Punta del Este, at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, Lobos Island (Isla de Lobos) is home to one of the largest colonies of southern sea lions in the world—an estimated 200,000 inhabit its rocky shores. A protected nature reserve, the island can only be visited by guided tour.
A cruise to Lobos Island is a popular choice for a day trip from Punta del Este. Set sail around the island, stopping to watch the sea lions in their natural environment and perhaps even swim in one of the bays close to where the sea lions live. Afterwards, head ashore to stroll along the coast, admire the ocean views, and visit the historic Lobos Island Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in South America. Additional wildlife sightings around the island include southern fur seals, orcas, sea birds, and southern right whales.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Lobos Island is one of the most important wildlife destinations in Uruguay and a must for nature lovers.
- Boat tours from Punta del Este range from 2-hour cruises to half- or full-day tours.
- It can get chilly out at sea even in the summer months, so bring some warm clothing, as well as sunscreen and a hat.
- Some boat cruises are accessible for wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Lobos Island is located at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, about five miles (8 kilometers) south of Punta del Este. Boats set sail for the island from Punta del Este port and take about 40 minutes.
When to Get There
Most tours set out in the early morning, when wildlife tends to be at its most active. While the fur seals and sea lions can be spotted all year round, winter (June to Sept) is the best time to spot whales.
Day Trips from Punta del Este
As well as cruising out to Lobos Island, the nearby island of Gorriti makes a popular choice for a day trip, with scenic coastal hikes and sandy beaches. Further along the coast, pay a visit to the Casapueblo, the museum-residence of Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, which is renowned for its sunset ‘Ceremony of the Sun’. Alternatively, swap glamorous Punta del Este for laid-back José Ignacio, and spend a day exploring the beach town, with its many shops, art galleries, and beaches.