Brava Beach (Playa Brava) has golden sands and surf-worthy waves, but the star attraction is Mario Irarrázabal’s La Mano (The Hand). Punta del Este’s best-known landmark, the gigantic sculpture of a hand reaching up out of the sand—los Dedos means “the fingers”—is meant to symbolise a drowning swimmer and warn of the beach’s notorious waves.
Most Playa Brava visitors make a beeline for La Mano, which is found at Parada 4, and a photo stop at the sculpture is often included on city tours of Punta del Este. The beach itself is also a great spot for surfing and water sports, and there are a number of outlets where you can rent stand-up paddleboards or bodyboards.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The waves can be strong at Brava Beach, so swim only in designated areas and at times when the lifeguards are on patrol.
- There are a number of beach bars, restaurants, and kiosks along the beach, and sun loungers and parasols are available to rent.
- Playa Brava is a popular place to learn to surf, and there are several surf schools along the beachfront.
How to Get There
Brava Beach is located on the Atlantic Coast of Punta del Este, Uruguay, and can be reached on foot or by a short taxi ride from the town center. The Los Dedos sculpture is located at Parada 4, at the far western end of the beach, about a 5-minute walk from Punta del Este’s bus and ferry terminals. Buses run up and down the beachfront regularly.
When to Get There
The most popular time for swimming and water sports is during the summer months (mid-December to mid-March), when lifeguards patrol the beach. It’s no secret that sunset is an atmospheric time to visit, so for the rare, crowd-free photo, it’s best to make an early start and get there for sunrise.
Beaches of Punta del Este
Punta del Este’s second main beach, Playa Mansa, runs along the Rio de la Plata coast, offering gentle waves more suitable for swimming and activities including snorkeling and Jet Skiing in summer. East of Playa Brava in La Barra is Bikini Beach, lined with beach bars and nightclubs and best known for its nightlife. Farther up the coast, the beach town of José Ignacio also has miles of sandy beaches with great surf.