Punta del Este has long been a glittering beach resort for visitors from Brazil and Argentina especially, as well as for a handful of Europeans. The rich and famous of Latin America flood here during the short summer season from December to February, and many think of it as a sort of Latino St Tropez. Further north at José Ignacio, the elegant luxury resorts give way to more laid-back boutique properties overlooking a lovely stretch of beach. It still offers lively nightlife during the season and a superb sleepy and laid-back vibe at other times. It is worth heading further north to La Paloma and to Cabo Polonio, a sleepy fishing village for most of the year that attracts staggering amounts of wildlife to its shores – from sealions to seals and penguins, as well as whales offshore.