Uruguay may not be a well known kiteboarding destination but its expansive coastline is home to some world class spots - and Laguna Garzon is just that. A huge sheltered lagoon with acres of flat water on one side of the sand bar and the playful waves of the South Atlantic on the other, Laguna Garzon is an absolute gem. Whatever your level – visit now before all your mates find out about it!
Laguna Garzon is a coastal lagoon; a massive flat water expanse that also has easy access to the open ocean. The lagoon takes any wind direction, making it an ideal playground for all levels of kiter, from the humble beginner needing buttery flat water to perfect their waterstarts, to the advanced rider wanting to push their tricks or head into the waves.
Head out of the lagoon and just a few metres over the sandbar you’ll be faced with an entirely different spot with miles of uncrowded sandy beach, plenty of room to launch and land a kite and, perhaps more importantly, waves. The swell doesn’t tend to get big most of the time but the beach break conditions are pretty reliable and usually fun. Endless, sandy beaches make launching easy in predominantly side-onshore winds, ideal for downwind excursions and all the highways are in excellent condition for the journey back.
This area doesn’t yet draw a huge crowd, but at weekends during the peak summer season (January) it can get a little more crowded than usual with both windsurfers and kiters as well as students from Escuela de Kite y Windsurf Laura, the local kite school. The wind is steady, usually building in the afternoons, so the mornings are lazy and good for a relaxing holiday.
WIND, WEATHER AND WATER
In the high season (October through to March, peaking in January), the wind blows a steady 15 to 25 knots up to five days a week. Expect to ride anything from a seven to 12 metre and all types of board on flat water, choppy ramps and waves.
In the morning, soft winds blow, which are ideal for beginners, then from midday onwards the wind swings to a stronger 15 – 25 knot north-easterly, with some days over 30 knots. These are ideal conditions to ride in the sea, amongst the endless soft waves with side-on winds. From April to September the days are usually sunny, with cooler winds from the south and south-east, ranging from 12 to 20 knots.
It’s boardshort / bikini weather in the summer (or a thin wetsuit if you’re wanting to be out all day), while in the winter you’ll want a thick wetsuit and warm layers in the evenings. The average air temperature from December to March is 24°C / 75°F and from May to September it sits around 10°C / 50°F.
LAURA’S KITE AND WINDSURF SCHOOL was founded over 30 years ago, is the only IKO accredited school in the area. They run lessons for all levels from October through April. There is an equipment shop onsite with new and used gear, rentals, storage and a rescue boat is onhand at all times. Other activities include kitefoiling, wing-surfing, SUP, Hobie Cat sailing and more.
Accommodation is varied, ranging from hostels to five-star hotels and private rental homes. The best areas to stay are La Juanita, Arenas and José Ignacio. You can stay at the Garzon lagoon, but options are more limited. Once again, it’s worth hiring a car so you can venture out.
Hale Lau B&B belongs to the owner of Laura’s kite school, so is reasonably priced. They’ll organise transportation and food for you and discounted rates at the kite school for lessons or gear rental and will keep you updated on the conditions. Room prices start at $40 per night.
The nearest village is Jose Ignacio (seven kilometres away) and the nearest town is Punta del Este (45 kilometres away). Jose Ignacio has supermarkets and is accessible by taxi or bus though public transport is limited, so it’s preferable to have a hire car. The restaurant food on offer is of a wide variety, including local, international and vegan cuisine.
Punta del Este is a bigger town with vibrant nightlife and a multitude of bars and clubs 30 kilometres away, which prides itself on being one of the most glamorous seaside resorts in South America (so make sure you’ve got something a little smarter than boardshorts and flip-flops to change into).
Windless days involve local exploration of the neighbouring towns mentioned above, but if you’re keen to stay on the water, there’s SUPing, surfing, canoe or kayak rental, or you could take a diving excursion on the seaward side of the sandbar. There’s a lot of wildlife to appreciate and between June and October Southern Right Whales breed close to these shores. As light pollution is low, entire swathes of the Milky Way are visible at night. Horseback riding through streams and along the beaches is popular, as is mountain biking, trekking in the local nature reserves and sampling the excellent local cuisine and wines in nearby Jose Ignacio, where there are also concerts, art galleries and museums. Last, but by no means least, one of the most popular no wind activities is tango dancing. The tango is of high cultural value to the locals... and a real asset to your skill library if you join a class and come back from your hols sporting a few new moves!
Although beautiful, Laguna Garzon is quite secluded but isn’t isolated. The nearest village of Jose Ignacio is only seven kilometres away and easily accessible by bus or taxi with supermarkets, restaurants, art galleries and even a museum on offer, should you want to check out somewhere new. If you’re staying at Laguna Garzon, it could be a good idea to hire a car if you want to venture a little further afield.
Uruguyan Peso (UYU) - £1 = UYU38 / €1 = UYU28 / US$1 = UYU25.
Dollars and Euros are easily exchanged.
FOOD AND DRINK
In Jose Ignacio there’s a wide variety of restaurants serving an array of local and international dishes and there are some quiet but ambient bars as well. Punta del Este, a bigger town, is 30 kilometres away with vibrant nightlife and a multitude of bars and clubs.
It prides itself on being one of the most glamorous seaside resorts in America (so make sure you’ve got something a little smarter than boardshorts and flip- flops to change into).
Punta del Este (PDP) is 50 kilometres and Montevideo (MVD) is 180 kilometres away. Buses run from both to Garzon Lagoon, but car rental from the airport is also an option.
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