I’d never heard of Cabo Polonio until I met some new friends in Montevideo who told me all about it. It was described to me as “There is this crazy remote, off the grid community of hippies and fisherman called Cabo Polonio and not accessible by road”. I had to go.
Albeit, the best way to get there would be by renting a car, but there are other options by bus from Montevideo. I decided to first check out Punta Del Este, so I took a bus there, and then following that, I was off to Cabo Polonio.
There are two entrances to Cabo Polonio, the first being at the Puera Del Polonio (Park Entrance) in which there are regular buses and a boothed operator of whom you can buy one-way and two-way tickets from. Use the website link above for the most recent information on prices and schedule. You’ll pay around 218 Uruguayn pesos for a round trip (Roughly $12USD).
The better option is to hike the 6km over the sand dunes and into Cabo Polonio, but I’ll say that an even more interesting hike can be had from the second access point through Valizas which provides beautiful vistas over amazing sand dunes and is a mild 6 to 7km hike (I did it – more on that later – next blog post).
Arrive in Cabo Polonio during the off season and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding hostel accommodation or even private rooms. There are ample people waiting around the bus stop offering this accommodation. They can be pretty aggressive, so I’d recommend walking around the village and looking for Lobo Hostel if you are looking to meet the most amount of people during your stay and don’t mind really jam packed and uncomfortable dorms (it’s still worth it). Lobo Hostel is the hostel with the rainbow colors on the roof and the word “HOSTEL” in all caps. Can’t be hard to miss, although in the off season it will often fill up, so you may want to book it in advance if you are less risk adverse than I.
Expect that you’ll enjoy it so much that you’ll want to stay longer than anticipated. Unless you have a cell phone with a useful data plan (it’s 3G accessible), don’t expect internet or cell phone usage. Some accommodations will hook up WiFi for one hour per day, including at Lobo Hostel). Expect to meet awesome people. Bring your own food to cook. There are not always restaurants open to buy cooked food, but you will find one or two very small markets to buy some produce, pasta, cheese, and canned goods – bring cash.
Look to the sky in the evening on a clear night and you’ll see the most beautiful night sky you’ve probably every seen with a clear bright view of our milky way galaxy.
The lighthouse provides tremendous views of the area, there is a small colony of sea lions on the rocks, and beautiful off the grid houses throughout the landscape. During the off season there will be about 50 year long habitants, including a handful or two of visitors – good company!
Expect quiet nights, drinking various beverages around a camp fire, some guitar, marijuana and cannibis food items being offered to you in the evening and for breakfast, and a whole bunch of people who just want to relax and enjoy their time there. People will have some drinks, but it doesn’t get too out of control during the off season.
My experience was over the off-season (April to November), if you travel in the summer (January to February), the experience will be different. Prices will skyrocket, and the tiny refuge will explode into a 4,000 people and it’s definitely better to book ahead. As for me, I’m coming back to Cabo Polonio, but only in the off season. I’ll skip the over crowding.