Matt and Erica Chua: Where South Americans Vacation

South America is full of beach towns, deciding which ones to visit is the hard part.  As we traveled we took our cues from the locals as to where to visit. The same way New Yorkers have the Hamptons, South Americans have their established get aways where the main past time is relaxing.  These towns are the perfect vacation spot for travelers as well.  There are many hotels and restaurants to choose from as well as plenty of entertainment options.  While there are hundreds of different places where the locals flock, I have highlighted three popular spots.

Cartagena, Colombia

The colonial town of Cartagena offers something for everyone with a beautiful old town, a booming downtown and a long stretch of sandy beach in between.  The colorful architecture and the cobblestone streets of the old town are a photographers paradise.  The street cafes and boutique shops offer plenty of distractions as you stroll.  The wide variety of places to stay, eat and grab a drink could keep you busy for a long time and the ocean views are stunning.  It’s easy to relax and take in this charming city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, the beach is inviting and the downtown offers modern amenities and swanky restaurants.  We loved spending time in Cartagena after spending so much time in bustling Medellin, it was the perfect get-away from big city life.

Puerto Varas, Chile

Puerto Varas is a small German town in Chile with beautiful vistas, and the kind of small town charm that can easily make you fall in love.  The entire town is walkable and the beach area offers swimming as well as canoe and kayak rental.  There are plenty of small cafes, ice cream shops and candy stores to make your stay even sweeter.  Chileans come for the five star hotels and high end casino, but we found the bed and breakfast inns to be charming and comfortable.  While there isn’t a lot to do in Puerto Varas it’s the perfect place to unwind and relax.

Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este a resort town on the Atlantic Coast of Uruguay offers miles of sandy beach to work on your tan or nap under an umbrella.  An easy escape from Montevideo it attracts locals and tourists.  We just visited for the day, but enjoyed the lively waterfront area and got a glimpse of the wild night life.  The destination of choice for Argentinians, the beaches are often crowded, but  the people watching is excellent.  If your looking for a break from surf and sand, you can saddle up with a local gaucho and ride horseback through the wild plains surrounding the city.  It’s a great place to relax and the surrounding area is perfect for exploring.

As many long term travelers will tell you, life on the road isn’t a vacation.  That’s why we enjoyed our time relaxing in Cartagena, Puerto Varas and Punta del Este.  We got a break from the sight seeing and just soaked up the sun, logging some beach time.  While there are plenty other great spots to take a breather throughout South America we enjoyed our time in each of these places to recharge.  When you need a break it’s fun to vacation with the locals and soak up some sun and local flavor.

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