GALLERY: Welcome to Uruguay

Jason Lock

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Updated 12d ago

Back in the late 50s, Omar 'Vispo' Rossi waded into the shallows of Uruguay's Praia de Pocitos, one of the most exposed beaches in the country's capital city of Montevideo. Tailing a homemade board behind him, Rossi stroked into what is believed to be the first wave surfed in that slice of South America.

Despite there being more than 80 breaks scattered across Uruguay's 200km Atlantic coastline, it's still a relatively unknown surfing destination. Think of the untapped pointbreaks, those seldom crowded rivermouths, even big wave spots when the swell switches to overdrive.

Just some of the spots known in Uruguay. Go HERE for full deets.

Just some of the spots known in Uruguay. Go HERE for full deets.

It's certainly a locale that won't be on everyone's bucket list – the points, while few and far between, can be semi-consistent. At least it's clean and relatively safe, just avoid those mosquitoes...

Anyway, it was local lensman Juan Pablo Malcon, operating under the Insty tag of Swell Uruguay Photography (you can see, here) who's been training his eye on the setups of Uruguay for the past few years. So we decided to ask the man a few qs about his home country...

Hey Juan, thanks for having a chat with us. Tell us a bit about Uruguay, what makes it so special?
Well, Uruguay has 670 km of coastline, of which only 220 are on the Atlantic Ocean, the rest is on the Rio de la Plata.

Surfing in our country has grown notably in recent years. I think one of the most glorious moments that inspired the next gen of surfers was in 2012, when our surfer Luisma Iturria managed to become the Latin American champion.

Another great representative of our country is Marco Giorgi. Marco runs the QS and has put in very good performances at Pipeline, helping him stand out amongst surfing's elite.

So, what are the waves like? Beachbreaks, reefs? I know of a few rivermouths...
The waves in Uruguay are mostly beachbreaks and some pointbreaks but without much consistency.

The crowd is relative and depends on the conditions of the sandbars, if the banks are not good then many people will crowd a few beaches.

In summer (December to March) Uruguay get like, 1 million tourists, mostly from Argentina, it is a good time for those looking for parties and good weather.

With such surf inconsistencies, how did you get into photography?
My photography began with Andrea Ghuieti, a Uruguayan photographer who lived for many years in Costa Rica, and when she returned to the country, I met her and I wanted to buy a camera and capture the good moments that photography offers.

But I don't live off my photography, I am also a lifeguard and I'm studying carpentry.

What can people expect if they travel to Uruguay?
For those who want to know Uruguay, they will see natural country of friendly people, good food (lots of meat in the menu) and easy access between major cities.

If the idea is to come to surf you should know that it is not a country of constant waves, the best time is in the autumn winter months (March to September) but the water temperature stays between 13 and 18 degrees.

The best spots are on the coast of Maldonado and Rocha. Everyone should take some time and get to know our country.