Confession: I hadn't heard of Punta del Este prior to this trip. I soon learned how big time it is: rich Latin Americans, rich Europeans, rich Americans all descend on the Punta del Este beaches in the summer (January/February). It's the place to be seen.
In winter (right now), it's empty, but stil beautiful. Adrian and I drove there from Montevideo (two hours). We ate overlooking the water. Stunning views.
We spent the night in a neighboring ghost town (crazy expensive and packed three months of the year, empty the other nine months) at the one hotel that was actually open. The lady working the hotel was very motherly and sweet and Spanish-speaking only.
The following morning I went for an early morning run on dirt roads and along the beach. Quite lovely and tranquil.
Take away on the east coast: extremely seasonal (probably more so than the Jersey shore for example), beautiful, and much more real estate development yet to come.