This past New Year’s Eve, I spent two days and nights along the Atlantic coast in Argentina, in a beach town called Villa Gesell. Many visit the nearby city of Mar del Plata, but after doing research we were attracted to the supposed quieter, more nature-like Villa Gesell as opposed to the built-up glam of Mar del Plata.
After taking the 5 hour surprisingly comfortable (and of course cheap) bus trip via Plusmar, we arrived at our hostel, Residencial Viya. A cute array of guest rooms with a beautiful courtyard of gardens in the middle, the rooms are small but clean and the owners are extremely kind and accommodating with several adorable dogs running around.
The main area of town is along Ave. 3, which is where all of the shops, many arcades for kids, and restaurants can be found (or on side streets off of Ave. 3). Notably, there are very few non-Argentinian tourists, which is really nice.
Ave. 1 is there the main entrance to the beach is. The best part of the beach day is directly midday at this time of year, after about 2 pm it gets cloudy and windy. Otherwise, we looked out with weather around 80 for that midday window which is perfect beach weather.
the windy part of day- note the grey ocean
and the sunny time of day!
and just an hour later it is windy again! my travel buddies from left Taylor, Meghan our host, and me
Beach activities include surfing lessons, although it didn’t seem like many people were partaking…many people play soccer on the beach. In our area I didn’t see boat rentals or anything like that. Also, according to Lonely Planet there are horseback riding expeditions or jeep treks, both of which I would be interested in but didn’t see. This makes me wonder if there are other areas of Villa Gesell, where more of the hotels and starting to be built up areas are…but I don’t think so.
New Year’s Eve was an interesting experience, teaching us about how Argentinians spend the holiday. The city was extremely quiet until about 10:30, around which some of the restaurants were filled, though all were serving a prix fixe special menu and many required reservations. However, Meghan explained that most people would be spending the evening at home with their families, until maybe 12:30 or 1. We had heard that at 12 there would be fireworks on the beach, so we went there. What a surprise we had when we discovered that fireworks is not the way we generally imagine it, with professionals putting it on, but actually a free for all with everyone bringing their own fireworks and setting them off. Really cool, but also kind of scary as they were going off at all directions around us, including directly into utility wires. But it was so fun to know how freezing cold we would be if we were celebrating at home, but instead we were on the beach in summer!
the scene on the beach
a moment to remember
All in all, Villa Gesell is a great escape from Buenos Aires, and I imagine even better as summer proceeds and it gets even warmer. If you are looking for a lot to do and pristine beaches, this is not for you. But if you are looking to see how many Argentinians spend their holidays, and for a a laid back and friendly atmosphere, definitely visit this beach town!