Like any good trip, planning was the first step. We were going to be driving, so I needed to know what I was in for. I found out the Villa Gesell and Pinamar beaches were about a 5 hour drive. Keep this statistic in mind when you hear that more than half of Argentines live in Buenos Aires. (Yes, five hours away is still Buenos Aires province; the provinces are essentially like the U.S. states.) The route is one of the nation's best for road trips, with a well paved four lane highway that even has gas stations, rest stops and a few restaurants along the way. Part of the way is even downright scenic.
The dirt parking lot was filled with more than 50 cars when I went, the line for medialunas was out the door, and the line for the bathroom wasn't much shorted. Inside, the small dining room can only accommodate a tiny fraction of the travelers; the majority of people take their snacks outside eating off the tailgate, hood or roof of their cars. There is also an adjoining mini mart and gas station to satisfy accompanying needs.
iló, Villa Gesell, Pinamar and Mar de Plata, each of which offers a unique experience.
Driving from CABA, Cariló is the first beach you reach. The entrance is one of three exits from rotary, and is marked by a wooden gateway which make it look more like a summer camp than an exclusive resort town. Essentially, it's a hybrid of an upscale development and tourist village. After passing the entrance, which is monitored by police, you drive a while on dirt roads through the forest until structures begin to appear. The town is made up of luxury homes scattered on relatively spacious lots throughout the woods. Many homes are wood and are built in the Dutch style that is common to many areas of Argentina, however there is also quite a bit of variety including ranch and modern homes.
Downtown Cariló is centered around the Paseo Epuyen shopping center, with shops offering Argentina's finest brands, plus tons of imported brands. Even the local supermarket has far more imports than your average Disco. There are also many independently owned restaurants offering a variety of cuisines from hot dogs to fine dining.
iló has lots of open space, and the clientele are mostly families and couples. There's no party scene, not a stereo or beer (except ours) in sight when we were there. The only disruption is the occasional four wheeler riding the dunes behind the beach. There's also a beach club where you can take the exclusivity up a notch by renting cabanas.
If you haven't been to South American beaches before, one of the greatest things they offer are traveling salesmen. People walk up and down the beach selling a variety of products. The best part is, in general, they don't approach you and creep you out like their counterparts in some other countries. They just walk around shouting out what they have, and if you want it you give them a wave. The usual spread in Argentina is cold drinks, ice cream, fruit salad, milanesa sandwiches, corn on the cob, chipa, churros, jewelery, sunglasses, bohemian clothing and bikinis.
One final attraction in Villa Gesell, and the instigator of the entire trip is a club called Pueblo Limite. It's a huge facility on the outskirts of downtown known for hosting international performers and huge parties. Like any good beach club there's a huge main dance floor, impressive light show, mix of indoor and outdoor space and several bars. On Sunday January 16, it hosted David Guetta, to what I suspect was an exceeding-fire-code packed house.