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Playa Pocitos – Montevideo, Uruguay

It's not easy being Uruguay. Roughly the size of Missouri and tucked between geographical and cultural giants Argentina and Brazil, South America's second smallest nation often gets overlooked. Though the swanky beach resort of Punta del Este is beginning to attract the attention of in-the-know jetsetters, most travelers have yet to catch on to the charms of the capital city of Montevideo, a three-hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires. This city of just over one million boasts an expanse of white sand beaches along the Río de la Plata, connected for 14 miles by a waterfront promenade known as La Rambla. At the eastern end of the path, you'll hit the city's most accessible beach, Playa Pocitos, which was one of the first seaside beach resorts in all of South America, dating back to the 19th century. Nowadays, lined by apartment buildings and palm trees, this urban beach is a buzzing social hub, where locals come together to play volleyball and beach soccer.

(Credit: Flickr / Berenice Decados)
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