I have to say, Puerto Pirámides may be one of the best-kept secrets along Argentina’s coastal Patagonia! When Sam and I were first planning our trip to Península Valdés, we thought we’d have to base ourselves in the nearby port city of Puerto Madryn; it hadn’t occurred to us that staying on the peninsula was even possible or that there was a beach town with so much to offer.
Puerto Pirámides is the only town in Península Valdés and it has a population of just over 700, though for a few months of the year, the whale population far exceeds the number of inhabitants on land! Its laid-back beachy vibe reminded me a lot of Bolivia’s Copacabana and it proved to be the perfect place to hike, enjoy some beach time, and explore the peninsula.
In case you need any more convincing, here are 10 reasons why you should visit Puerto Pirámides for more than a day trip!
Catch the sunrise over the ocean
If you’re an early riser, you’re in luck because the sun puts on a beautiful show over Puerto Pirámides.
We set our alarms bright and early to watch the magic unfold, and because our hotel was right on the beach, we basically rolled out of bed, walked down to the shore, and watched as the sky was painted shades of pink, lavender and periwinkle.
Once the pastel colours began to fade, we followed the coastline towards the east cliff. It was an easy 15-minute hike to the top and we were rewarded with views of the whole town. Sam and I sat at the top watching as the sun cast its warm glow over the landscape.
What we found most amusing is that there was a group who had camped out on the beach and they were still revelling and playing Manu Chau on the guitar. We were just starting our day and they were still going from the previous night – they crawled into their tents shortly after sunrise. Oh, to be on Argentine time!
Stroll along Avenida de las Ballenas
Avenida de las Ballenas, which literally translates to Avenue of the Whales, is the main street in Puerto Pirámides. It’s lined with brightly-painted shops, restaurants, cafes, as well as some colourful murals, so it’s worth a stroll while you’re in town.
The bright colours were giving me some serious Caribbean island vibes! The only thing to keep in mind that a lot of the businesses along here shut down during siesta time.
Hike out to Mirador Lobería
The ‘lobería’ is a colony of sea lions located not too far from Puerto Pirámides. There’s a small dirt trail that breaks away from the west end of town and eventually joins up with a dirt road (it’s labelled ‘Acceso a Lobería’ on GoogleMaps).
It’s a 4-kilometre hike each way and it involves a few steep inclines so consider yourself warned. We were pleasantly surprised to come across maras and lots of crested tinamous along the way.
Once we reached the lobería, we could hear the sea lions before we could even see them. It amazes me that sometimes they can sound like sheep and other times they sound like baby dinosaurs – quite the vocal range!
We followed the path down the hill where there were two viewing platforms. Here we saw sea lions swimming in the crystalline waters, others sunbathing, and countless pups practising their swimming skills in the small pools of water. One of the perks of visiting in February is that you get to see all the newborn pups playing around!
It was about a 1 hour hike from the town so don’t forget sunblock, a hat, and lots of water to get you there and back. If you happen to do this hike during the summer months, you may also want to consider going in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the extreme heat.
Go on a boat tour
Another thing to do in Puerto Pirámides is to go on a boat tour. Even though we had already hiked to Mirador Lobería in Punta Pirámides, we decided to hop on a zodiac-type raft and go see the sea lions once more. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water, and the 1 1/2 hour excursion was the perfect length.
The sea lions were being their sleepy selves on the rocky outcrops, and we also encountered a surprising amount of sea birds – especially cormorants which are easy to confuse with penguins from a distance!
Whale-watching tours are another very popular option if you’re here at the right time of year (June to December). It’s good to know that with the whale-watching tours, the law dictates that outfitters may not chase the whales, and they must cut their motors within 100 metres of them.
Splash into some water activities
Where do I even begin? There are so many different water sports that you can enjoy in Puerto Pirámides ranging from stand up paddle boarding and jet-skiing to kayaking and boating. Take your pick!
With most of these water activities, you can just walk down to the beach and book it directly on the spot. Just don’t wait until too late in the afternoon because businesses begin packing up everything just before sunset.
Enjoy some beach time
I can’t talk about a beach town and not mention going to the beach! This is one of the main draws to Puerto Pirámides, and the waters are surprisingly nice for the Atlantic Ocean – still cool and refreshing, but not icy cold like in some other places down the coast.
The waters are also fairly shallow, so you can walk out quite a ways from the shore and still not be in very deep.
The beach fills up with families, pets and friends by mid-morning, with most beach-goers working on their tan and lingering past sunset. Chair and umbrellas can be rented right on the beach.
Stay at an eco-hotel on the beach
During our stay in Puerto Pirámides, we stayed at Océano Patagonia. This is a beachside eco-condo with rooms that open directly onto the beach. You seriously can’t beat the location!
The rooms are a mix of modern meets rustic with floor to ceilings windows, recycled wood furnishings, and an off-white colour palette that makes the place feel bright and airy. They heat and cool the place using a geothermal system, they have solar panels to meet part of their electric needs, and also recycle water since they are in a desert climate.
Our room was perfect for a self-catered holiday. We had two heating elements, an electric kettle, a coffee maker, plus they also left us a fridge stocked with breakfast items like orange juice, milk, butter, cream cheese, jam, dulce de leche, fruits, and a fresh loaf of artisanal bread delivered fresh every morning.
Our favourite part was the resident cat who would nap in the lobby and sometimes come by visits on the outdoor terrace.
Eat delicious seafood at La Covacha
Now let’s talk about the food!
You seriously can’t go wrong ordering their giant ravioli stuffed with shrimp in a buttery mussel sauce with calamari a la provencal! There were even some scallops in there with their shells, which just added to the overall presentation.
I also ogled over at more than one seafood platter making its way to neighbouring tables – there were just so many delicious items on their menu!
We arrived at noon and by the time we left this restaurant, there wasn’t a single table available.
See fossils up close and personal
Another reason to visit Puerto Pirámides is to feel like a real life Indiana Jones. This whole area is made up of old ocean floor, and that means lots of clay and countless marine fossils that take you millions of years back in time. There are so many of them that there’s no stepping around them or avoiding them! Just remember that removing any fossils from Península Valdés is strictly prohibited. Enjoy them on your walks and snap some photos, but they stay where they belong.
Explore the rest of the peninsula
Last but not least, one major reason to visit Puerto Pirámides is that you can use this as your base to explore Península Valdés!
Day trips departing from Puerto Madryn involve driving 400kms in one day – half of that on gravel roads! – but if you choose to base yourself in Puerto Pirámides, you can cut down some of that travel time and use it to explore all the sights and attractions around the peninsula. Some places to consider include Punta Norte and Estancia San Lorenzo on the north end of the peninsula, and Punta Delgada on the south side.
Taking tours is still very much possible; most tours departing from Puerto Madryn will also swing through Puerto Pirámides to pick up passengers, so there really are no excuses! Now here’s a vlog of our day in town.