Cabo Polonio´s coast is famous for it´s huge sand dunes and miles of lovely ocean beaches.
A large colony of Sea Lions and Fur Seals breed on offshore islands, with hundred on the Cape rocks for part of the year.
Cabo Polonio has no roads leading to it and is located about 7 kilometers from the main highway, it is accessible walking through the dunes, by horseback ride or by authorized 4x4 vehicles.
The town has no electricity or running water for the few hundred houses, limited electricity is derived from generators, solar and wind power, and residents obtain water from nearby water wells or collecting rain water.
In 2009 the region was declared a National Park, under the protective jurisdiction of Uruguay´s SNAP program.
Despite a growning influx of tourists, Cabo Polonio remains one of Uruguay´s most roustic coastal villages. The resident population is about 80 persons, mostly fishermen´s families.
Cabo Polonio`s striking lighthouse provides a fabolous perspective on the point, the sea-lion colony, and the sorrounding dunes and islands.
Cabo Polonio National Park area comprises a remarkable complex of ecosystems with high biological diversity and very rich wildlife, as well as the cultural values associeted with them.
The coastal landscape presents natural woods, dunes, lonely beaches, rocky points, islands and the Atlantic Ocean.
Is one of the area´s few mobile sand dunes, in which the sand is blown by the wind and moves around the sandy places, and dunes actually change their position.
Two pinniped species breed in Uruguay including the South American Fur Seal (Arctocephalus australis) and the South American Sea Lion (Otaria flavescens) There are colonies of both species at the three islands in front of Cabo Polonio´s coast, Rasa, Encantada and Islote, and at the Marco´s Island in front of Buena Vista hill´s coast. It is a Nature Reserve included in the Coastal Islands National Park.
Cabo Polonio is a haul-out for mostly male South American Fur Seals (a maximum of 2000 individuals) and occasional Southern Sea Lions.
The coast also provides resting areas during the migration period of Subantartic Furs Seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis) and the Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina).
Cetaceans are found in the area, including bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), the Plata Dolphin or Franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei) and the Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) between July and November.
Three endangered species of sea turtles, including the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), inhabit Uruguayan coastal waters.
Uruguay is also home to three species of penguins: the King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus), the Southern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome), and the Magallanes Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus). The Magellanic Penguin lives along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America. The eastern population breeds in large colonies in Argentina and migrates north, as far as Uruguay and Southwest Brazil, between March and September.
It´s habitat of "The Darwin´s Toad" (Melanophryniscus montevidensis), an endemic species mention by Charles Darwin during the Beagle´s expedition in the year of 1833. It´s a diurnal little toad inhabiting coastal sand dunes and rocky points. It is an explosive breeder, and may be found in large numbers in temporary pools after heavy rains; the larvae develop in these pools. It`s no tolerant of habitat disturbance.
Sites of prehistoric archeological interest also exist as a patrimonial value, the founded pieces are about 5000 years before the present, and belonged to the american native Arachanes, Guenoas and Constructores de Cerritos tribes.
In the year 1750 Madrid´s Trade between the Spanish and the Portuguese Impires for the South America continent domination, marked the southest frontiere on the Marco´s Island in front of the Buena Vista hill locatted 6 kilometres from Polonio´s cape.
On Janaury 31, 1753, Joseph Polloni commanded the Spanish galleon called "Nuestra Señora del Rosario" coming from Cadiz (Spain). Due to a navigation mistake, it ran aground in the rocky area of the cape, so far without a name. The victimless accident caused the place to be baptized with the name Polonio because of the captain´s last name Polloni.
Since it was an area of difficult navigation, the repeated shipwrecks made it necessary to set up a lighthouse in the year 1881. Later the uruguayan state opened a factory for fur seals explotation - slaughtery and fishing - and from then on, a small stable settlement was created.
As the years went by, the region aquired a preservation spirit which is evident today: fur seals were protected and the slaughter was totally abandoned. As a consequence, the fauna population has multiplied just like in the beginning.
Since the 1940´s decade there are families living on artisanal fishing of sharks and some other fishes served on local seafood restaurants.
Artisanal fishing is a small-scale, low technology, commercial and subsistence fishing practice, using traditional techniques such as, throw nets, bottom long line, and traditional fishing boats.
It contrasts with large-scale modern commercial fishing practices in that it is less intensive and less stressful on fish populations than modern industrial fishing.
The fishermen´s women offer different and unique art craft, using shark´s vertebras and wonderfull sea shells collected on the beach shore.
The village also lures craftsmen, ecologists, artists, writers and lovers of solitude, among others, to visit and stay in this place.