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Travel in Latin America

Things to See in La Paloma, Uruguay
By:Matthew Huntington

La Paloma, Uruguay, is a seaside resort on the Atlantic Ocean with around 5,000 permanent residents. Approximately 150 miles from Montevideo, the town got its name, which means "the dove," from Spanish sailors who thought the area's coast looked like the silhouette of a bird. In 2011, La Paloma is a favorite spot for many surfers, who come to catch the large waves off Cape Santa Maria. The town is also home to interesting architectural and natural sights.

Cape Santa Maria Lighthouse
Cape Santa Maria Lighthouse, located at the end of Avenida Solari in La Paloma, was completed in 1874. An earlier attempt to build a lighthouse on the site failed when the structure collapsed during a storm, killing 17 French and Italian workers in the process. The workers were buried near the site. The white, octagonal lighthouse is more than 100 feet tall, and its light can be seen from 22 miles away. The complex is open to the public on summer evenings.

Laguna de Rocha
Laguna de Rocha (no website; no street address; located 10 miles southwest of La Paloma; 9926-9775) is a wetland ecological preserve classified as a protected landscape under Uruguay's National Protected Area System. The 40,000-acre reserve, which runs along Uruguay's Atlantic coast, is part of the Jose Ignacio, Garzon and Rocha Lagoons National Park. The area is a wintering site for 24 species of shorebirds, including black-necked swans, storks and spoonbills. Tours are conducted in Spanish.

The Organization for the Conservation of Whales (occ.org.uy) offers all-day whale-watching tours year-round, but the best time to see the whales is in October. The organization has a small museum in La Paloma, located in the median of Avenida Solari. Although the museum has no numbered address, it is not hard to find, as a giant whale skeleton is displayed in front of its exterior. Inside are exhibits explaining the organization's objective, which is to conserve the southern right whale.

NaturCiencia (no website; Ruta 15, kilometer 7.2 north of La Paloma; Rocha; 0479-9065), a kids' science museum based on San Francisco, California's Exploratorium, began with the owner's extensive collection of animal skulls. The complex has hands-on exhibits that include walk-in kaleidoscopes, trick mirrors and magnetic sand. Various rooms display more than 100 bird and mammal skulls classified by order. The museum also has a playground and a souvenir shop.

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