Playa de La Costanera, Asunción’s Scenic Beach

Playa de La Costanera, Asunción

photography by: Omri Westmark

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If it looks like a beach, feels like a beach, and is glutted with sand like a beach, then it probably is a beach, right? Well, sort of. As Paraguay is and always has been a landlocked country, its only bodies of water are lakes and rivers. Since the country’s capital, Asunción, is nestled along the mighty Paraguay River, its riverfront is sometimes akin to a typical-looking beach, particularly Playa de La Costanera, the city’s main beach which offers a plethora of recreational activities.

The only country in South America which never had a coastline, Paraguay is home to a series of mighty rivers that to large extent, define the nation’s borders, culture and economic power. Nevertheless, for the residents of Paraguay’s major cities, rivers are first and foremost a place for leisure, with some even boasting beach-like riverbanks.


Nestled along the Paraguay River, Asunción and its neighboring waterway are linked in countless ways, both historically and geographically, and yet, most of its waterfront is underdeveloped to date. That is, unless you are talking about Bahía de Asunción, a small bay that protrudes outwards, forming a tranquil lagoon next to the city center.


As it turns out, this small, unassuming bay is where the Spaniards allegedly first arrived to Paraguay as they explored the far reaches of the continent. It is also where Paraguayan warships anchored during the War of the Triple Alliance that nearly wiped out the country, as well as the landing point for thousands of European refugees fleeing World War II.


Alongside its historic merit, the bay is home to more than 200 species of birds that rest, hunt and nest in the nearby Banco San Miguel Ecological Reserve and as the title of this article implies, also a recreational beach.


Stretching along the southern part of the bay, Playa de La Costanera is Asunción’s sole beach and as such, serves as a citywide getaway for people from all walks of life, including residents of close-by informal settlements. The beach isn’t as sandy as its coastal counterparts in Brazil or Colombia, but it still has enough of it to make the place look and feel like the real thing.


As part of a large-scale infrastructure project to widen the adjacent Costanera Avenue in 2012, a brand-new esplanade was built along the beach. Besides the modern facilities for local sunbathers, the sleek promenade was embellished with a pilgrimage site for Instagrammers, a “I Love Asunción” Sign (or at least, a Spanish version of it). Visitors who find the popular sign as too touristy can always take photos in one of the riverfront’s wooden piers, where the background is purely pristine.