Vogue.com | Secret Beaches and Private Islands: A Guide to José Ignacio, Uruguay
Beginning in November and running through February, Uruguay’s José Ignacio transforms from a sleepy fishing village into a buzzing haven for surfers and international jet-setters swapping their winters for South America’s summer season. It’s a lively and social scene indeed, but for those seeking a quieter, mellow respite from the stresses of urban life, it’s still very possible to enjoy this popular coastal destination while keeping a low profile. From a secret beach club on a secluded island to a yoga studio with massage therapy on the menu, here are some ways to relish in José Ignacio’s more laid-back offerings.
Stay: Bahia Vik Flanked by two beaches on either side, José Ignacio is a tip of land that pokes out into the ocean. Brava Beach, known for its tremendous waves and ideal surfing conditions, makes it a popular destination for beachgoers. Just a five-minute walk across the peninsula is Mansa Beach, Brava’s sleepy, less raucous counterpart—and the better side for sunset views. Visitors seeking anonymity and a more intimate hotel experience away from the madding crowd will find sanctuary at two-year-old Bahia Vik. Comprising a main guesthouse and 11 private bungalows overlooking Mansa Beach, each dwelling is uniquely designed, both inside and out, using different materials such as wood, steel, and black zinc.
Around sunset, most guests flock to the hotel’s restaurant, La Susana, a breezy, cabana-style setup situated just off to the side of the property, where locals and visitors come together over fresh ceviche and the spectacular vistas.
Relax: The Shack Yoga Locals, expats, and in-the-know visitors drop by this airy, beautifully soothing yoga studio for its popular open-level Vinyasa-style classes (Hamptons regulars may already be familiar with its Bridgehampton location). For an even more relaxing take on bodywork, make an appointment for a deep-tissue or Shiatsu massage, or perhaps a Reiki treatment.
Eat: El Mostrador de Santa Teresita This stylish breakfast and lunch counter offering delicious and wholesome seasonal salads and daily seafood specials has a tendency to fill up during afternoon hours, but its off-beach location inherently lends a quieter, more laid-back feel. Corner of Las Garzas and Las Calandrias, José Ignacio, Maldonado, Uruguay
Eat: Parador La Caracola An afternoon-turned-evening at this remote beach club situated on a petite island is one of José Ignacio’s more special and exclusive experiences: The exact address is emailed after reservations are booked, and transportation involves taking a private boat (provided by your hosts). Once you’ve arrived, relax with a glass of the signature white wine sangria and a fantastic spread of tapas, salads, and grilled fish and enjoy feeling like you’re thousands of miles from civilization.
Eat: Namm Commonly known as the “tree house,” this Asian-influenced restaurant serves up fresh sashimi and sushi alongside traditional Uruguayan meats and seafood dishes, and is tucked away in a forest on the edge of town—and unless you’ve been there before, don’t be surprised if you get lost trying to locate it. The rustic open-air bamboo and teak dining room, with its hanging lanterns and flickering glow of candlelight, really does feel like an aloft hideaway (and you’ll be thankful it’s not an easy spot for crowds to find). Ruta 10 at approximately kilometer 185, José Igancio, Maldonado, Uruguay
Eat: Marismo Not too far from Namm is this restaurant, beloved among chic locals and those in the know. At Marismo, a secluded candlit setting, you’ll dine alfresco in the most literal sense: There’s nothing but the moon and stars overhead and the sand beneath one’s feet. Chefs cook everything—meat, seafood, vegetables—on wood-fire grills in the style of a traditional South American asado, while guests meander between tables and the scattered campfires. Ruta 10 at approximately kilometer 185, José Igancio, Maldonado, Uruguay
Take a Ride: Horseback Riding at Estancia Vik You don’t have to be a guest at Estancia Vik, a sprawling property under the same ownership as Bahia Vik, to relish in its breathtaking views on horseback. Just a 10-minute drive inland transports you from the beach to a magnificent ranch house surrounded by fields and mountains, with gauchos waiting at the stable to lead you on a ride. (Vogue.com)