Travelled and Written by Jamie Edwards
Follow her at: iamlostandfound
Depending on when you go to José Ignacio, you could either find a sleepy fishing village or a crowded jet setter’s playground. Chances are, you will love José Ignacio either way as there is just so much to fall in love with. Well off the beaten path, and fantastically difficult to get to, José Ignacio combines some of our favorite things in one place; untouched beaches, casual but fabulous food, and a chill vibe. Lunch at the rustic beach shack Parador La Huella, a Jos é Ignacio see and be seen scene, starts at 2pm and runs into dinner.
Dirt roads with hand painted signs add to the casual chic-ness of José Ignacio. But don’t be fooled, it is incredibly under the radar glam. Tiny pop-up boutiques along the beach roads are charming and then juxtaposed with a bright red Ferrari which you soon realize isn’t at all that unusual in Jose Ignacio. Imagine the Hamptons fifty years ago, as that starts to give you an idea of what to expect from this tiny strip of land, sandwiched between two beaches, a little over an hour from Montevideo.
Being off season, it was less Ferrari and more bicycles, and we were able to get around easily enough. Our resort, Bahia Vik, had bikes on hand for all of us, but we could have just as happily walked into town. The long vast beach line was so untouched and relatively tourist free in March, perfect for kite flying as we soon discovered. So few people and so much to explore along the craggy coast. At one point, my husband started to look for music to accompany his beach yoga session, and quickly realized that he was already listening to the perfect playlist, the beach sounds were soft and soothing. No Spotify necessary.
My daughter and I took advantage of Bahia Vik’s sister property, Estancia Vik, which is ten minutes away, for a half-day horseback ride. Horses are generally not my thing, but the riding was gentle and the scenery majestic. Trotting along the expanse of rolling hills of the estancia for a few hours was incredibly peaceful and serene. It is surprising to see the landscape change from sand, dunes and rock to pure forest in the span of a few miles.
We spent six nights in this little corner of Uruguay and could have stayed longer. In fact, it was a lifestyle I could see myself adopting. I imagine the high season is as crazy as the low season is sleepy. About a mile down the beach from us was the third Vik property, Playa Vik, which was severe and angular and thoroughly modern in design. The pool, with its dark blue water and underlighting of stars jutted out towards the sea like a knife. I have never seen another pool like it. We ordered the house wine and sat on the pool’s edge for sunset more than once. Then retreated to the nearby firepit to get warm as the sun disappeared.
One restaurant that kept drawing us back (until the waiter knew not only our wine choice but our kids names) was Almacen El Palmar. The menu is French, surprisingly. Part bakery, part market, part outdoor garden, it is intriguing mostly by how unassuming it looks. A hand painted group of signs greets you on the path, pointing you towards Peru, Spain and Japan. The France sign points you to the front door. It looks so low key you might not expect anything from the food. We loved the low lit buzzy atmosphere (and the food!) so much that we went back three times. An unusual move for a family that prides itself on never doing the same thing twice.
And while there was much to do in and around José Ignacio; horseback riding, olive oil tastings, touring nearby Punta del Este, we realized the most beautiful thing about Jose Ignacio was just settling into it and letting go.
Kelly's Packing List for Jose Ignacio
From top row, left to right:
Aloha Marina maxi dress, $595, Agua by Agua Bendita bikini top$140, Zimmerman linen dress, $850, Maison Michel hat $710 Moda; Agua by Agua Bendita bikini bottoms, Corroon Big Daddy Beach Bag, coming soon in natural with electric blueberry $300; Zimmerman sunglasses $280; Loewe slides, $750 Moda; Ganni one-piece swimsuit $215