La Pedrera, Uruguay

Photo: Elvis Boaventura [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D
Uruguay is starting to wake up. The little country—it’s the smallest in South America—is pretty sleepy during the winter. That’s what Uruguayans seem to call every season that isn’t summer. Once November rolls around, though, it’s a different story. Montevideo comes alive. Wineries open their doors to the public. Restaurants extend their dining space well beyond their walls. While everyone wants to spend as much time on the beach as possible.

Punta del Este and José Ignacio are home to the most popular beaches. Their jet-set crowds, fully booked hotels, and impossible dinner reservations are legendary. So you started looking north of the Maldonado Department. The country does have more than 400 miles of coastline after all. It didn’t take you very long to find La Pedrera.

La Pedrera is a seaside town that awakens during the summer. It’s in Rocha, the rural, easternmost department that borders the southern tip of Brazil. It used to be part of a cattle ranch that dropped into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s difficult to reach; two coastal lagoons make a roundabout road the easiest access. That’s made it slow to develop into a tourist destination. For years, the isolated village, home to only a few hundred year-round residents, was known only to hippies, surfers, and nature lovers.

Photo: Brisas de La Pedrera

Things have slowly and quietly started to change during the last 10 years. Wealthy Montevideans and Argentines have started buying property on La Rambla, the cliffside promenade, to build vacation homes. They have views of Playa del Barco and Punta Rubia, the wide, sandy beaches. Avenida Principal is dotted with artisans and musicians. Chefs from the Golden Riviera are opening second outposts along the main street. While high-rise hotels haven’t figure out a way to take over the skyline.

That doesn’t mean you have to slum it. La Pedrera’s first boutique hotel opened after an Argentine, who worked at California tech companies, found an early-1900s building that had a lot of promise—and ocean views from the second floor. She bought the colonial building, created 14 rooms, decorated with midcentury modern furniture, and added a pool. Brisas de La Pedrera has been the place to stay in La Pedrera for a decade.

Your master suite is stunning. The corner room is filled with light since two walls are entirely windows. It has a wooden floor and whitewashed wood beams. Sliding doors open onto the terrace, where you can sip coffee and watch waves crash in the morning. A full breakfast—including homemade tarts, locally made cheese, and eggs to order—is served downstairs on the shaded patio near the garden. Beach chairs, totes, and towels are available when you want to head down to the beach. While the pool, happy hour drinks, and restaurant suggestions will be awaiting your return when the sun starts to set. Uruguay just keeps getting better and better.

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