Gabriela Hearst’s Guide to Uruguay’s Best Beaches

The award-winning designer shares her local tips on where to eat, shop, and play.

Tali Kimelman
OF 14

Manhattan-based designer Gabriela Hearst didn’t always live in the big city. Originally from Uruguay, she grew up going between school in Montevideo and her family’s ranch in the untamed northern region of Paisandu. Every summer, she would road trip up and down Uruguay’s coast along the charming Ruta 10, stopping to explore the handful of villages along the way—a journey bookended by lively Punta del Este to the south and bohemian-chic José Ignacio to the north.

Years later, these memories would become an integral part of her label’s DNA, a line of womenswear that frequently draws on Uruguay’s coast for inspiration—its European-tinged history, distinctively South American culture, and natural beauty. “Uruguay is mostly European immigrants who adapted to the South American terrain,” she says. “So along the coasts there is luxury, but there is still this rusticness. It’s honest luxury, without any pretense.” The very same can be said of Hearst's own creations: As a designer, she’s known for her ultra-high-quality fabrics, ethical manufacturing, and streamlined compositions that capture a luxurious, effortless feeling.

Despite the demands of running her critically acclaimed brand—Hearst won the prestigious 2017 Woolmark International Prize in January—she invariably makes time for an annual pilgrimage to the beaches back home during the December –January high season. (The region offers prime beach vacationing through March.) And when she does find the time to make the long journey south, she knows precisely how to make the most of her trip. “There is so much to do, so much to eat, so much to see,” she told us. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t take relaxation seriously, either. “The beautiful thing about beaches in Uruguay is that you don’t have to be a part of the scene if you don't want to. You can party all night, or you can be a recluse.”

So whether you go for the nightlife and dining of Punta del Este, or prefer to take things slower in some sleepier nooks along Ruta 10, here are Gabriela Hearst’s essential tips about finding some inspiration of your own along Uruguay’s beachy coast.