Cabo Polonio is currently my favourite place in the world and is the jewel in Uruguay’s stunning but largely ignored crown. Most people forget about Uruguay, which is overshadowed by it’s giant neighbours, Argentina and Brazil, but the whole country should be put on your to-visit list without delay. The village Cabo Polonio can be found within a national park fairly close to the border with Brazil. All the fishing villages along the coast are stunning, but Cabo Polonio is unforgettable. Here’s why:
- A 4×4 Truck Ride
Cabo Polonio is an adventure from the start. To get to it, you have to leave your car at the visitor’s centre (there are also buses that will leave you here) and climb aboard a huge 4×4 truck which takes you up and down 7km of sand dunes and then sweeps along the beach to the peninsula between on which the cabins of Cabo Polonio sit. The child in you can’t help but get excited.
- A Cluster of Cabins
The village is made up of brightly coloured stone or wooden cabins. The truck pulls up in the sandy square in the middle which is surrounded by a few cafes and wooden stalls selling beautiful arts and crafts. There are a few hostels and guest houses and plenty of the cabins are for rent, so if it’s low season (summer and especially Christmas are madness apparently) you won’t have a problem finding somewhere to lay your head.
- Two Incredible Beaches
Cabo Polonio has two perfect beaches that will keep anyone happy. One is ‘mansa’ (calm or tame) and one is ‘brava’( wild). We wiled away a happy morning on the tame beach, although for me autumn + Atlantic Ocean = not my idea of fun. I personally didn’t fancy immersing myself fully in the icy water but I paddled away to myself extremely contently. Spring and autumn are apparently the best times to visit this bit of paradise on earth, as the winters and very cold and the summers blisteringly hot.
- The Lighthouse
From the top of the red and white striped lighthouse you can see for miles each way, with the beaches and sand dunes stretching out either side of you. You get an incredible of the rocky island just off the peninsula covered in sea lions.
- Sea Lions Galore
The island offshore is crawling with these huge beasts and they venture onto the mainland too. A group of sea lions sits on the rocks close to the lighthouse and have periodic clumsy punch-ups that send them all diving into the choppy water. A stunning sight and not a bad photo opportunity.
- The Best Sunset of Your Life
The sunsets I saw in Uruguay were all absolutely mind-blowing. The sky stayed orange for what seemed like hours after the sun had gone to bed, and the wash of the surf on the calm beach reflected the colours, giving the whole beach a warm glow. Hypnotising.
- Completely off the Radar
There is very little wifi or signal in Cabo Polonio. It’s the perfect excuse to turn off your phone and completely cut yourself off from the stresses of everyday life, even if just for 24 hours. Heaven.
- The Village Store
The main product on sale here is wine, i.e an entire wall of it. Food selection limited. This is one shop that has its priorities right.
- Fire and Candlelight
Once night falls candles are your only source of light (bring plenty as the village store can run out). You can build yourself a fire outside your cabin to keep warm, as the autumnal nights were freezing. Everything and everyone looks wonderful by candlelight (and after a couple of glasses of the village store’s finest).
- The Milky Way
Cabo Polonio is hours away from the nearest big city and the night sky is completely untouched by light pollution. The perfect spot for a bit of star gazing.
- Freshly Baked Bread
At about 10am a charming man from the bakery came round with freshly baked loaves and slices of still-warm banana bread. At-door banana bread service?!
I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I hope you do too.
Photos by Victor Herranz.