Jose Ignacio is one of the most charming towns on the Atlantic Coast of Uruguay. This fishing village has become one of the most exclusive tourist destinations in South America, visited by celebrities such as Shakira, Naomi Campbell, and Elon Musk. It is perfect for people who love the beach and enjoy being away from the city. In this article, you will learn about this little oasis and all the things it has to offer.
The town is located on a small peninsula just 25 miles north of the vibrant Punta del Este. To get there, you just need to drive down Route 10 until you reach the department of Maldonado. Given its easy access and close proximity to the big city, many tourists only visit it during the day, to relax and decompress before heading back to Punta del Este. However, if you prefer peace and quiet, staying in this beautiful coastal town is an excellent idea.
Jose Ignacio is a tribute to Meditation
The biggest appeal of Jose Ignacio is its exclusive and quiet beaches. There are two very different beaches, one on each side of the peninsula. The calm waters and fine sands of La Mansa Beach wait for you on the western shore. La Mansa is ideal for swimming and just unwinding in the water. It is also the perfect spot to watch the sunset, with small fishing boats adorning the view. On the other side of the peninsula lies La Brava Beach. Its name means "the angry one," since the waters are not as calm as the ones at La Mansa. On La Brava, you will find waves that are great for surfing and practicing other sports.
Another great attraction of Jose Ignacio stunning fishing village is the lighthouse, which was built in 1877 to stop the constant shipwrecks in the area. It is 107 feet tall and at the top has a circular balcony from which you will have a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as of the picturesque town.
Jose Ignacio is known for its unbelievable gastronomy and for having some of the most select restaurants in Uruguay, including Parador La Huella. This restaurant is managed by Chef Alejandro Morales, who states that he wants his food to feel homemade. He strives for simplicity, which is why his dishes aren't heavily decorated. Instead, he focuses on the quality and taste of the food. People who have been to his restaurant often recommend the dulce de leche volcano, a very traditional dessert. The restaurant is located on La Brava Beach and offers great views of the shore.
On the other side of the peninsula lies a more relaxed restaurant called "La Susana." Here, you will eat fresh Uruguayan food while your feet touch the fine sands. The restaurant’s main appeal is its bohemian vibe. Tourists often savor refreshing cocktails while listening to live music.
Accommodations in Jose Ignacio are limited, so staying for a night can be quite expensive. As such, tourists tend to visit during the day and go back to Punta del Este after sunset.
However, if you decide to stay overnight in Jose Ignacio privileged location, you can do so in one of the extraordinary boutique hotels. Some that stand out are three hotels built by Norwegian entrepreneur Alexander Vik. Bahia Vik is located in La Mansa Beach and offers private bungalows decorated by Uruguayan artists. Right next to it, you will find Playa Vik, which has a famous suspended pool. Finally, for those who enjoy other activities such as horseback riding, polo, and bird watching, Estancia Vik is a perfect choice. This retreat is located a little farther from the shore and has a colonial-style architecture.
The best time to visit this premium destination is during the summer when the high temperatures allow visitors to enjoy the beaches, and all restaurants and attractions are open. However, some restaurants like Parador La Huella open during the weekends in the winter, so if your main goal is to enjoy the gastronomy, that’s a great time as well.