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José Ignacio, Uruguay Is The Secret Beach Town That Should Be On Everyone’s List

How We Discovered José Ignacio

This past November, @ThreadTherapy and I were looking for a great escape from New York that offered us some sun before Winter went into full effect. Instead of looking for the typical spots, like the Caribbean, Mexico or Miami, we wanted to find a destination that was not only warm, but also felt like a departure from our every day lives.

Similar to when we went to Tokyo and immediately felt transported, that’s the exact same feeling we got when we touched down after a 12 hour flight to Uruguay. Uruguay itself is the second richest country in South America, where education is free, and the per capital income is high. You can feel it when you meet the locals. They’re happy, welcoming, and extremely knowledgeable about their country. Keep reading for our tips on how to get to José Ignacio, where to stay, what to eat, and how best to enjoy this amazing beach town.

José Ignacio is a small fisherman’s village an hour’s drive from Punta Del Este in Uruguay. It used to be just a normal fishing town, but has been completely transformed into an international destination. The town itself is tiny and can easily be navigated from end to end on a bicycle in under 20 minutes. Despite its size, it packs quite a culinary punch, and the homes are modernist masterpieces that make you think you’re back in Miami. The town has become the summer vacation spot for well heeled Brazilians, Argentinians and Uruguayans, and the best time to visit is from December to February. A point worth noting: If you visit in November, expect most restaurants to be closed except for the weekend.

Best Hotels in José Ignacio, Uruguay

The property in Posada del Faro stretches as far as the eye can see.

Estancia Vik

Estancia Vik José Ignacio sits on 4,000 acres in the rolling countryside of José Ignacio, Uruguay.

The hotel was built in 2007 and there are 12 total rooms, with 36 beds in all. In addition to offering a spa, gym, porter service, car park, and a laundry service, the hotel also offers 24 hour check in and out policy, which makes it incredibly convenient.

Playa Vik

In addition to offering various houses to stay at, Playa Vik also offers guest suites for your party. If you want to feel like you are staying in a home instead of a hotel, Playa Vik is the answer for you.

The service is absolutely incredible and there is definitely something to be said for being just a few feet away from the beach at all times. They go above and beyond here at Playa Vik to make the customers their first and only priority and it shows when you stay with them.

Horseback riding at Estancia Vik was an amazing excursion

Estancia Vik translates to Vik Estate, and its perched on a massive farm 20 minutes from the beach

After lunch at Posada del Faro, we took in the library with some espresso

Bahia Vik

If you are the type of person who wants to spend the trip privately, Bahia Vik is an excellent choice. It is away from the busy pacing people.

There are 11 private bungalow which, each has one of a kind style all throughout.

Posada del Faro

Posada del Faro is a boutique hotel that feels like home. The environment is so cozy and the location is marvelous.

Each of the rooms has an exceptional view facing the sea, so you’ll feel constantly relaxed as you are surrounded by nature. There are some shopping places and great nightlife nearby the beach resort, which makes it a prime location. The inn has just 15 rooms total, each with its own unique design.

The restaurant at Posada del Faro had an amazing fusion of Uruguayan and Italian fare

The lobby in Posada del Faro

Casa Zinc

An artsy antique vibe, Casa Zinc is perfect for people who are into finding something truly unique.

Instagram worthy rooms and ambiance are the name of the game here. This boutique hotel is not only picture-perfect, but also has plenty of amenities for you to enjoy on your vacation. The hotel is also surrounded by plenty of restaurants, so you’ll never go hungry.

Casa Anna Garzon

Casa Anna is a charming hotel styled like in 1920’s. It was rebuilt in the last 4 years and now has 6 “Casitas”, or double-room suites. One of the rooms, the Dormitorio, has 4 beds and is the perfect choice for a large group. Casa Anna has self catering service and all meals are prepared by the famous Chef, Francis Mallman.

The hotel also has a large garden with swimming pool, a Palapa style pool house that can become a cinema and can seat up to 30 people, and plenty of recreational activities you can enjoy. From a Ping-Pong court to an Observatory with a computerized telescope, a media room with Wi-fi, and a spa for a nice massage, you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained during your stay.

Where to Eat in José Ignacio?

If you’re going for a stylish breakfast and lunch you should go to El Mostrador de Santa Teresita. They offer delicious seasonal salads and seafood specials that will complete your day.

Parador La Caracola will make you feel like your thousands of miles away from civilization. Located on a small island, this restaurant is the perfect place to relax with a glass of their signature wine, enjoy some tapas, and indulge in great conversation with friends.

Namm is the perfect option if you’re looking for an Asian vibe. They serve sashimi and sushi. If you are interested in trying traditional Uruguayan meats and seafood dishes, they have that as well. The rustic open-air bamboo theme with hanging lanterns and light that flickers will give you romantic ambiance for a perfect date night.

Not so far from Namm you’ll find Marismo. It is loved by locals and tourists alike because of its open air setting. Is there anything better than being able to dine with the moon and stars shining above you while you feel the sand beneath your toes? Absolutely not. Even better, however, is the food itself. The chef cooks almost everything, so you’ll have your choice of traditional South American style fare.

And then there’s Garzon, a true five-star experience. Restaurante Garzon, owned by Francis Mallmann, is located smack dab in this small Urugayan village. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with a promise of gorumet food and an exceptional dining experience.

The menu can be a bit limited, depending on when in the season you go, but there is no denying the fact that the food is delicious. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit expensive and they don’t accept all credit cards, so make sure you come with cash just in case.

If none of those interest you, La Huella has a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor — and it’s for a pretty good reason. People love the laid back vibe and the phenomenal but unpretentious food. If you’re looking for somewhere reasonably priced, tasty, and exceptionally serviced, you’ve found the place for you.

What is there to do in José Ignacio?

Horseback riding in Estancia Vik

Breathtaking views and a peaceful, serene environment that would make just about anyone fall madly in love with José Ignacio? Sign me up. Horseback riding at Estancia Vik is not only a must-do when you’re in Uruguay, but it’s something that everyone should scratch off their bucket list.

Visit Garzon Winery

If you’re a wine aficionado, you absolutely must check out the Garzon Winery in José Ignacio. It is built atop a rocky outcrop, which makes it a unique site to see and a fascinating place to visit.

Spot celebrities in Punta del Este

Celebrities from all over flock to Jose Ignacio and typically make their way to Playa Brava. This strip of beach is about as close to paradise as one can get, and you never know who you might spot. Everyone from Ronnie Wood to Shakira has been spotted vacationing here.

Check out the lighthouse

This beautiful beacon can either by accessed by road or beach, making it the perfect stop during a long day of sight-seeing. There are plenty of places to stop along the way as well, since the road is filled with little shops and art stores.

Men’s Outfit Inspiration for José Ignacio

José Ignacio has very similar weather to Northern California. That means it can be high of the 90s during the day, but it can drop down to the 60s by night. Since this is the Hamptons of South America, here are my style tips:

  • Wear white, grey, and blues to match the colors of the sea and sand
  • Incorporate linen for during the heat of the day, but bring along a layering sweater
  • This is a preppy place, so loafers and drivers make a great casual statement
  • If you’re heading horseback riding, bring along sneakers, jeans and a rugged shirt

Poolside lunch plate at Playa Vik

La Huella’s sushi and steak right on the beach is a can’t miss

Almost all the restaurants are beachside, which is so rare in big cities like Miami

When is the best time to Visit José Ignacio?

From November to February, the beaches are a surfer’s dream. Not only are the waves exceptional, but people from the North will enjoy spending the cold winter months in tropical weather. Temperatures average in the mid 80s most days, with sunshine and some humidity. It certainly beats shoveling show and battling black ice though, doesn’t it?

How To Get To Jose Ignacio, Uruguay

The best way to get down to Jose Ignacio is by flying into Buenos Aires. The flight I took from EWR to EZE was 11 hours long, which, despite the length, allowed me to get a full nights rest.

We landed in Buenos Aires at 10:50am (only 2 hours ahead), and were able to hit the ground running. Unlike flights to Europe where you’ve got 5-6 hours of time change, heading to Jose Ignacio is a breeze.

Once you fly into Buenos Aires, you need to take a flight from AEP (the local Buenos Aires airport) to PDP (Punta Del Este). The drive from PDP is another 1 hour to Jose Ignacio. This seems like a lot, so what we did is stayed overnight in Buenos Aires when we landed, which gave us a chance to explore the city, then the next day we took our flight to PDP. There are flights all day to PDP so you can choose your ideal travel time.

Our hotel, Playa Vik, arranged a car transfer to Jose Ignacio, making the entire trip seamless, plus the drive along the water was beautiful and gave us a chance to checkout the other beach towns on the way to Jose Ignacio. I would also recommend staying in Punta Del Este for a night or two. There’s more nightlife, and bar scene in Punta Del Este, plus it would break up all your travel.

How To Get To Jose Ignacio Not From New York

For those of you not flying from New York, it can actually be easier to fly through Montevideo.

There are direct flights from Miami into Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay. The drive from Montevideo to Jose Ignacio is two hours. Your best bet is to rent a car, but like many of you already know, we hate driving, so you can schedule a pickup from your hotel as well. Expect pricing to be in the $300 range.

When in town, you should probably rent a car, and I wish we had done that, simply because the hotel only had two cars, which meant if someone was using them, you were stuck on the premises

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