Not so long ago, José Ignacio was a very quiet fishing village, a haven for solo travelers and celebrities who occasionally sought to escape the paparazzi in an area near Punta del Este, a glamorous courtyard often compared to St.-Tropez .
But in the last five years, José Ignacio has become the most chic place in Latin America, thanks to the international jet set that visits it. There are no large buildings as in its neighbor Punta del Este, but you can see luxurious buildings that look out to the sea, whose architecture accompanies the style that characterizes the spa.
Typical days include relaxed lunches at 3 p.m., afternoons sunbathing on the beach, midnight dinners, and evening parties given by luxury brands such as Lacoste or Chivas in beachfront tents.
But that’s a small part of the charm. Except for a few frantic weeks after Christmas, when the social high season leaves no time for naps, José Ignacio remains a sleepy place. The only sounds are of the Atlantic waves colliding and the winds whistling. Noisy nightclubs are prohibited and parties end before 2 am.
In contrast to the active and commercial Punta del Este peninsula, José Ignacio attracts those who prefer the bohemian and informal atmosphere of dirt roads, hand-painted street signs, artisan shops and bed-and-breakfasts.
This tranquillity doesn’t take away from the sight of upscale restaurants, small cafés with gastronomic delights, art galleries and boutique inns. In fact here you will find acclaimed restaurants such as Marismo and Namm, both hidden by a sinuous dusty path, surrounded by a thick forest of pines, eucalyptus trees and acacias. Marismo, known for its lamb cooked for several hours in embers, is strictly outdoors, with candlelit tables located around a bonfire in the sand. Namm, which serves sushi and grilled meats, is housed in a wooden hut furnished with dim lanterns, low tables and padded bench seats.
The more isolated the location, the more attractive it seems. One case at the point is La Caracola, a private club on a deserted beach that can only be accessed by boat.
Although José Ignacio has been growing very rapidly in recent years, many agree that it still maintains that bohemian and relaxed spa charm but without losing the style, which characterizes it so much.
How to get there
There are no direct flights to José Ignacio. Many visitors first fly to Buenos Aires, then switch to Aerolíneas Argentinas or Pluna airlines for a connecting flight to Punta del Este. Connecting flights in Pluna start at around $240 in high season. The drive from Punta del Este to José Ignacio takes about 40 minutes. You can also fly to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, and drive 160 km to the village of José Ignacio.