José Ignacio, Uruguay
José Ignacio, like most of the beach towns near Uruguay’s Punta del Este, is a former fishing village. This one grew up and became incredibly stylish. It has galleries, restaurants and a very understated see-and-be-seen culture. Barefoot, sunkissed and tousled friends and families enjoy quiet time on the town’s two beaches, one with barely a wave in sight and the other for those who like to jump in the surf. What makes José Ignacio special, in addition to the white sand beaches and high-end restaurants nearby is the lack of pretension. Even the houses in the town, many of them second or third homes to the wealthy, have an understated sophistication, and it’s a pleasure to walk through town eating ice cream as you pass by blooming hibiscus in every color.
Further on from the town is the hamlet of Garzón, down a dirt road, where Francis Mallman has opened a winery and restaurant that’s on everyone’s must-visit list. Some of Uruguay’s best wines come from Bodega Garzón and Mallman’s restaurant, like his others in Mendoza (Argentina) and Colchagua (Chile) attract people from all over for carefully curated, colorful food that is ultra fresh and shows off his unpretentious style.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Uruguay’s nearly unexplored northeastern coastline has much to offer. Continue from José Ignacio to Laguna Garzón, with its circular bridge for kitesurfing, or to Garzón for horseback riding, birdwatching and kayaking. Or head north to Punta del Diablo for surfing, or up across the dunes to Cabo Polonio, the tiniest and most laid-back of all of Uruguay’s fishing villages, where a resident pod of sealions loll on the beach and in season, whales can be seen from the shore.
When to Go
We recommend visiting November through March.
How to Arrive
Los Angeles: 10 hrs 45 min New York: 10 hrs 40 min Miami: 8 hrs 20 min London: 14 hrs 45 min
Good to know
Language: Spanish Currency: Uruguayan Peso (UYU) Visas/fees: Travel to Uruguay does not require a visa for US/US/EU/CAN/AUS travelers.
Tips from our Team
The tour in Colinas de Garzón is one of the best presentations on olive oil production that we have seen. This a a must visit for anyone visiting Punta del Este!
Be sure to experience the incredible views of the coastline from Alto de la Ballena’s tasting room. Be sure to try their Merlot!
We are a big fan of Francis Mallman, and his restaurant El Garzon lives up to it’s great reputation.
Ready to go? Here’s what to pack
Punta del Este is a sunny beach town with a bohemian vibe. Trade your work suites for bathing suits and don’t forget the SPF.
- Bathing suits
- Lounge clothing
- Walking sandals
- Sunblock and sun protection