Jose Ignacio

Heading east along the coast, Jose Ignacio is the last town on the ocean in the state of Maldonado.

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Chic Jose Ignacio


Heading east along the coast, Jose Ignacio proudly bears the title of being the last seaside town in the state of Maldonado. Once a modest fishing village, this charming little town caught the attention of the esteemed New York Times, which aptly described it as chic but not famous. Since then, it has become one of the continent’s most sought-after destinations, attracting affluent people yearning for a slice of paradise. It is also a magnet for tourists looking for an unforgettable day trip.

Nestled in a tranquil setting, this town effortlessly combines shabby chic with the charm of its pristine beaches. With its century-old lighthouse, summer farms, and sprawling mansions along rustic dirt roads, Jose Ignacio exudes an air of elegance. Spanning 36 city blocks, this luxurious enclave has retained its rural charm while embracing the allure of the coast.

Over the past decade, José Ignacio has emerged as one of the top destinations in Latin America, attracting the international jet-set crowd. While it may not have as much commercial activity as Punta del Este, José Ignacio offers a more laid-back lifestyle that appeals to the bohemian crowd. With its dirt roads, hand-painted street signs named after birds, and charming mom-and-pop boutiques and bed-and-breakfasts, the town exudes an informal atmosphere.

A typical day in José Ignacio includes leisurely lunches at 3 p.m., relaxing on the beach in the late afternoon while enjoying the sunset with a cocktail and DJ music, and al fresco dinners and late-night parties.

José Ignacio is conveniently situated at kilometer 183 of route 10, just a 20-minute drive from La Barra and before reaching Laguna Garzón.


The name José Ignacio has its roots in the colonial era, deriving from a former resident who lived in the area. As early as 1763, there was a house in the town bearing this name.

In 1877, due to the prevalence of shipwrecks in the area, a lighthouse was constructed on a rocky peninsula. Similar to the lighthouse in Punta del Este, it was built using strong and high-quality volcanic earth imported from Europe, ensuring its excellent condition over time.

Throughout most of the twentieth century, the area remained sparsely populated, with only a small group of affluent families from Montevideo and Buenos Aires summering there from the 1970s. These families built their Mediterranean-style homes by the ocean. However, as early as 1907, land subdivisions were made, and the first houses were constructed in 1920. This marked the beginning of the transformation into a fishing village, with a population of no more than 60 permanent residents until the 1980s. In 1980, real estate and tourism development began, even though essential services such as electricity and water were still lacking.

For further insight, you may find an excellent article in Global Mansions, the Real Estate Magazine, that explores José Ignacio’s rise as the new Hamptons.


Scenic view of sea against clear orange sky

Similar to Punta del Este, Jose Ignacio has two main beaches: La Mansa and La Brava.

La Mansa, located to the west, is more protected by the peninsula and has calmer waters, making it perfect for swimming. This beach is also known for its fishermen’s boats and is famous for its breathtaking sunset views at one of its beach bars, La Susana. Unfortunately, La Susana was destroyed by a fire in February 2023, but we are hopeful that it will be operational again for the 2023/2024 season.

La Susana, owned by the Bahia Vik Hotel, not only serves as a restaurant but also has a bar where you can enjoy drinks made with their house vodkas like caipiroskas or vodka tonics. Please note that La Susana is only open for lunch during the high season.

On the other hand, La Brava stretches to the east of the town and has a wider beach with more powerful waves, making it a favorite among surf enthusiasts. This beach marks the beginning of a series of vast and unpopulated beaches that extend all the way to Laguna Garzón. One must not miss the opportunity to have lunch or dinner at the renowned restaurant La Huella, located at the end of town on the Brava beach. This establishment has helped put Jose Ignacio on the map and is currently ranked number 25 among the top 100 restaurants in South America. Additionally, a few miles to the east, you will find Chiringuito by Francis Mallmann, situated on Route 10, Km 185.5 of José Ignacio. This restaurant operates from Wednesday to Monday, from 12 to 5 PM.


Most visitors opt to spend their day exploring Jose Ignacio, drawn to its charming and peaceful atmosphere. This idyllic town encourages leisurely walks or bike rides through its streets, allowing visitors to uncover a range of architectural styles, from vibrant-colored houses to grand, modern or traditional mansions. Another popular option is a visit to the José Ignacio Lighthouse.

While Jose Ignacio may not boast large shopping centers, it offers an array of small, exclusive shops. One notable establishment is Sensation du Temps Jewelry, specializing in luxury jewelry and fine timepieces. Another fashionable boutique, El Canuto by Playa Vik Hotel, showcases locally-made handmade ponchos. Sentido, located near La Huella, is a captivating store offering a diverse range of items, including candles and unique household gifts. Additionally, La Estena and Santa Negras are also worth exploring for their distinctive offerings.



In the outskirts of Arenas Jose Ignacio, you can find popular restaurants like Marismo and Namm, tucked away on a winding, dusty road. Surrounded by pine, eucalyptus trees, and acacias, these eateries are buzzing with activity.

Marismo is renowned for its slow-cooked lamb and charming outdoor seating, illuminated by candlelights and fires in the sand. One of the trendiest establishments in the area, Marismo boasts a bar and open-air dining room with a sand floor that is often crowded, especially during the busy January high season. The ambiance is casual, with knotty pine chairs lining a well-worn wood bar. At night, the atmosphere becomes more upscale, with live DJs or musicians setting the mood as bonfires roar. Locals often enjoy carafes of Rose and white Sparkling Wine.

Located directly on the beach, La Huella is the coolest and most well-known restaurant in Jose Ignacio. It attracts actors, models, wealthy individuals, and aspiring celebrities. Situated at the entrance to Brava Beach, this vibrant place operates as a restaurant throughout most of the day. Its open-air architecture provides a gathering point and shade for surfers and beach-goers during the day. After 10 pm, La Huella transforms into a different entity, with enticing groove music drawing a seductive crowd to the indoor bar, patio, and beach. The bar serves excellent caipirinhas and fruit daiquiris, accompanied by sushi or appetizers from the adjacent restaurant’s clay oven. The famous Lacoste party at La Huella marks the beginning of the high season, but even during the offseason, it remains a popular spot on weekends, thanks to its Mediterranean-inspired menu.

Solera Bar de Tapas y Vinos has quickly become the go-to place for locals and tourists. Situated behind the Ancap gas station, this establishment offers a fantastic selection of wines from various countries and regions. These wines are expertly paired with different cheeses and tapas.

Other notable restaurants in and around Jose Ignacio include Santa Teresita, Juana, Cruz Del Sur, and La Olada. For more restaurant recommendations in Jose Ignacio, be sure to check out our list


La choza jose ignacio copy

In Jose Ignacio, you won’t find any traditional nightclubs. Instead, the nightlife scene revolves around parties that occur either in La Juanita or at beach bars featuring live music or renowned DJs to get people dancing. Private homes also host their own gatherings. Additionally, there are a few temporary after-hours party spots in La Juanita, such as Ferona and The Lab.

Hotels & Posadas

Posada ayana

Posada Ayana is the most recent addition to the upscale luxury boutique hotels in Jose Ignacio. This adult-only posada features 14 individual rooms and a three-bedroom villa, totaling 17 rooms.

Situated on Mansa beach within the town, Playa Vik is a contemporary icon owned by Alex and Carrie Vik. Designed by renowned Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, it showcases six guest houses with distinctive grass rooftops. The main house, which is eco-friendly and modern, incorporates plenty of glass and titanium. Throughout the property, you’ll find works by contemporary Latin American artists. Estancia Vik, located in a rural country setting to the north, offers guests an authentic equestrian experience with its very own polo field. The newest addition, Bahia Vik Hotel, sits directly on Mansa beach at the entrance of Jose Ignacio. It features a 25,000-square-foot beachfront lodge, ten rental villas, and 40 residences. At Bahia Vik, you can dine at the renowned restaurant La Susana, which is frequented by celebrities.

Casa Suaya, another boutique hotel, offers a secluded retreat facing the Atlantic Ocean. It boasts 16 stone-wall suites and three charming thatched-roof bungalows. The onsite restaurant, Butiá, provides stunning sea views and overlooks the inviting pool.

Posada del Faro offers Mediterranean-style rooms arranged around a small pool, offering picturesque views of the beautiful José Ignacio Mansa Bay.

Casagrande introduces a new concept to the area, with a combination of condominium and hotel accommodations. It is the first of its kind in Jose Ignacio.

Tucked between the Uruguayan countryside and the Atlantic Ocean, Luz Culinary Wine Lodge is a nature-focused hotel situated on 35 acres of private land. With only six rooms, it offers an intimate and tranquil setting for guests to enjoy.


Posada ayana

Various galleries in town showcase modern and contemporary art. Among them is Galerie de las Misiones, which offers a unique selection of artworks. Another notable gallery is Gallery Las Caracoles, where you can view pieces by local artists who have gained recognition nationwide. Galeria Oto Lugar is the third gallery worth mentioning, known for its diverse collection of artwork.

Additionally, a must-see attraction at Posada Ayana is the first free-standing skyspace in South America, called Ta Khut. Created by renowned artist James Turrell, this mesmerizing installation is a truly immersive experience.

Things To Do

José Ignacio is fortunate to be situated in close proximity to two stunning lagoons that showcase the area’s natural beauty and richness.

The first lagoon, José Ignacio Lagoon, can be found just a few kilometers west of the beach. It is easily visible from Route 10, making it a convenient destination for families looking to spend an afternoon together. Here, visitors can indulge in activities such as bird watching, as the lagoon is home to a wide variety of wild bird species. For those seeking more adventure, there are kitesurfing schools that offer lessons.

On the other hand, Garzón Lagoon is located 6 km to the east of José Ignacio. Thanks to a newly constructed round bridge, it is now easily accessible from Maldonado and the Rocha area along the ocean. This lagoon provides a tranquil getaway surrounded by meadows and offers the opportunity to see traditional fishing boats in its waters. Visitors can engage in activities such as kitesurfing or enjoy a peaceful picnic.

One of the iconic landmarks in José Ignacio is the Faro José Ignacio, also known as the lighthouse. It towers over the coastline and is a sight that is often depicted on postcards. Visitors have the chance to climb 32 meters to the top, but it should be noted that the ascent includes 150 steps, requiring caution and a bit of physical effort. The lighthouse was designated as a National Historical Heritage site in 1970.

In addition to these natural attractions, visitors to the area can partake in various activities such as water skiing on a lake, kiting and surfing on the lagoons, and horseback riding on the beach. The town also hosts the annual JIFF (José Ignacio International Film Festival) and a popular food and wine event called the Feria Gastronomica, usually held at the end of October.

For polo enthusiasts, the Punta del Este Polo & Country Club has been hosting exclusive events and tournaments since 1989. The club boasts three regulation-sized fields that are always well-maintained, making it a renowned destination in the world of international polo.

New Real Estate Projects

Just minutes away from town, the rapid growth of a booming community is evident with the establishment of Laguna Escondida, a lakefront resort consisting of 200 units, developed by renowned Florida real estate mogul Jorge Perez.

For those seeking gated communities, Jose Ignacio offers a range of options including El Secreto, Pinar del Faro, La Brava, Club del Mar, and the more open Village del Faro, which continually sees the construction of new homes each year. Notable recent projects include Casa Grande, Petanque, Anastasio, and Las Carcavas. Additionally, there are new developments in Jose Ignacio and La Juanita, such as the highly sought-after Playa Brava, Alma Juana, and La Juanita Beach.

Click here to stay up to date with the latest developments in Jose Ignacio and Uruguay.

If you are interested in viewing real estate in Jose Ignacio, please feel free to reach out to us via phone or email.


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