José Ignacio (Officially Faro José Ignacio) is a very exclusive resort community near Punta del Este that attracts a number of high-profile visitors during the peak summer season. What was once a small, quiet fishing village with virtually no activity has blossomed into a chic hot spot, attracting wealthy globetrotters vying to check out the “St. Tropez of Latin America.” You won’t find the bustling all-night discos and clubs of La Barra in this low key area.
Despite its rapid development, José Ignacio has managed to hold on to its small-town charm. Outside of the peak of summer, you won’t find the beaches and streets packed with tourists, as they flock to the more Miami-like main areas of Punta del Este. One of José Ignacio’s main sights is its 1877 lighthouse, which invites tourists to leave the rat race behind and embrace the quiet slogan of its beaches: “Only the wind runs here.”
The area is dotted with exclusive restaurants and clubs, like La Caracola, a private club located on a hidden beach that can only be reached via a boat. Look for upscale art galleries, boutique inns and well-known hospitality leaders, like restaurateur Adolfo Suaya from Los Angeles, who opened the Casa Suaya hotel.
While summer season in Uruguay lasts from October to March, the high season in spots like La Barra and José Ignacio are very specific: from a few days after Christmas through the first two weeks in January. José Ignacio is about a 20-minute drive from the Punta del Este peninsula.