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Travellers playing tennis on beach at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The 10 Best Beaches in South America

Traveller sat at Park Guell, Barcelona

By Sarah Hemsley

Last updated: 20th February 2024

Beach lovers, it’s time to pack your bags and fly to the best beaches of South America. Think crystal clear water, incredible sand dunes, adorable sea turtles and buzzing beach towns. Get ready for South America’s beaches…

1. Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

View of Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro

It’s easy to see why Brazil is a hot spot for backpackers. With such iconic golden sands, the buzzing coastal city of Rio de Janeiro is ideal if your sense of adventure is seeking a new trending destination. On our Introduction to Brazil, start your journey here, explore the best beach of South America, and roam around Rio in your free time. Hike Mount Corcovado to the iconic 38-metre statue of Christ the Redeemer, take the cable car to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain for spectacular views and immerse yourself in the buzzing Latin culture in the vibrant streets and of course, tick the world-famous Copacabana Beach off your beach bucket-list. You’ll stay just a 10-minute walk from the soft sands so pack your beach towel! Try out some watersports, chill on the sunkissed shore and hit the lively Brazillian beach bars for a delicious taste of Brazillian culture. Believe us, Copacabana is one for your list.

2. Tayrona National Park, Colombia

People at Tayrona National Park, Colombia

If you ask a Colombian local where the most beautiful beach in Colombia is, they’d say Tayrona National Park, simply because of its jaw-dropping natural beauty. Imagine a palm-fringed paradise. It’s the ideal place to please the beach lover inside of you. Relax on the soft sands, dive in the crystal clear waters or channel your inner explorer as you stroll through the stunning surroundings of this blissful wonderland. Who knows what you might discover, you could come across ancient ruins from the Tayrona people’s city… 👀

3. Huacachina, Peru 

Aerial view of Huacachina water oasis, Peru

So, this one’s not technically a beach, but it’s surrounded by golden soft sands, so it counts! Huacachina is an open playground in the middle of Peru, perfect for thrillseekers. Strap on a board and sandboard on the warm desert dunes and get your adrenaline fix whilst you rally across the sands in a buggy. When the evening comes around, watch in awe as the warm fiery sunset lights up the sky over the dunes. It’s a golden orange masterpiece. Experience this on:

4. Puerto Villamil Beach, Isabela Island, Galapagos

Birds sat on rocks at Isabela Island

Did you know Galapagos is made up of 127 islands, only 4 of which are inhabited? Isabela Island is one of the main 3 and it’s said to be the most adventurous and less explored. This means unspoilt beaches, wild animals roaming free and gorgeous landscapes of nature making the Island its very own playground. As you explore, you’ll surely spot pelicans, sea lions and sea turtles in the turquoise water. You’ll 100% want to pack your snorkelling gear for this one.

5. Paraty, Brazil

Travellers on boat trip around Paraty, Brazil

Swim, dive and soak up the sun on the gorgeous beaches of this quaint beach town. Paraty’s Bay boasts 65 tropical islands and lush beaches, some of which are the best beaches in South America. It's the ultimate beach break destination. Take a boat ride, discover secluded beaches, or dive into the water to spot incredible marine wildlife. On Day 60 of The South American Journey, spend a day here marvelling at its natural beauty.

6. Lopez Mendez, Ilha Grande Island, Brazil

View of Lopez Mendez beach on Ilha Grande island

Take a ferry from Paraty to the unspoilt island of Ilha Grande. Surrounded by lush rainforest it’s undoubtedly a paradise. Spot parrots, woodpeckers and Brazilian thrushes hiding in the trees and cheeky monkeys, armadillos and pacas chilling in the shade. Everywhere you look there’s something new to discover. Choose to chill on the stunning beach of Lopez Mendez, hike to Pico do Papagaio or take a snorkelling trip around the Island to get incredibly close to the underwater wildlife. Stop here on:

7. Playa Blanca, Colombia 

Sunset at Playa Blanca

Travelling Colombia? Make sure to visit the beautifully preserved Cartagena. This coastal city is known for its lovely sandy beaches, quaint cobbled alleyways, vibrant plazas and majestic houses decorated with floral vines. Think Italian vibes but with a traditional Latin twist. Call off here on Ultimate Colombia and enjoy a traditional Colombian feast with a fiery sunset view. For a gorgeous beach, venture just around the corner for pure white sands and unbelievably turquoise waters at Playa Blanca.

8. Playa Ramirez, Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo sign with beach and city in background

Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, has a total of 18 warm and sunny beaches. It’s hard to pick a favourite but Playa Ramirez takes first place. Located near downtown Montevideo, it’s the place to be for good vibes. Spent the morning relaxing on the white sands and pop over to the thrilling amusement park for some afternoon excitement. When the evening comes around, indulge your taste buds in the mouth-watering local cuisine and admire the impressive sunset from the promenade. It’s the perfect beach day out. Stop by on:

9. Tortuga Bay Beach, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

Marine iguanas on a sandy beach

Dreaming of the stunning Galapagos Islands? This one is for you! Located on the stunning Santa Cruz Island is the beautiful Tortuga Bay Beach, famous for its clear waters and incredible wildlife. As you stroll along on the pure white sands keep an eye out for families of iguanas sunbathing on the shore, friendly baby reef sharks swimming in the shallow water and seriously cute fur seals resting in the shade. Spend a day (or two, or three) here snorkelling, surfing and kayaking as giant tortoises swim directly beneath you. It’s by far the best beach for wildlife lovers. Explore the Galapagos on:

10. Mancora, Peru

Traveller on sandy beach at Mancora, Peru

On our Ecuador & Peru Adventure group trip, bronze your bod, surf the waves and watch stunning sunsets from Mancora, named Peru’s best beach town. If you love surfing, you’ll find the waves a treat. For all the foodies, there are plenty of authentic restaurants offering fresh ceviche. A traditional Peruvian dish made from fish marinated in lime juice. Fill up on it for dinner before heading out to the epic beach clubs. Mancora’s nightlife is surprisingly unmatched.

 

Are you ready to relax on these best beaches of South America? Dive into Latin culture and start planning your adventure with us today. Check out our beach breaks and our South America group trips.

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