20 Best Beaches In South America

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There’s a patch of paradise for everyone to enjoy in South America. Of course, Brazil’s famous coastline might come to mind first when you think of this continent. But there are many more beaches in South America to enjoy, from the rugged beauty of Peru and Chile to the vibrant nightlife of Uruguay and Argentina and the Caribbean bliss of Venezuela and Colombia.

There are world-class beaches in every corner of South America. The biggest problem you’ll have is choosing which ones to visit. So here’s our countdown of South America’s best beaches. So pack your bikini, swimming trunks, snorkels and go.

20 Best Beaches In South America 

South America Beaches Countdown

#20- Playa Roja (Peru)

Best beaches in south america paracas
Paracas National Reserve is home to some of the most natural beaches in South America.

Striking red sand and utterly devoid of the upscale resorts and restaurants so prevalent at South America’s most popular beaches, Peru’s Playa Roja is a treat for anyone looking to relax in solitude.

Located deep within Paracas National Reserve, reaching this South American beach is quite challenging. But anyone who manages to get there will be treated to some of the best seaside landscapes in Peru.

The beach itself is remote, so expect the company of pelicans, South American fur seals and otters.

This beach’s remoteness and inaccessible location place Playa Roja in the 20th spot on our list.

#19- Punta Sal (Peru)

south america beaches red bikini top, towel and starfish on the sand
With diverse landscapes spread across a vast continent, South America has a beach to suit everyone.

Northern Peru’s Punta Sal is a hidden gem of a beach town just waiting to be discovered.

Popular with locals, El Niño winds keep the beach and the water at a comfortable temperature year-round, making it the perfect destination for lounging and swimming.

No longer the small fishing community it once was, Punta Sal has experienced a lot of development and gentrification in recent years.

Fortunately, the beach remains as charming and inviting as ever.

Punta Sal comes in at number 19 on our countdown to South America’s best beach, thanks to its relaxed ambience and easy accessibility.

#18- Tortuga Bay (Ecuador)

best beaches in ecuador south America - a Galapagos Iguana heating itself in the sun resting on rock
You’re likely to meet marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay Beach on Santa Cruz Island. They are endemic to the Galapagos Islands.

Ecuador’s majestic Galapagos Islands is home to stunning collections of rare and exotic animals found nowhere else.

You can best experience its wild and untamed shores at Tortuga Bay, a protected stretch of the islands where iguanas, turtles and rare birds roam around on crisp white sand.

Tortuga Bay is a sanctuary to many of the Galapagos Islands’ most critically endangered species.

Visitors to the beach are nothing more than guests to spectate a fantastic collection of animals in their natural habitat.

Swimming is prohibited at Tortuga Bay, however, a nearby cove allows for water activities to be enjoyed, so long as you’re willing to share the water with white-tip reef sharks.

Tortuga Bay is undoubtedly a fabulous beach and one well worth your time even if you cannot have a quick dip to cool off, coming in at a solid 18th place on our list.

#17- Mar del Plata (Argentina)

south america best beaches
Looking for the best beaches in South America? Check out this list and pack your snorkel and go!

Mar del Plata is Argentina’s second-most visited city after capital Buenos Aires and home to many of Argentina’s most popular beaches.

Playa Waikiki, Playa Popular, Playa La Perla and Playa Grande are all located in or near Mar del Plata, each offering something unique to visitors.

Whether it’s excellent surfing spots, a lively boardwalk or just impeccable white sandy beaches, Mar del Plata has it all.

While the waters around Mar del Plata are pretty cold and not the cleanest due to the proximity to a large commercial port, it’s still excellent for lounging around and enjoying the stunning views.

You can find smaller, quieter beaches not far from Mar del Plata, away from the large crowds perfect for relaxing in solitude.

Mar del Plata’s beaches rank 17th on our list, given their easy accessibility and amenities.

For more beaches around the world read:

#16- Mancora Beach (Peru)

beaches in south america people on the beach and in the water in the light of the setting sun
Mancora Beach is another popular beach in South America’s Peru.

In Peru’s north-western Piura region, Mancora is a quaint resort town that sees many locals and international travellers flock to its sun-kissed shoreline.

Mancora is famous throughout the region for its vibrant open-air restaurant scene, commanding views of the Pacific Ocean on the one side and the rugged desert landscape on the other.

Kitesurfers flock to Mancora between December and March when the Pacific swells and the crisp ocean breeze create the perfect conditions for the sport.

While the beach itself is incredible, it’s after sunset that Mancora comes to life, as the surrounding nightclubs and eateries draw the party crowd from far away.

Mancora is a fantastic place to unwind and catch a tan during the day, followed by partying all night long afterwards, making it an easy selection at number 16 on our list.

#15- Joaquina Beach (Brazil)

best beaches south america woman with white hat
Joaquina is about 60 miles (98 km) to the south of Brazil’s famous nudist beach, Praia do Pinho.

A surfer’s paradise, Brazil’s Joaquina beach near the Santa Catarina capital of Florianopolis has perfect swells and dunes to captivate you all day.

A favourite with both locals and foreigners, Joaquina attracts large crowds looking to enjoy that quintessential golden sand and shimmering blue water that beach life is all about.

The stunning two-mile (3 km) long beach is a photographer’s dream, with gorgeous mountains and islands visible from the beach itself.

Catch a beach volleyball game with locals or enjoy excellent seafood at one of the many great eateries along the beach’s promenade. 

Joaquina has no shortage of great activities and attractions to enjoy, making it our 15th pick of best South American beaches.

#14- Anakena Beach (Chile)

best beaches in chile south America Silhouette shot of Moais at Anakena beach in Easter Island Chile sunset
The Moais at Anakena Beach on Easter Island makes it one of the most unusual beaches in South America.

Located on Easter Island (or Rapa Nui), Playa Anakena is one of the world’s most remote and difficult-to-reach beaches in South America.

The island is famous worldwide for its giant stone statues and its natural beauty leaves everyone who visits speechless.

There’s no better place to experience the best of Easter Island than its renowned beach, Playa Anakena.

Flanked by coconut trees, this majestic white sand beach shimmers brightly and is easily one of the best beaches in South America.

It is worth the five-hour flight to reach this mysterious island soaked in splendour, making it an easy pick at number 14 on our list.

#13- Jericoacoara Beach (Brazil)

beaches south america wavy sand patterns on Jericoacoara Beach
Jericoacoara Beach is a pristine and natural beach to visit in South America.

Located near the Brazilian city of Fortaleza is Jericoacoara, a gorgeous stretch of beach dotted with large dunes and tucked far away from the tourist hotspots and famous Brazil landmarks.

Few beaches in Brazil can compare to Jericoacoara’s stunning landscape and laid-back atmosphere, which is why so many backpackers and in-the-know tourists enjoy coming to this slice of paradise.

While Jericoacoara has no shortage of great activities to keep you entertained and busy, none are more spectacular and fun than the beach’s sand dunes, which offer unbeatable views from above, stretching as far as the eye can see.

Jericoacoara offers an eclectic and vibrant nightlife scene like nowhere else in South America, which promises to entertain you all day long, making Jericoacoara the 13th pick on our countdown.

#12- Punta Del Diablo (Uruguay)

With its chic boho vibe drawing visitors from as far away as Argentina and Brazil, Punta Del Diablo has rapidly become one of Uruguay’s most-visited seaside towns.

Artisan craft shops and traditional restaurants line the town’s streets and the beach’s promenade, making exploring Punta Del Diablo an exciting experience.

It’s a favourite spot to find fresh seafood caught daily by the town’s local fishermen and spot migrating whales off the coast on their way south to Argentina every year.

While Punta Del Diablo swells up during the holidays with an influx of tourists, the off-season remains relatively quiet.

Punta Del Diablo is easily our 12th pick, given its unique atmosphere and great beach, perfect for lounging around away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

#11- El Murciélago (Ecuador)

best south america beaches Beach chairs and umbrella on a beautiful beach.
Looking for the perfect beach in South America? Check out our top 20 list.

A haven for surfers and bodyboarders, Ecuador’s El Murciélago beach in Manta hosts several events dedicated to these water sports every year, however, that’s not the only reason to visit El Murciélago.

The urban beach is home to the best seafood restaurants serving up some excellent tuna, something Manta’s known for far and wide.

The beach consists of beautiful golden sand and clear blue water perfect for cooling off during the warm Ecuadorian summer months.

This puts El Murciélago at a comfortable 11th place on our countdown of the best beaches in South America.

#10- Nuqui Beach (Colombia)

Best beaches in South America nuqui beach wooden row boat moored on the shore of the beach
Nuqui Beach is a South American beach getaway away from the crowds.

Popular with those looking for a more rugged South American travel experience, Colombia’s untouched Nuqui welcomes visitors with almost-deserted beaches, hot springs and Colombia’s best nature.

While the pristine mangrove-protected beaches around Nuqui are stunning, Nuqui is worth your time because of the large numbers of humpback whales that travel to the warm waters near the shore every year.

Think of Nuqui as your private getaway for a fraction of the price, making it an easy addition at 10th place on our countdown to the best beach in South America.

Also read: 20 Famous Landmarks In Colombia.

#9- Punta Del Este (Uruguay)

columbia south america beaches "The Hand" a famous sculpture in "Punta del este" Uruguay
The Hand is a famous sculpture that makes this Uruguay beach one of the most famous beaches in South America.

Uruguay’s playground for the rich and famous, Punta Del Este, is one of the country’s most popular places to catch some of South America’s best surf and ocean vistas.

The town has numerous world-class beaches to choose from, however, none are as impressive and as renowned as Playa Brava.

Playa Brava is Uruguay’s version of Florida’s Miami Beach, flanked by high-rise buildings and lively clubs.

The site of ‘La Mano’, a famous sculpture of a hand seemingly rising out from underneath the sand, is one of Uruguay’s well-known landmarks.

Punta Del Este and Playa Brava easily make our list of best beaches to visit given its great location, incredible amenities and picture-perfect views, coming in at a well-deserved 9th place.

#8- Praia do Sancho (Brazil)

South America Beaches bahia do sancho aerial of curving beach with clear water
Bahia do Sancho is a pristine natural beach in South America to tick off your to-visit list.

About an hour off the coast of mainland Brazil is Praia do Sancho, one of South America’s most visually stunning beaches.

Turquoise water gently caresses the sandy beach while sea turtles, humpback whales and dolphins frolic around off the coast.

Only accessible via a wooden boardwalk, followed by a steep cliffside descent and traversing through narrow rock tunnels, few visitors manage to reach Praia do Sancho.

This adds to the beach’s serenity and privacy, with visitors often finding themselves completely alone on the golden crescent-shaped beach.

Praia do Sancho is one of South America’s best beaches given its romantic aura, seclusion and gorgeous location.

#7- Taipus de Fora (Brazil)

Taipus de Fora is everything you would imagine when visualising what paradise must look like.

Think clear blue water, a palm tree-lined beach and world-class resorts just a stone’s throw away.

Taipus de Fora’s shoreline becomes a snorkeller’s delight during low tide when numerous natural pools and coral reefs jut out from underneath the water.

Stretching for over seven kilometres (4.3 miles), there’s plenty of Taipus de Fora to enjoy even during busy peak season, making it an easy choice at number 7 when counting down the best beaches in South America.

#6- Prainha Beach (Brazil)

nude beaches in south america prainha beach
Prainha Beach in Rio de Janeiro is a popular surf beach in South America.

Prainha Beach is an hour’s drive south of downtown Rio de Janeiro, but it feels a world away from Rio’s famous volleyball-lined, high-rise-backed beaches.

Prainha swaps concrete towers for lush tropical jungles and rocky cliffs, creating a secluded yet beach atmosphere found nowhere else near Rio.

The beach’s thundering swells create the perfect location for surfers to catch some breaks, while the laid-back bars and restaurants near the beach entertain the weekend crowd.

This quintessential Brazilian beach ranks at number 6 on our list because of its gorgeous location, proximity to downtown Rio and perfectly pristine sand to lounge on all day long.

#5- Los Roques (Venezuela)

Beaches in South America los roques venezuela white sand and emerald water with two beach umbrellas seen from above
Los Roques in Venezuela is home to some of the most idyllic beaches in South America.

The postcard-pretty Los Roques archipelago off the northern Venezuelan coast near Caracas is like something from a fantasy world, where the whitest sand meets the bluest blue water of the Caribbean.

Incredible snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities among the gorgeous coral reefs are the main draw to the beaches of Los Roques National Park, although many flock here to lounge on some of the best beaches in South America.

These beaches are every bit as beautiful as other, more well-known Caribbean Island beaches for a fraction of the price.

#4- Boa Viagem (Brazil)

prettiest beaches in south america Boa Viagem Beach and buildings in the background
Boa Viagem Beach in Bazil’s Recife Pernambuco has a lively vibe.

Brazil’s Boa Viagem beach might be a long way from Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana geographically, however, Boa Viagem matches Copacabana’s lively energy and looming concrete buildings better than any other beach on this list.

This beautiful South American beach with pearly white sand and top-tier shops is minutes from downtown Recife.

Boa Viagem is the Copacabana of the north in both spirit and beauty.

Extremely popular during the yearly Carnival, when tourists and locals flock to see the colourful street parades and lively nightlife, Boa Viagem and the surrounding neighbourhoods come to life with bright colours and an all-around festive spirit.

Although the festival is not as popular as Rio’s carnival celebrations, Boa Viagem’s celebrations are just as passionate and exciting for a fraction of the price, making it a comfortable number 4 on our list of best beaches to visit in South America.

#3- Lopes Mendes (Brazil)

most beautiful beaches in south america beach, waves and mountain in the background
Lopes Mendes beach in on the beautiful island of Ilha Grande near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and is considered one of the best beaches in South America.

Brazil’s two-mile (3 km) Lopes Mendes Beach attracts beachgoers with its white sand and azure water on the spectacularly beautiful Ilha Grande Island.

This is surely what paradise must look like?

Flanked by lush groves of palm and almond trees, all you need to do is spread your towel out on the sand and relax.

Undeveloped and untouched, there’s nothing more peaceful than strolling along this gorgeous stretch of sand at sunset.

Lopes Mendes makes the top three of our list thanks to its lack of development and its unbeatable combination of perfect sand and incredible water.

#2- El Cabo San Juan (Colombia)

beaches in colombia south America curved beach with palm groves and mountain in the background
Colombia is home to some of the most pristine beaches in South America.

Some of South America’s most beautiful beaches are right in the heart of Tayrona National Park, Colombia’s evergreen and spectacular stretch of nature.

El Cabo San Juan is a remote stretch of pure bliss only reachable via a 90-minute hike.

Push past the palm trees lining the sliver of white sandy beach, and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most-picturesque sights anywhere in the world, the shimmering Caribbean Sea gently lapping the shore.

Rent a hammock and sleep like a babe on the beach beneath the starry night sky.

There’s no other beach like El Cabo San Juan, making it our second-best beach in South America.

#1 Copacabana (Brazil)

beautiful beaches in south america Copacabana Beach
Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s and South America’s most famous beach.

There is no other beach better suited for the number one spot on any ‘best beaches in South America’ list than the world-famous Copacabana.

Rio de Janeiro’s heart is a stunning 2.5-mile (4 km) stretch of beach overlooked by Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue.

It has been immortalised in photographs worldwide and is one of the most famous beaches.

Groups of locals playing beach soccer, sun-kissed bodies playing volleyball and joggers running along the beach’s famous promenade are all famous attractions of Copacabana alongside the mesmerising water itself.

Cap off your visit to the Copacabana by heading across the road to enjoy a refreshing cocktail.

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Christina Pfeiffer Travel Writer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.