This post is a collection of the best beaches in South America according to experienced travelers who kindly agreed to collaborate with their amazing pictures and useful tips on their favorite place. So in case you are planning a beach holiday in the near future or you just want to dream about the beautiful beaches in Latin America, this post is spot on!
From the white sand and clear waters of the Caribbean Sea in Colombia to the rough coasts of Brazil, South America is brimming with spectacular coastlines waiting to be explored enjoyed, and photographed.
Whether you are a suffer, or you just enjoy the sun on a white-sand beach sipping a margarita, Latin America offers popular beach destinations for all kinds of travelers and nature lovers.
In fact, the southern hemisphere, with its variety of climate and ecosystem boasts an incredible diversity of environments, offering miles and miles of coastline with the most variety of landscape from white sand beaches, and calm waters to volcanic shorelines, from rocky coasts to powder-like sand, not to mention the incredible marine life that you can observe at only a few miles from the shore in some destinations.
In this list of South America’s best beaches, I will share some of the best places that you should include in your trip.
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The most amazing South America’s beaches that you must include in your trip
Tortuga Bay – Ecuador
Located in Santa Cruz, the most developed among the Galapagos Islands Archipelago in Ecuador, Tortuga bay is a must-see Galapagos beach and one of the free things to do in Santa Cruz.
You can reach this beautiful secluded wide beach by walking from the resort town of Puerto Ayora, following a lovely path made with stones and surrounded by trees and birds. On the way to the beach remain silent and stop every now and then to observe all species of finches and the yellow warbler, very common across the islands.
After a 10-minute walk and you will arrive on a spectacular wide white sand beach where most of the time you will see surfers waiting for the perfect waves. That part of the beach, although beautiful to watch is not suitable for swimming. But worry not.
If you keep walking on your right you will enjoy a nice walk among sea iguanas birds and red crabs until you reach another secluded beach where the sea is calm and you can easily swim.
At the further end of this beach, you will also find some kayak rentals and snorkeling gear for rent if you wish to explore the bay.
The beach is open from 8 am to 5 pm, but I suggest you should wait until the very end when the guards will kick you out because that’s the time when baby sharks and manta rays will get by the shoreline. It’s an incredible experience to watch them.
Also during the day keep an eye on the side of the bay for the funny blue-footed boobies resting on the rocks. In the late afternoon, they will also get closer to the beach for fish hunting.
It’s an incredible show to watch while they are diving into the ocean to catch their prey.
The beach has no facilities so make sure you bring your own food and also make sure you take your own trash with you when you leave (always).
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Playa Punta Carola – Ecuador
If you decided to choose a DIY trip in the Galapagos over a Galapagos Cruise, worry not because there are plenty of amazing things to do in the Galapagos Islands even if you don’t take a cruise. You can check out the difference in my post on DIY vs Galapagos Cruises to learn more.
Spending a day in Playa Punta Carola is one of the amazing and free things to do in San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands.
You start with a beautiful walk from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the main town. You will pass through local homes, and along a beach that is dominated by the presence of a crowded population of sea lions the funny inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands.
You will then get to the Playa Punta Carola beach, also populated by these local creatures which will have a lot of fun to watch.
But worry not because they are neither frightened by you, nor will bother you anyway. It’s a peaceful co-living situation which is one of the highlights of the Galapagos Islands experience. In fact, the Galapagos wildlife is known to be absolutely undisturbed by the human presence.
From Playa Punta Carola you can swim and snorkel by coral reefs where you will be most likely to encounter sea turtles and other colorful fishes.
The highlight of this beach is the spectacular sunset that you will be watching.
The beach is absolutely free and you can enjoy it after exploring the nearby areas and lookouts.
Palomino – Colombia
by Alexander van Ravesteijn from travelyourmemories.com
Palomino is a coastal village in the north of Colombia loved by tourists and locals alike for the laidback atmosphere and beautiful beach.
Lined by towering coconut palms and lush vegetation, Palomino beach will allow you to take long walks or just bask in the sun and relax while enjoying the untouched nature surrounding you. Make sure you stay on the right side of the beach which is much nicer and less crowded.
But this picturesque resort town is not just beaches, and there are many other activities to enjoy in Palomino, including tubing. It’s a great circuit that starts off in the Sierra Nevada mountains and finally ends at Palomino Beach while cruising through the Colombian jungle.
Also if you are into surfing, Palomino has great waves to challenge yourself.
Palomino is easily reached by bus from Santa Marta. It’s the same bus that goes to the more popular Tayrona Park.
The small village has plenty of places to eat. A couple of recommendations are 7elmar, where you can order the best fish dishes from Palomino.
At Bitacora they only serve the best dishes when it is very busy and the waiting time is quite long. If you are tired of waiting you can find a pizzeria across the street.
If you were dreaming about spending the night on a beach, this is your chance because in Palomino you can book a room on the beach for a reasonable price. Great accommodations are Makao and Villa Eden which are laid-back luxury hotels on the beach. However, your budget is lower you can stay at Casa Colibri which is located in the village.
Rincon del Mar, Colombia
Julien Casanova from Cultures Traveled
Long sandy beaches stretch along this corner of the sea located about three hours south of Cartagena. But the beaches are not the only reason you should visit Rincon del Mar, Colombia. While this local fishing village has become a popular destination for travelers, it has managed to maintain its community feel.
As I walked along the unpaved streets in the evening, I saw residents gathered for conversation and a casual game of chess. Then I turned onto the beach and I found myself in the middle of a children’s soccer game.
During the day you can lounge in the sun until your heart’s content and feast on a seafood lunch from one of several beachside restaurants.
The beaches in Rincon del Mar feel as casual as the town itself. They are generally open and lined with a mix of homes, restaurants, and accommodations. And it’s possible to enjoy a more secluded beach day on the south end where the beach curves along the tree line.
The best time to visit Rincon del Mar is December through March when the oppressive heat and humidity are at the lowest.
And I highly recommend staying with Dania and Daniele of Dos Aguas Lodge. Getting to Rincon del Mar involves taking a bus from Cartagena and a moto-taxi from San Onfre (luggage and all). But once you’ll arrive you realize this special corner of the sea is worth it.
The Beaches of Iquique Chile
By Maeghan Anderson from Packing up the pieces
Located in the north of Chile and in the heart of the Atacama Desert, Iquique boasts more than one sandy beach. This city is often called “the Miami of Chile,” with its funky street art, incredible seafood, pedestrian-friendly streets, and overall chill vibe.
While one of the most popular beaches in the sprawling Playa Cavancha, the never-ending coastline provides hidden gems throughout the entire city. Stroll the extensive boardwalk past beaches, parks, and benches to take it all in.
With a desert landscape, there are plenty of unique things to do in Iquique, other than just chilling at the beaches. Paraglide off of one of the sandy hillside dunes.
There are nearby treasures that you can explore with short day trips like exploring the UNESCO Site of the Mining Ghost town of Humberstone or relaxing in the Pica hot springs. Don’t leave the city without eating at least one seaside meal at Caleta Riquelme, or the Iquique Fish Market.
Walk to the back of the market to see the large sea lions waiting not so patiently for scraps.
Iquique is tucked away in the underrated north of Chile, but it can be accessed by travelers crossing from the Peru border into Arica. Respectively, Iquique is a long bus ride from the popular desert oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama.
The coastal city of Antofagasta is over 300 miles to the south. Budget backpackers will love sleeping at Aotea Hostel Iquique, with its awesome kitchen and small pool; however, there are many guesthouses and big name hotels to choose from.
Iquique’s easygoing vibe and sandy desert beaches has a way of luring in travelers and slowing them down to savor every sunset.
Rabida Island Beach – Ecuador
The beach on Rabida Island is a very unique beach in the Galapagos that you can only reach if you join a Galapagos Cruise. Its uniqueness lays in its incredibly bright red color that you won’t find anywhere else, at least in Ecuador.
From the beach, you can also take a short walk and explore the surrounding nature and local birds such as boobies, pelicans, and flamingoes. But it’s also possible to snorkel around the coast.
As I mentioned before, the only way to visit the island is by joining a Galapagos Cruises. There are different kinds of cruises with different itineraries. So if you want to visit Rabida Island make sure it’s included in the itinerary. Eden Galapagos Cruise boat is one of the few that includes Rabida Island but not in all its itinerary.
Don’t think that going on a Galapagos cruise must necessarily be expensive. There are many options of any kind and prices nowadays. And if it’s not in high season you may be able to find some special offers. If you want to treat yourself and are willing to splurge, you can choose among these amazing luxury Galapagos Cruises instead.
Costeno Beach, Colombia
from Bailey from Destinationless Travel
Costeno Beach is easily one of the most beautiful, and popular, beaches in Colombia. Nestled on the Caribbean Coast not far from the city of Santa Marta, this white sandy beach looks like something from a postcard.
Its remote location means you can relax here with only the sound of the ocean – no vendors or restaurants here!
But it isn’t just the beach’s beauty that makes it special, it is actually the things to see and do at the beach that make it a destination all on its own.
Costeno Beach Hostel opened in 2016 right on the beach, and this hostel is a destination all on its own with some of Colombia’s best parties.
The hostel also features a stunning Balinese-style pool, huge bar and restaurant, multiple levels to enjoy ocean views, as well as yoga classes and surf lessons. The truth is, many travelers come to Costeno Beach simply because of this hostel.
There are a couple of other places to stay nearby too if the hostel isn’t your style. Regardless of where you stay, you’ll enjoy this picture-perfect beach and ideal surf waves.
Playa Cabo San Juan in Colombia’s Tayrona National Park
Bailey from Destinationless Travel
Playa Cabo San Juan is a special beach in Colombia located in the stunning Tayrona National Park. What makes this beach so “special” is actually the fact that it is the best place to stay the night within Tayrona National Park.
People come from all over the world to experience the beauty of Tayrona, and the best way to see it for yourself without being rushed is to stay one night (at least) in the park surrounded by nature. The best place to rest your head? Cabo San Juan beach, of course!
Here you can choose from basic cabins, tents, or even hammocks to sleep in. There is a restaurant here as well as a small shop selling everything from beer to sunscreen and everything in between.
Cabo San Juan is a white-sandy beach surrounded by palm trees with calm water – perfect for swimming. In fact, it is one of the only beaches in Tayrona National Park that is suitable for swimming. This alone makes it a popular spot to spend your time in the park.
At Cabo San Juan you’ll enjoy the calm turquoise waters during the day, and then a colorful sunset at night. The beach is located about a 2-hour walk from the park entrance gate El Zaino.
The hike is easy and beautiful and an attraction of its own showcasing diverse landscapes and wildlife. But if you prefer, a boat can also be arranged from the city of Santa Marta.
Playa Spratt bight
When looking at any list of fantastic beaches to visit in South America it is hard to ignore that Playa Spratt bight is one of the most idyllic formations of sea and sand that you can visit.
You can bathe in the turquoise blue warm water or walk further out into the ocean without one wave in insight, and the views of Jhonny cay island are just incredible.
Not only is this exquisite beach one of the most popular things to do in San Andres for people looking to relax and unwind, but it is also suitable for people of all ages including families. You can rent a chair, a tent, and even order one of the famous Coco Loco cocktails all without moving a muscle.
A few steps along on soft white sand and you’re at the boardwalk where you have a line of restaurants, bars, and street vendors from which you can find music and food as well as buy all your daily essentials.
Playa Spratt bight is the main beach on San Andres island and one of the only beaches on the island that caters to all your needs. San Andres is on is Colombian territory but it is actually situated in North America.
You have to pay a tourist tax to get on the island, and in most cases, you will need to travel to mainland Colombia to get there first with the cheapest indirect flights from both Panama and Miami.
All in all, Playa Spratt bight offers you the perfect beach setting when you want to escape the city life and experience one of South America’s best beaches.
Anakena Beach, Easter Island
Vicki from Vicki Viaja
The Polynesian Islands are well known for their breathtaking beaches and year-round tropical climate. However, many people completely forget that also Easter Island, which politically belongs to Chile, geographically belongs to Polynesia.
Although the island’s beaches are unlikely to be the main reason for a vacationer to this unique island, that doesn’t mean that Easter Island doesn’t have some incredible beaches to offer. One of those great beaches is Anakena Beach.
This small beach offers fine white sand and clear and warm water. Just like a dream beach is supposed to be. Since the beach is relatively small and there is only a couple of beaches that you could add to your Easter Island Itinerary, it is worth coming here early in the morning to enjoy some relaxation before the area gets crowded.
Anakena Beach is located about a 30-minute drive from the island’s capital, Hanga Roa. You can best reach the beach by renting a car.
There is a free parking lot just a few meters from the beach. Here you can also buy some snacks, refreshments, or beach accessories. If you don’t want to drive yourself, some tours take you to the beach and back to the city center every day.
As usual for Easter Island, you can also admire a few of the fascinating Rapa Nui heads, called moai, on Anakena Beach.
Nina Ragusa @ Where in the World is Nina
Olon, Ecuador is often overlooked by its popular party town neighbor, Montañita. Montañita sits only ten minutes north of the quiet little surf town of Olon.
It’s where you can find tons of restaurants, surf, go to all-night parties, and it’s even where the major grocery store is!
However, for those wanting to seek refuge, have literal miles of sandy shores with hardly anyone there, and room to surf for everyone, Olon is the spot. The town is unassuming, with a small town square, a nice selection of eateries including nice cafes and a couple of bakeries, and a good blend of local and foreign hang-out spots.
Aside from escaping the party scene of the sister town, people love coming to Olon to learn Spanish and surf!
It’s really the perfect place to relax and learn as there honestly isn’t that much else to do in town. Nobody complains though, that’s the charm of Olon! The top spot to combine Spanish and surf is Outdoor Ecuador.
They are the kindest, coolest people and their Spanish and surf teachers are top-notch. Not to mention their rates are very reasonable, you’ll surely want to stay awhile to really learn! The surf is super beginner friendly but experts will have fun here too! It’s a beach break and the beach really goes on for miles.
The best time to visit is December through February but even during the rainy months, it’s often at night so it won’t ruin your day.
For an awesome stay right on the beach, the Sea Garden House is a great choice. Olon is very easy to reach from Guayaquil, just head to Terminal Terrestre and grab the bus from there, it’s about $6 one way.
Make sure you don’t get off at Montanita as that will be the first stop! The whole town is walkable and if you did want to head to Montañita for the day it’s a cheap $1.50 taxi ride to get there.
Porto da Barra beach – Brazil
As one of Brazil’s best beaches, it is not hard to see why Barra Beach is popular with both locals and tourists in Salvador de Bahia. This beach does not only have many historic elements with its age-old lighthouse and historic fortress, but it is perfect for surfers looking to get in on some wave action.
As one of the most popular things to do in Salvador de Bahia the attractive soft sand and exuberant atmosphere make the beach very crowded during the weekend, especially on Sundays.
On the hottest days, you can rent out a chair and umbrella to protect yourself from the sun, and there are beach vendors that will take care of all your refreshments needs, allowing you to put your feet up and relax with a coconut.
If you’re feeling peckish, and you don’t feel like moving, look out for the tasty queijo assado (grilled cheese sticks) that pass you by, they get roasted right before your eyes on the beach.
If you’ve had enough of watching the Atlantic ocean waves and want to make the most of your visit, you can find the Bahia Naútico Museum nearby, and even a modern Shopping center that has a mix of upmarket restaurants and local eateries.
For anyone on the lookout for a South American beach with more to offer than sand and sea, Barra Beach opens a world of opportunities to see, do, taste, and more.”
Praia da Lagoinha do Leste – Florianópolis, Brazil
by Anna, GreenMochila.com
Praia da Lagoinha do Leste was the piece of coast that mesmerized me the most in Brazil. I’m not alone in this, as many Brazilians consider it their favorite too. And indeed it’s really special.
This South American beach, just outside the city of Florianópolis, sits at the end of a one-hour forest hike and is accessible only by foot. Therefore this beach is not for everyone, but those who make it will find a hidden treasure.
The walk through the tropical forest is already special in itself. I often stopped to observe magnificent trees and crazy ant convoys.
The humid air in the Southern summer months can make this hike pretty sweaty. But arriving at this almost-empty sandy beach and being surrounded by wild nature feels like paradise.
The coast offers not only excellent swimming and surfing opportunities but climbing the surrounding rocks filled me up with adrenalin and a great view of the whole area! Beach-goers can get their food and drinks from the town of Pântano do Sul, where the trail starts.
Florianópolis is the capital of Santa Catarina Island, in the south of Brazil, near attractive digital nomad destinations such as São Paulo or Curitiba. Florianópolis and its beaches are a popular summer destination for Brazilians from all over the country.
The summer months are January-March when the beach gets the busiest. However, I visited it in the off-season, when it takes on a more intimate air.
To get to the beach, take the bus from Florianópolis to Pântano do Sul and start walking East; there are signs and you can ask locals too. You can also go by boat from the town’s beach.
Playa Las Docas – Valparaíso, Chile
Overlooking the immensity of the Pacific ocean, Las Docas is a remote sandy beach just a one-hour drive south of Valparaíso, Chile.
Although it’s rather secluded, many young Chileans go there from neighboring “Valpo” and even from the capital Santiago. We were brought there by our friends during our backpacking trip in Chile.
It’s not exactly a party beach though, more like a sleepover one. Imagine staying over at some friends’ and camping in their garden.
Las Docas is the beach version of that, with many other tents all around. Some people play music or listen to the radio; others play ball or climb the surrounding rocks; many swim, picnic, drink Chilean wine and watch the sunset like we did.
We advise you to bring your own food and drinks from town; there’s a kiosk on the beach and several others nearby, but they’re locally famous for their outrageous prices.
To get there, you’ll need a sturdy car, some strong driving skills, and a good GPS. The path down to the beach is steep, narrow, and at parts sandy. It can be a bit of a challenge to leave after a cold night in a tent (it gets particularly chilly during the Southern winter, in June-August).
There’s cheap parking right on the beach, or you can leave your car at the top of the path, but that leaves you with quite a walk.
Despite the many people, there’s a soft, almost community-like atmosphere on this beach; especially when the night comes and surrounds a pattern made of remaining embers and a few electric lights.
Praia de Lopes Mendes, Brazil
By Or from My Path in the World
If you want to visit one of the most beautiful beaches in South America and can extend your Rio de Janeiro itinerary, head to the nearby Ilha Grande, an incredible Brazilian island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There’s no shortage of pretty beaches on the island, but an unmissable one is Praia de Lopes Mendes, a 3-km-long white sand beach that will make you feel like you’re in paradise.
From a distance, the water seems beautifully turquoise, but when you get closer, you see how crystal clear it is. Along with the backdrop of forested hills and mountains, the scenery couldn’t be dreamier.
Like other beaches on the island, the easiest way to get to Praia de Lopes Mendes is by boat. Speed boats leave regularly from Vila do Abraão, the main town of Ilha Grande, where the boat from the mainland arrives and where most of the hotels are located.
They drop you off near Pouso Beach, from where you’ll need to walk for a few minutes to get to Lopes Mendes (be sure to bring walking shoes or sandals for this short journey).
There are no facilities/services on the beach, so bring everything you need with you (but take into consideration that short walk).
Ilha Grande has tropical weather, which means it can be hot and rainy at the same time, but if you visit around February, you’ll get to enjoy Praia de Lopes Mendes in all its glory.
Nuqui Choco Colombia
In a very secluded and untouched part of Colombia, you find Nuqui Choco, a small town and municipality on the west coast. It is surrounded by jungle, the Pacific Ocean, rivers and streams, and beaches.
If you want beach experiences that leave you virtually alone, then you should not only explore this region but stay at Il Cantil Lodge.
It is not easy to reach Nuqui Choco or El Cantil Lodge which is one of the reasons that makes this destination so special.
First, you have to fly one hour by twin turboprop plane from Medellin to Nuqui Choco. Then, you have to travel one hour by speed boat to reach Il Cantil Lodge.
Once you leave Nuqui Choco and during that hour, you barely see a house, a hut, or a person.
However, if you plan to spend time in Medellin during your time in Colombia, you would only need 3-4 days from your Colombia itinerary to make this destination worthwhile.
El Cantil Lodge and its beaches are so isolated that it describes its location as “south of Nuqui…bordered by Cabo Corrientes (to the south) and the Utría cove (to the north)…latitude 5º 37’28¨; longitude 77º 25 ‘09.2¨.”What you find is hundreds of meters of sandy beaches nestled against jungles.
You can paddleboard or surf for hours every day. However, one of the best things to do is whale watching. From June – November, thousands of humpback whales swim along the shores.
Another amazing activity is to walk along the beaches awe-struck by your isolation and the stunning natural beauty. Occasionally, you stumble across a very small village which is fascinating to see. One such place is Thermales, where you can spend your day soaking in thermal springs.
Accommodation at Il Cantil is sustainable and very basic – no electricity, hot water, windows, screens, or wifi. The food is mostly fish freshly caught each day from the shores of the lodge.
You pay a flat rate per day and it includes all your meals. The summer months are normally January, February, March, and mid-August, and the rest of the time, you will find most days with some rain.
It is suitable for people of all ages and in particular, people looking to immerse themselves in nature and tranquility.
Taganga – Colombia
Yaren and Antoine from Bug In Our Bag
This small beach town has one of the best beaches in Colombia: Taganga is a beach town on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is a great place to visit for those who enjoy mountain landscapes as well as the beach.
You can visit both of the beaches of the town on the same day. The main one is Playa Grande and it is more suitable for people who want a livelier atmosphere.
The other one is called Sisiguaca and people who enjoy snorkeling at a calmer beach would love it. When you are in Taganga, don’t forget to try the fish as it is caught on the same day by the local fishermen. Fresh fish is available all around the town.
The dish also includes Arroz de coco (coconut rice) and patacon (fried bananas) which are specialties of the region.
Many people stay in Santa Marta and go to Taganga as a day trip as it is only twenty minutes away. You can take a taxi for 12,000 COP or the local bus for 2,000 COP.
We recommend Distrito Hostel in Santa Marta as it was very central, comfortable and the staff was great. If you want to stay in Taganga, there are many hostels and hotels in the area as well. All things considered, Taganga is one of the most popular beaches in Colombia because it simply has it all!
Copacabana – Brasil
from Victoria by Guide Your Travel
The Copacabana is arguably one of the most famous beaches in the world. This pristine white-sand beach is the star of Rio de Janeiro and attracts thousands every day.
Especially during the popular Carnival Season the Copacabana is crowded with people and a hotspot for parties. This is not the beach for a quiet afternoon though.
It’s almost always busy and the perfect spot to have a cocktail or beer in the sun. If you’re not looking for a beach party you can also walk along the Copacabana or go for a run as you enjoy the scenery.
The beach has a stunning backdrop of jungle-covered mountains and great views of the surrounding houses.
One of the most iconic parts of this beach is arguably the pattern on the promenade. The black and white swirls are recognized worldwide as being from Rio de Janeiro and have inspired numerous artworks.
Of course, there are lots of beach bars and restaurants to be found on this famous strip of sand. Have a fresh coconut to cool down or go for lunch in an authentic Brazilian restaurant which always involves lots of grilled meat. In the evenings this is a great spot to enjoy the sunset.