Ultimate Guide to South American Beaches

If there is one region in the world that truly embodies the summer vacation vibes and atmosphere, that region would be South America. When people think of the different countries in the said region like Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, and Argentina, most of them will think about those countries’ beaches. So, if you are looking for beaches to visit during your summer vacation, then head to South America and see their beaches’ crystal clear waters and pure white sands.
Because of how many beaches there are in South America, we know that you may have a challenging time finding the perfect beach for you and your travel companions to enjoy. So, in order to make it much easier for you to find a suitable beach, we are here to give you a guide on the best beaches in South America. Included in this guide is what you need to bring before heading to South America, as well as some details for each beach that we mention on the list. Without any more fuss, here is the ultimate guide to South American beaches.

What to Bring to the Beaches in South America

The countries in South America can be extremely hot, so it is important that you bring lighter clothes that are breathable so that your shirt won’t get soaked in sweat. In addition, you should also bring sunglasses, as the mornings and afternoons on South American beaches can be bright as well. Aside from those, here are some other essential items that you need to bring with you to South America.
Passport
Visa (if necessary)
Beach Hats
Swimsuits (may be needed if the beach doesn’t allow regular clothes)
Beach Umbrella
Beach Towel
Waterproof Case for Smartphones
Essential Toiletries (Shampoo, Soap, Toothbrush, etc.)
South American is surrounded by rocky terrain, so you may also want to bring some hiking boots in case you need to hike or walk on a trail to get to a certain beach. For other essential items that you should bring to the beach, consult our Essential Beach Packing List guide.

The Best Beaches in South America

Whether you want to swim in turquoise beaches or just do some sunbathing on the white sand, South America has you covered. In addition to swimming, there are also many more activities that you can do on the beaches of the region, but it is up to you if you want to try those or just stick to relaxing under the sun. Here is a list of some of the best beaches in South America.

Ipanema Beach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

 

beach

The most popular beach not only in Brazil but also in South America is arguably Ipanema Beach, which is also the most beautiful beach that you can visit in the region. Contrary to popular belief, Ipanema Beach is already a well-known tourist spot even before the song “The Girl from Ipanema” became a hit. Located in the marvelous city of Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema Beach features a vibrant atmosphere that is filled with tourists enjoying the

various activities you can do on the beach, including playing a local game called “frescobol” that has similar rules to tennis.

Where to Stay Near Ipanema Beach

Because Rio de Janeiro is always filled with tourists, there are many hotels right near the beaches in the city. While lodgings and room rentals can be cheap and suitable for those on a tight budget, we advise tourists to just stay in mid-tier or luxury hotels so that they will be safer. Here are three of the best hotels near one of the Top Beaches of South America.
Promenade Link Stay
Novotel Rio De Janeiro Barra Da Tijuca
Blue Tree Premium Design Rio de Janeiro
When you visit Ipanema Beach during the middle of the summer, particularly from March to May, there would be way too many people on the beach that you may not be able to enjoy the scenery that much. We recommend that you visit the area between December to February so there wouldn’t be a lot of people and you can have an easier time booking accommodations at hotels.

Playa Blanca (Cartagena, Colombia)

 

playAa beach

Playa Blanca is one of the many beautiful beaches you will see in Cartagena, the city located in the northern region of Colombia. Most of the beaches in Cartagena, although they are still beautiful, are not on par with the stunning scenery that Playa Blanca provides. The beach has white sands and crystal blue waters that will surely entice you to swim. In addition to swimming, you will also be able to hop on a speedboat or go on a boat tour to see some dolphins nearby.

Where to Stay Near Playa Blanca

While there are only a few lodges in Playa Blanca, there are many hotels where you can get accommodations around Cartagena. So, you shouldn’t really stay in Playa Blanca for long, as you will need to get to downtown Cartagena or nearby regions again and back to your hotel room. Below are the three great hotels in Cartagena.
Casa India Catalina
Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena
San Pedro Hotel
Much like in Rio de Janeiro, if you want to avoid crowds, we recommend that you go to Cartagena between December and March. Right around April, many tourists will flock to the city, so get there earlier than them and enjoy your vacation without many people on the beach. To know more about Cartagena and its home country, check out our Interesting Facts about Colombia article.

Cabo Polonio (Uruguay)

Called “the most unconventional village” in Uruguay, Cabo Polonio is quite different from all other beaches on this list, as the beachfront hamlet has little to no electricity, running water, and roads. So, if you want to spend your vacation without worrying about what is happening through your phone and just relax under the sun while enjoying the scenery, then you may like going to Cabo Polonio. The simple lifestyle that the locals have in Cabo Polonio is infectious, and you will soon be able to appreciate at least one or two days without looking at your smartphone and just connecting with your travel buddies and even the locals.

Where to Stay in Cabo Polonio

Despite having a simplistic atmosphere, there are plenty of hotels in Cabo Polonio that will provide you with comfortable rooms and great customer service. However, don’t expect that the hotels would have electricity all day, so you may need to bring a handy flashlight if you want to go around town at night. Here are some of the best places to stay in Cabo Polonio.
La Perla del Cabo
Narakan Cabo Polonio
Cabo Polonio Hostel
There are not a lot of tourists that are willing to have a simplistic lifestyle with no electricity and running water while on vacation, so Cabo Polonio may be the most peaceful tourist spot on this list due to how few people visit the location. Whatever time or month you go to Cabo Polonio, it would always be perfect. But you may need to have some hiking boots if you want to explore the hamlet since there are no roads and the land is heavily sprinkled with rocky terrain.

Tortuga Bay (Galapagos, Ecuador)

torque

Unlike all of the beaches on this list, you aren’t allowed to swim in Tortuga Bay, a stunning location found in the Santa Cruz Island of the Galapagos Province in Ecuador. The main reason why people are prohibited from swimming in Tortuga Bay is that the white sand and the clear waters are reserved for the wildlife living within the island. So, all you can do in Tortuga Bay is to take pictures (with no flash) of the various creatures living within the bay and be mesmerized by how beautiful and amazing they look.

Where to Stay Near Tortuga Bay

Because people are not allowed to stay in Tortuga Bay for long periods of time, there are no hotels within the bay and Santa Cruz Islands. However, the nearby islands within Galapagos, where swimming is allowed, have plenty of hotels where tourists can get rooms. So, if you plan on going to Tortuga Bay, you may also want to explore the other islands in Galapagos if you have the budget. To make it easier for you to look for hotels, here are the names of the three best ones in the province.

  • Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel
  • Galapagos Habitat by Eco Luxury Group
  • Angermeyer Waterfront Inn

Tortuga Bay is open all year, although you can only visit it from 6 am to 6 pm. It is best to book a boat that will take you to Tortuga Bay early so that you won’t have to compete with other tourists as to who will be able to get to the bay on specific days.

Cayo de Agua (Los Roques Archipelago, Venezuela)

cayo

The Los Roques Archipelago is the location for one of the most amazing islands in South America, Cayo de Agua. This island is part of the Los Roques National Park, an area within the Los Roques Archipelago that is preserved by the locals to maintain its beauty. What’s unique about this island compared to other locations mentioned in our list

is that it has fresh water wells, which is also where the name of the island comes from. Because of the island’s close proximity with neighboring keys or small islands, it forms a natural swimming pool that is shallow enough for kids to swim in.

Where to Stay Near Cayo de Agua

No hotels and lodges exist in Cayo de Agua, but you can get rooms to stay in at various hotels and lodges at the neighboring Isla del Gran Roque. Here are three places that offer the best accommodations for tourists.

  • Posada Lagunita
  • Posada La Cigala
  • Macanao Lodge

Anakena Beach (Easter Island, Chile)

anakena

Easter Island is usually known for its mysterious statues called “moai” that are erected in various areas of the island. According to historians, these moai statues were created by the Rapa Nui people, an indigenous tribe that has Polynesian origins. However, aside from the unusual statues, Easter Island is also famous for being the home of one of the most wonderful beaches in South America, Anakena Beach. Anakena is located within the Rapa Nui National park and features a palm grove and a car park that is rather peculiar to have on the island. What’s interesting about Anakena Beach is that it is one of the only two sandy beaches on Easter Island, which is mostly made up of rocky coastlines.

Where to Stay Near Anakena

There are no particular places to stay in Anakena, but there are a handful of hotels that are scattered through Easter Island. Most of the hotels on the unique island are lodges that will make you feel like you are living a simplistic lifestyle, although they still offer comfortable rooms and various helpful services to make your stay more convenient. Have a look at the names of some of the best lodges or hotels on Easter Island below.

  • Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa
  • O’tai Hotel
  • Easter Island Eco Lodge

Easter Island is quite a busy tourist destination during the summer, so you may want to go to the island as early as spring or as late as fall so that you won’t be one of the tourists that may overcrowd the location in the warmest season.

Baia do Sancho (Fernando de Noronha, Brazil)

boio

Baia do Sancho is regarded by many travel websites and tourists as the best beach not only in South America but in the entire world. Its popularity among locals and foreigners is mainly caused by its sheer beauty, where its turquoise waters and pure white sand is so stunning to look at that you will stare at it for a few minutes before realizing that you haven’t even done anything for a while besides looking at a stunning view. Praised as one of the Top Beaches of Brazil, Baia do Sancho is located in Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago in Brazil that is also home to other amazing beaches like Baia dos Porcos, Dolphins Bay, Pig Bay, and Sueste Bay.

Where to Stay Near Baia do Sancho

Similar to many beaches on the list, there are no particular places to stay in Baia do Sancho, but there plenty of hotels and lodges within Fernando de Noronha, so you may need to walk your way from your hotel room to Baia do Sancho because of how far hotels can be from the said beach. Here are three great places to stay in Fernando de Noronha.

  • Dolphin Hotel
  • Noronha 350
  • Casa Swell Hostel

An interesting thing about Baia do Sancho is that the ones taking care of the beach only allow a specific number of tourists to go to it simultaneously, so it wouldn’t really get crowded during the times that the beach is open. However, this may also be a drawback for some, as getting there would require you to wait in line if there are many tourists that want to get on the beach too. Be sure to plan ahead of time when to visit Baia do Sancho so that you will have a hassle-free experience.

Tayrona National Natural Park (Santa Maria, Colombia)

tayrona

One of the most diverse locations in South America is the Tayrona National Natural Park in Santa Maria, Colombia, as it has not only beaches but also rainforests and mountains that are quite rare to be clumped together in one small area. In addition, the park is also home to more than 300 species of bird, 108 species of mammal, and 770 species of plants, making it one of the most biodiverse places in the country. While the waves are quite high and strong, there are certain areas within the park that are perfect for snorkeling and surfing.

Where to Stay Near Tayrona National Natural Park

Although there are no hotel rooms within Tayrona National Natural Park, you can get them in several hotels and lodges located to the east of the park. Below are the places where you will get the most comfortable rooms for you and your travel buddies.

  • Tayrona Paradise
  • Mama Tayrona Hostel
  • Bosques del Tayrona Ecohabs

Cariló (Argentina)

carlio

Cariló is a beach town located in Argentina that was once only accessible to the wealthy. However, to further improve the tourism in the town, Cariló is now publicly accessible. There are currently five beach resorts within the town, and these resorts are Cozumel, Chao Montesco, Divisadero del mar, Hemingway, and El Medio. You can rent a tent and a beach umbrella at these resorts, but to save money, you may want to set up your own tent or umbrella on the beach.

Where to Stay in Cariló

There are dozens of different hotels and lodges within Cariló, although the room rates can be pretty steep. One of the reasons why hotel rates are expensive in Cariló is that it would allow the ruling authority within the town to control how many tourists are visiting. So, by raising the prices of rooms and accommodations, only a few who are wealthy or have a high budget will be able to enjoy their vacation in the beach town. If you have the budget to stay in Cariló, here are a few of the best places to stay in.

  • Cariló Soleil Apart Hotel
  • Apart Hotel Ville Saint Germain – Cariló
  • Posada del Bosque Cariló

Off-roading, otherwise known as dune bashing, is a popular activity that you can do within the area, although you will need to rent an all-terrain vehicle at hotels and lodges to be able to drive through sand dunes.

Máncora (Piura, Peru)

tramonto

The once relatively quiet and sleepy town of Máncora is now a popular beach resort where thousands of tourists flock every day. The beaches in Máncora are particularly known for their high waves, which is why it is also considered as one of the Best Surfing Destinations in the World.

Where to Stay in Máncora

For such a small town, Máncora has a lot of hotels, resorts, and restaurants to offer for tourists. So, the town really prioritizes giving the best service and experience for their tourists, as tourism is their primary source of income. In fact, there are about 300,000 tourists that visit Máncora every year, which is quite a lot considering that the population of the town is only at 10,000. For convenience in finding a place to stay during your vacation, here are three popular hotels and lodges in Máncora.

  • Loki Máncora
  • Selina Máncora
  • Punta Pacifico Bungalows Máncora

The most visited beach in Máncora is Pocita de Máncora, located in the south and is considered by the locals as the prettiest one in the town. In addition to surfing and swimming, you can also enjoy partying in different nightclubs around the town, so this location is also perfect for partygoers.

Conclusion

Those are ten of the best beaches in South America, according to online reviews and recommendations by locals and tourists that frequently visit the said locations. It would be great if you can explore all the beaches and islands we have mentioned in this guide, but they are so far away from each other that you may need a relatively high budget to do that feat. But, if you can only manage to go to one beach, make sure that you watch and read reviews about that particular beach so that you will already know what it looks like before you even go there. Also, you should read our Beach Day on a Budget guide to learn more about how to properly budget your beach trip.

Best Beaches in the World