Venturing to the best beaches in South America will provide you the opportunity to combine pristine shores with authentic culture for the ultimate vacation setting. Whether you’re in search of lively atmospheres or the serene silence of lesser-known locales, the southern continent’s coasts have it all.
Picture yourself marveling at a whale breaching from shore, take in the scene at an iconic beach, or just indulge in pure seaside relaxation. From Brazil’s turquoise waters to Chile’s wildlife-filled coastline, paradise awaits. Pack your swimsuit and start planning your trip to the best beaches in South America.
Known for its annual Carnival, the city of Rio in Brazil has many claim-to-fame attractions, including its beaches.
Copacabana Beach is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most famous beach destinations. The wide stretch of sand is accompanied by the promenade, buzzing with life.
Take in the view of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Fort Duque de Caxias while strolling the white sand. Go for the sun and sand, stay for the atmosphere. Get ready to check this one off your beach bucket list—it’s known as one of the best places to visit in South America for a reason.
Playa de Reñaca, Chile
One of the best beaches in Chile, Playa de Reñaca is situated in the resort town of Viña del Mar, just outside of Santiago, making it possible for a city/beach combo day.
At the beach, you can enjoy marvelous views of the coastline, take surf lessons, and even see sea lions sunbathing. Plenty of bars and restaurants will keep you fueled up for whatever beach activities you choose to enjoy.
La Herradura Beach, Chile
In La Serena, you’ll get your beach fix with a side of history. La Herradura Beach is a cove setting ideal for swimming or unwinding with a good book just 14 kilometers from the city.
If you need a little break from the beach scene, there are a plethora of activities to keep you entertained in the cultural city center of La Serena too. The Mamalluca Observatory, Plaza de Armas, and Jardin del Corazon are popular attractions to explore while fulfilling your cultural cravings.
Geriba Beach, Brazil
Just east of Rio de Janeiro lies a dash of beachside luxury; enter Buzios. Upscale resorts dot stunning beaches in this picturesque locale that was once a traditional fishing village. The only hard part will be choosing between the many amazing beaches to visit.
Geriba Beach is a windsurfer’s sanctuary. With its wide-open natural layout, this lively stretch of sand is perfect for spreading out and hunkering down for a while. Snack and souvenir vendors are available if you’re interested in trying a local treat such as oysters or sweet corn. Water sports provide ample opportunity to play in the inviting water.
Playa Brava, Uruguay
This is Punta del Este’s go-to spot for adventure-seeking surfers and to snap that iconic shot of La Mano sculpture, a giant hand emerging from the sand as one of Uruguay’s most famed attractions. The wide expanse of beach has a restaurant and gift shop as well.
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Ferradura Beach, Brazil
Another option in Buzios is this horseshoe-shaped bay nestled by the region’s postcard-worthy hills that aren’t just pretty to look at, but also serve as some solid wind protection.
If a quiet oasis is what you’re in search of, you’ll find it here. Calm and warm shallow waters are ideal for dipping, and rental services are offered for chairs and umbrellas, bringing the comfort level to a solid ten out of ten.
Playa El Laucho, Chile
The city of Arica, Chile, is famous for its seemingly constant pleasant weather and is home to one of the top South America beaches. Skirted by the gorgeous Andes Mountains to the east, Arica is a haven for surfing enthusiasts.
Playa El Laucho is a popular beach frequented by locals and perched at the edge of the city. Accessible by public transportation, this top destination for swimming and lounging is an ideal spot for beginner surfers due to the calmer waves in comparison to areas nearby. Various refreshments are available as well to bring your Chilean beach experience full circle.
Praia da Armação, Brazil
This white-sand beach and picturesque view will have you kicking yourself if you forget your camera (so don’t). The vast Praia da Armação is popular for lounging and swimming in the blue waters, and the island accessible by bridge is filled with natural coves and rocks that will bring out the explorer in you.
The village of Buzios brims with quaint shops and restaurants if you’re looking to dust off the sand and grab a bite to eat. All that exploring is bound to make you hungry.
Joao Fernandes Beach, Brazil
Joao Fernandes Beach is a paddle boarder’s paradise in Buzios complete with crystal clear turquoise waters. Plenty of amenities make this spot perfect for spending a good portion of your day.
Laze in your beach chair, feet in the sand, with music playing in the background and pinch yourself…you’re enjoying one of South America’s best beaches.
Praia do Julião, Brazil
A treasure located a mere three hours from the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ilhabela is an island chock-full of beaches, rainforest, and those Brazilian tropical vibes we know and love.
Praia do Julião is quite possibly Ilhabela’s most well-known beach. When you swim, lounge, sip a caipirinha, or gaze at the scenery while indulging in some fresh seafood, you’ll see why.
Little to no waves make this an easy choice for serene swimming, especially for families with younger children.
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Bonete Beach, Brazil
Bonete Beach is an ideal destination for nature-lovers in Ilhabela. Accessible by boat or hike, this relatively untouched hidden gem is worth the effort.
If you choose to venture by foot, the 12-kilometer hike will reward you with natural rock water slides along the way, bridges, and a beautiful view of a beach paradise when you arrive.
The old apricot trees by the beach will be the cherry on top. If your legs are too tired for the jaunt back, you can arrange a boat for the return trip.
Playa La Liserilla, Chile
Another beach option in the desert landscaped city of Arica is the neighboring Playa La Liserilla, a perfect spot for cooling off with a dip in the water and an ice cream on land. This protected cove is lined with restaurants, where you can try local seafood the region is known for. It’s a great family-friendly option.
The vibrant Brazilian city of São Paulo might be loaded with cultural and culinary delights, but it also serves as a jumping-off point for one of the best beaches in South America: Maresias.
Nestled on Sao Paulo’s northern coast, this beach is near São Sebastião. If you choose to make the two-and-a-half-hour trek from the port city of Santos, beach volleyball, surfing, and a lively nightlife will greet you.
Here’s Rio, serving up another of South America’s most iconic beaches, so it wouldn’t be a successful round-up without it. This full-of-life beach can almost always promise music, soccer games, tourists, cafes, and boutiques, not to mention world-famous sunsets.
Embrace the soul of Rio de Janeiro at this top spot. Beware that you may have the song, ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ stuck in your head while visiting, though.
El Murciélago Beach, Ecuador
Known for hosting surf and bodyboarding events, El Murciélago Beach in Manta, Ecuador easily earns its place in the best beaches in South America line-up.
You can partake in activities galore, embark on a boat ride, and cap it all off with some stellar seaside dining. Try the tuna, which Manta is known for.
Playa Mansa, Uruguay
The upscale resort town of Punta del Este, Uruguay is frequented by many famous people and is the place to soak up the sun and be seen doing it. Other than rich cultural attractions like the city’s museums, the shopping scene is vivacious as well. The beaches, however, are a must visit.
One of the best beaches in Uruguay, Playa Mansa is just outside of the city center and a popular destination for sunbathers. The unique “wave” bridge feature adds a bit of extra fun to the experience as well. Make sure to catch a sunset for an epic light show over the Atlantic Ocean.
Read: An Insider’s Guide to Punta Del Este, Uruguay
Playa Larga, Argentina
Head to the southernmost tip of South America and discover Ushuaia, Argentina, otherwise known as the gateway to Antarctica. Discover its natural beauty through national parks and beaches.
Playa Larga, part of the nature reserve, offers gorgeous views of the city and bay, overlooking the Beagle Channel. You can explore the forest hiking trails, enjoy a picnic in a picturesque setting, or gaze at some of the best glaciers in South America. This beach excursion is the perfect daytime adventure.
Playa El Doradillo, Argentina
Tucked on the northern coast of Patagonia, Puerto Madryn, Argentina is known for Welsh traditions and wildlife spotting. If you’ve always dreamed of spotting whales, then this city might just make that wish come true.
At Playa El Doradillo, you could see dolphins and whales swimming close to shore without even getting on a boat. Get ready to have your breath taken away at this amazing sight.
With a large array of ports, you can choose any of these South America beaches to explore with a luxury cruise to South America. Off-the-beaten-path coves, azure waters, sunset drinks, nature trails, and wildlife spotting are all possible when you set out to uncover these dazzling stretches of sand by cruise ship.
Ready to get kissed by the sun at some of South America’s best beaches? Browse itineraries on our website and book your next vacation in paradise.