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The 11 Best Beach Destinations in South America

South America is not the most sought-after continent when it comes to vacation at sea. Still, more and more tourists realize that South America offers many paradise-like destinations. You can find here quiet fishing villages, plenty of beautiful hidden gems, hippie towns with their own charm, or cities where the fun never ends.

To help you find the ideal beach town in South America, we decided to create a list. But how to determine those "best"? When putting together this list, we considered features like, e.g., the overall beauty of the beach, the accessibility from the city, the beauty of the natural environment, cleanliness, romantic surroundings, or the availability of fun activities.

So if you want to find the perfect seaside town, you can have a look at our list of the 11 best beach destinations in South America. If you would like to explore the region more thoroughly, or if you would like to travel somewhere else, you can use our search tool, which will rate and order cities according to the criteria you picked.

1. Búzios

Búzios is among the best of Brazil's beach destinations. This resort town was most notably popularized by French actress Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, and from then on, more and more people visit Búzios every year.

2. Rio de Janeiro

The city of the biggest and most spectacular carnivals in the world, samba dance, and statue of Christ the Redeemer is famous among tourists also for its friendly people, charming monasteries, magnificent views, and beautiful sandy beaches. One thing is sure, though. You will never be bored in Rio. With excellent hiking possibilities, a non-stop stream of great cultural activities, superb museums, and stunning parks, your every visit to Rio de Janeiro will be too short. Rio has even been named UNESCO’s first World Capital of Architecture for 2020.

3. Morro de São Paulo

This Brazilian paradise offers some of the best beaches in South America, fantastic food, and many fun attractions like ziplining, surfing, whale-and-dolphin-watching trips, scuba diving, or snorkeling.

4. Florianopolis

Florianopolis is a popular tourist destination thanks to several beautiful sandy beaches, live music performances, charming architecture, fascinating history, and many opportunities for an adventure. Once there, we recommend you to try surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving, paragliding, taking a boat tour, or go hiking.

5. Fortaleza

Fortaleza is a popular seaside destination, mainly among Brazilians. Lively markets, fine beaches, and vibrant nightlife are among the top reasons why so many tourists decide to spend their time here every year.

6. Punta Sal

Punta Sal is a quiet seaside village and beach resort in Peru. If you look for a quiet place where you can simply chill on the beach and enjoy romantic sunsets, Punta Sal is the right choice for you.

7. Mancora

This Peruvian beach town is a popular destination for surfing and recreation. It is also known for beautiful sunshine-filled days and bluebird skies, bustling nightlife scene, beach parties, fantastic food options, mud baths, and many fun attractions for kids, as well as for adults.

8. Recife

Recife was founded in 1537 and was the first slave port in the Americas. Today, it is a major tourist city in the Northeast of Brazil thanks to its historical sites, colonial charm, lovely beaches, plenty of various events during the year, relaxed atmosphere, and impressive churches. Also, thanks to many rivers and bridges, Recife is sometimes referred to as "The Brazilian Venice."

9. Vina del Mar

Vina del Mar is great for outdoor activities, has a romantic promenade, boasts with delicious cuisine and lovely beaches, and has a large variety of festivals. We recommend you to combine your trip with visiting Valparaiso.

10. Punta del Este

"The Pearl of Uruguay," "The Monaco of the South," or "the St-Tropez of South America." All these nicknames Punta del Este deserves. You can find here luxurious hotels, casinos, charming white-sand beaches, lively nightlife, and it is an excellent place for various sports activities.

11. Santos

Santos is the city where Pelé spent most of his career lives with football. But apart from experiencing authentic football culture, be sure to visit a Coffee Museum, Coffee Stock Exchange, incredible botanical gardens, Santos' aquarium, or relax on the beach.