10Best: Beautiful South American Beaches

  • El Cabo San Juan Beach in Tayrona National Park, Colombia

    El Cabo San Juan, or Cape San Juan in English, sits in the heart of Tayrona National Park on the coast of Colombia. Beach-goers willing to tackle the 1.5-hour hike to the beach will be rewarded with a little slice of paradise. Many visitors choose to rent a hammock for the night and camp out by this beautiful beach.

    Photo courtesy of DC_Colombia

  • Montañita, Ecuador

    Located on the Ruta del Sol in Ecuador, the beach town of Montañita offers world-class surfing with a chill rasta vibe. On the long stretch of sand, you'll often spot dreadlocks-sporting surfers, locals playing soccer or volleyball and visitors from around the globe lounging in the sun with a cocktail or ceviche in hand.

    Photo courtesy of mariaflorine/Flickr

  • Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande, Brazil

    It takes a bit of effort to get to Brazil's Ilha Grande, or Big Island, but the effort is worth it for the whiter-than-white stretch of sand known as Lopes Mendes Beach. Fine sand, blue water and palm trees stretch for nearly two miles, without a bit of development in sight.

    Photo courtesy of Anderson Mancini/Flickr

  • Punto del Diablo, Uruguay

    When Argentines and Uruguayans head for the beach, they often head to Punto del Diablo in Uruguay. As with other surf towns in South America, "Devil's Tip" has a distinctly bohemian vibe and offers a much more modest beach escape than the flashier Punto del Este (also in Uruguay).

    Photo courtesy of Marc Veraart/Flickr

  • Jericoacoara, Brazil

    Otherworldly Jericoacoara, located near Fortaleza in Brazil, often sees travelers coming for a weekend and staying for a month. While much of the water there is too shallow for swimming, the beach is met by towering sand dunes that face West – one of the few coasts in Brazil to do so – making it a popular location to climb and watch the sun set over the ocean.

    Photo courtesy of fredcardoso

  • Joaquina in Florianopolis, Brazil

    Florianopolis, or Floripa as locals call it, has dozens and dozens of beaches to choose from. At stunning Joaquina, it's all about surfing and sand dunes. During the South American summer, visitors flock to the beach, where sand-side restaurants serve cocktails (caipirinha anyone?) and fresh seafood at tables right in the sand.

    Photo courtesy of Felipe Reis/Flickr

  • Los Roques, Venezuela

    Los Roques is a chain of islands in the Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela, and no matter what beach you choose, you really can't go wrong. With hundreds of coral reefs inside Los Roques National Park, the snorkeling and diving are both spectacular, if you can pull yourself away from the sand, that is.

    Photo courtesy of capiotti/Flickr

  • Anakena Beach on Easter Island, Chile

    While few (if any) visitors to Chile's Easter Island come for the beach, they'll find a pretty nice one on Anakena Beach, a stretch of white sand beneath the shadow of six of the island's famous moai. Visit in the morning before the other tourists arrive, and you'll have the beach largely to yourself.

    Photo courtesy of gydyt0jas

  • Gardner Bay on Espanola Island, Ecuador

    Come to the Galapagos for the wildlife, but stay for the beaches. At Gardener Bay on Espanola Island, you'll find yourself sharing the powder-soft sand and turquoise water with Galapagos sea lions who like to warm themselves in the equatorial sun. Snorkeling from the beach is also excellent.

    Photo courtesy of putneymark/Flickr

  • Mancora, Peru

    Located in the sunniest region of Peru, Máncora Beach is lined with open-air restaurants and bars with the ocean to one side and a desert to the other. Good waves and breezy conditions attract traditional and kite surfers, but in the summer, plenty of Peruvian and international visitors come simply to enjoy the sun and sand.

    Photo courtesy of Sandrinne Dias/Flickr