7 Best Beaches in South America

Mancora Idyllic beach at the north of Perú

Antonio Salinas L./Getty Images

The best beaches in South America are as diverse and beautiful as the continent's geography and its beaches each have a unique sense of character and beauty.

Whether it be a sandy paradise on the Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, or the ​Caribbean, they all make for a memorable vacation.

  • 01 of 07
    Ipanema beach walk in Brazil

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    A stunning location, this beach was immortalized in the song The Girl from Ipanema. It's known to be a place to meet and socialize, accordingly beer is sold all along the beach.

    Although there's plenty of room to bask in the sun and relax, Ipanema is full of life. Many locals from Rio de Janeiro spend their time playing volleyball, soccer, and footvolley, a combination of the two sports, invented in Brazil. Not only is this one of the best beaches in South America, it is probably the most well known.

  • 02 of 07

    Tayrona - Colombia

    Parque Nacional Tayrona in Colombia

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    Often listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Tayrona is located in Tayrona National Park just outside Santa Marta.

    Accommodations vary from luxurious cabins to simple hammocks near the beach. While many are content to lay on the beach or swim in the crystal clear water, hiking is also very popular as the park is also home to many monkeys, birds, and marine life.

    Most people visit Tayrona beach to relax after hiking the lost city, known to locals as Ciudad Perdida. Located in a very remote area of the jungle, this ancient ruin is pre-Inca and was abandoned during the Spanish conquest. Although local tribes were aware of its existence, it wasn't discovered by outsiders until the early 1970s when spotted from a plane.

    This is a hike for the hearty. There is a very rustic path to Ciudad Perdida that involves walking through high rivers and when travelers return they are often exhausted and looking for some time on this gorgeous beach.

  • 03 of 07

    El Agua - Venezuela

    Isla Margarita, El Agua

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    Located on the popular Isla Margarita, El Agua is a 2.5 mile stretch of beautiful white powdery sand. A hot destination, there are accommodations of all price ranges to satisfy vacationers and a variety of restaurants for food and drink in the area.

  • 04 of 07

    Mancora, Peru

    Mancora Idyllic beach at the north of Perú

    Antonio Salinas L./Getty Images

    In the North of the country, close to the Ecuadorian border, Mancora is the most popular Peruvian beach for vacationing Peruvians and travelers relaxing after hiking Machu Picchu.

    Once a small fishing town it's reputation for being a hot surfing spot is well known and the town caters to the surfing crowd while also offering classes for those interested.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Copacabana, Brazil

    Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

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    Brazil has so many beautiful beaches. Next to the very popular Ipanema beach, Copacabana competes as one of the most social beaches but wins the prize when it comes to big events as it's a popular destination for concerts and Carnaval celebrations.

    Fortunately, with their close proximity, you can visit both and choose for yourself. But don't bring anything of value with you as if you leave something with your towel when you go in the water you may find it's gone when you return.

  • 06 of 07
    Montanita Beach

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    A small coastal town in Ecuador, Montanita was once a small fisherman's village but has quickly become known as an international surfing destination.

    Montanita has a reputation for being a party town and is very popular with backpackers for its affordable hostels. If you're looking for something a bit more low key head to Canoa, where you'll find more local surfers and fewer binge drinkers.

  • 07 of 07

    Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

    Cabo Polonio beach

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    For something a little different, Cabo Polonio offers an untraditional experience as it is not accessible by road.

    Famous for its sand dunes, Cabo Polonio defines off the beaten track, the dunes are too deep for cars so many walk, horseback ride, or take large trucks. The population in this fishing community is very small but a couple of hotels, cabins, and camping are available.

    The isolation is worth it as the beach is vast, beautiful and it's possible to see sea lions, fur seals, and sea turtles for part of the year.