Brazil has some of the sexiest, swoon-inducing, stretches of sand in the world. Glorious beaches fringe much of the country’s 7500 km-long coastlines, from the steamy tropical coast in the north to the sweeping strands of silvery sand near the southern Argentinean border. Brazil is one of the world’s hottest beach destinations, with chic low-key resorts, coral reefs and superb surfing. Here is our pick of the best beaches in Brazil.
1. For a city setting: Ipanema - one of the most popular beaches in Brazil
Visit the far southern end for an early breakfast in buttery yellow light. Then, grab a chair at one of the simple beach shacks and order an ice-cold, freshly-cut coconut and an energising açai berry sorbet.
On this tailor-made trip to Breathtaking Brazil, you will explore the lively city of Rio de Janeiro, home to Ipanema and Copacabana beaches; experience the stunning Foz do Iguaçu National Park and see the world’s largest waterfalls system.
2. For a luxurious beach holiday: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
One of the most renowned beaches in Brazil, Copacabana was originally an isolated area, cut off from Rio by mountains until 1892 when the Túnel Velho link with Botafogo was inaugurated. The open sea soon attracted beachgoers, though Copacabana remained sparsely populated until the splendid Neoclassical-style Copacabana Palace Hotel opened its doors,
Copacabana is amazing, the over-the-top atmosphere apparent even in the mosaic pavements, designed by Burle Marx to represent images of rolling waves. If Copacabana is nowadays past its prime, it’s still an enjoyable place to sit and watch the world go by, and at night on the floodlit beach football is played into the early hours.
This tailor-made trip to Brazilian Beaches begins at Foz do Iguaçu, where you will stand in awe of the huge Iguaçu Falls. Next up, we'll head to the lively city of Rio de Janeiro, home of the legendary Copacabana, Botafogo and Flamengo beaches, and of course, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.
- For Ipanema beach: Che Lagarto Hostel Ipanema
- For location and city views: Windsor Florida Hotel
Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro:
3. For a tropical paradise with turquoise waters: Sancho beach, Fernando de Noronha
The staggeringly beautiful and environmentally protected archipelago of Fernando de Noronha lies in the equatorial Atlantic some 545km from Pernambuco and 350km from Natal. Boasting some of the most stunning beaches in Brazil, it’s also hard to beat for snorkelling and scuba diving.
The largest and only inhabited island, Ilha de Fernando de Noronha is just 10km long and much of it also falls within the park boundaries. The main settlement is Vila dos Remédios, surrounded by a few smaller villages, linked by one main road. The most famous beaches – all pristine tropical paradises with turquoise waters – lie inside the park: Baía dos Porcos, Praia do Leão and Praia do Sancho.
Cruise through the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago and discover the natural beauty of the 21 islands that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site on this 5-hour catamaran tour.
4. For an island getaway: Cacimba do Padre, Fernando de Noronha, Pernambuco
Fernando de Noronha island is a pinnacle of crumbling granite fringed with pristine coral reefs and set in the deep ocean an hour’s flight off Brazil’s northeastern coast. The entire island is ringed with some of the most fabulous beaches in Brazil – many of them protected as turtle-nesting sites.
Cacimba do Padre is the most spectacular, a kilometre-long broad stretch of soft downy sand, set between craggy headlands pounded by powerful, tubing surf.
5. For fresh-water wading: Pesqueiro Beach, Ilha do Marajó, Pará
Not all beaches in Brazil are saltwater. Pesqueiro sits on Marajó island – a sandbank the size of Denmark at the mouth of the Amazon River. It’s mind-numbingly vast – running the length of a European country to the north, broken by tiny fishing villages with stilt houses, caiman-filled mangrove swamps and towering Amazon rainforest.
And it’s washed by a gentle, fresh-water river-sea which flows broad and deep into the Atlantic and a distant horizon, turning the ocean mineral water sweet for almost a hundred kilometres offshore.
- For a friendly atmosphere: Pousada O Canto do Francês
- For spectacular views: Pousada Vila Joanes
Where to stay on Ilha do Marajó:
6. For mountainous backdrops: Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro state
The mountains of southeastern Brazil’s Atlantic forest drop into an emerald-green ocean in a run of verdant ridges, rising again offshore as a ripple of islands. The most beautiful of these is Ilha Grande, or Big Island. As it's covered in tropical forest and has no roads, transport to the island’s myriad marvellous beaches is by brightly-painted fishing boat or walking trail.
Lopes Mendes is around two hours trek from the island’s only village Abrãao, on a path that cuts up into monkey-filled trees, then drops onto the sand through a series of tiny, balmy bays, and finally cuts into Lopes Mendes itself – a wild, three-kilometre strand sitting in the heart of the island’s protected state park.
Embark on a scenic adventure through nature on the beautiful Ilha Grande. Take a private guided trek through its best beaches and reach Feiticeira Waterfall, then enjoy some cocktails or soft drinks.
7. For lavish luxury: Trancoso, Bahia
Trancoso is a boho beach village clustered around a square of old Portuguese cottages and a tiny church, sitting on a high sandstone cliff between the rainforest and tens of kilometres of long, empty golden beaches. Over the last decade, it’s become the playground for Brazil’s off-duty jet set.
Supermodels and their sun-kissed celebrity cohorts flock here for New Year, staying in barefoot luxury at a string of effortlessly cool boutique resorts. You can spot them in the evenings – fine dining al fresco under the stars and dancing the samba into the small hours at beach bars. Or you could ignore them altogether and find an empty beach all to yourself. There are plenty to go around.
8. For a secluded holiday: Taipus de Fora, Bahia
Isolated out on the tip of the Península de Maraú, Barra Grande is a blissfully untouched village at the heart of vast tracts of sandy beaches and the pristine waters of the Baía de Camamu. Things are changing, but for now, the village retains a rustic appeal hard to beat – there’s little to do but lounge on the sands or hike along the beaches.
Most pousadas are located in Barra Grande village itself (where the ferries come in), while Taipús de Fora is a 7km strip of palm-fringed beach (20min drive south of Barra), facing an incredibly rich reef on the Atlantic side of the peninsula, with pools forming at low tide (you can also stay here).
9. For sand dunes: Jericoacoara, Ceará
Strong prevailing Atlantic winds have swept sand off the broad pink-and-white beaches into towering dunes, which roll far inland, enclosing shallow saltwater lagoons and marshes. The views from the dune crests are stunning, with golden sunsets fading over the sands into shades of brilliant red and pink.
And the reliable winds, placid sea and myriad lagoons have made Jericoacoara a favourite spot among kite- and wind-surfers weary of the crowded Mediterranean. Surfing here is easy – the town has a string of board rental shops, almost all of which offer classes for kite- and wind-surfers of all levels.
10. For superb views: Santos Beaches (Gonzaga), Sao Paulo
Santos’s beaches are across town from Centro on the south side of the island, twenty minutes by bus from Praça Mauá.
Alongside the beach, facing the Baía de Santos is Gonzaga, where the town’s hotels are concentrated, as well its shopping malls. A lot less interesting than the town centre, it is nonetheless here that you are most likely to end up staying. The neighbourhood’s main landmark – aside from the beach – is a huge statue of the early nineteenth-century revolutionary politician, Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Andrada e Silva.
Welcome to a lavish tailor-made journey to Blissful Brazil that marries adventure with style, featuring stays in carefully chosen four-star hotels. This reinvigorating trip will have you sightseeing in São Paulo, gazing at the spectacular Foz do Iguaçu falls and relaxing on the finest beaches in Brazil before you know it.
- For B&B: B&B Hotels São Paulo Luz - Centro
- For price and quality: Hotel Amália
Where to stay in Sao Paulo:
Read our guide and find the best accommodation options to stay in Sao Paulo.
11. For a laid-back atmosphere: Praia do Campeche, Santa Catarina Island
Praia do Campeche is a beautiful beach located on the southeastern coast of Santa Catarina Island in Brazil. This picturesque beach is renowned for its clear waters, soft white sand, and impressive waves that attract surfers from around the world.
The beach offers various activities such as hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and beach volleyball. In addition, Praia do Campeche has a lively atmosphere, with several bars and restaurants where visitors can enjoy delicious local cuisine while taking in the stunning ocean views.
12. For solo travellers: Praia da Pipa, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte
A popular target for independent travellers, Praia da Pipa (“Kite Beach”) is set in truly idyllic surroundings, south of Ponta Negra, with crystal-clear lagoons, pristine beaches, dolphins regularly swimming near the shore and a wealth of appealing pousadas and bars.
The main action takes place on 1.5km-long Praia da Pipa itself, with smaller Praia do Amor around the headland to the east best for surfing. A short walk to the west lies cliff-lined Baía dos Golfinhos – where the dolphins come in most mornings – and beyond that Praia Madeiro, a popular spot for beginner surfers.
- For natural surroundings: Pousada Mãe Natureza
- For boutique stays: Paua Hotel Boutique
Where to stay in Pipa:
13. For bright-water beaches and natural pools: Porto de Galinhas, Ipojuca
The coast south of Recife has the best beaches in the state, especially Porto de Galinhas, a once scrappy fishing port that has been transformed into one of the most well-known beaches in Brazil. Further south lies the enticing village of Tamandaré, which – for now at least – remains a much sleepier place.
The days of Porto de Galinhas, 65km south of Recife, being a sleepy fishing port are long gone. It’s now a popular beach resort, with pedestrianized streets, shops selling beachwear and souvenirs, gorgeous palm-fringed strips of sand and several luxurious hotels and pousadas. From the main Porto beach jangadas will take you out to the small, natural coral pools just off the coast, and there is some excellent surfing at Maracaípe.
- For beach location: Pousada Maracabana Spa
- For families: Hotel Village Porto De Galinhas
Where to stay at Porto de Galinhas:
14. For the perfect day trip: Praia dos Carneiros, Tamandaré
Some 57km south of Porto de Galinhas (by road), fishing still dominates the village of Tamandaré, with jangadas drawn up on the beaches and men repairing nets, though even here weekend houses for city slickers are becoming common.
Around 8km to the north lies Praia dos Carneiros, a spectacular and deservedly popular beach, with a selection of attractive pousadas and restaurants and the picture-perfect Capela de São Benedito framed by coconut palms.
- For beach location: Apart Hotel Marinas Tamandaré
- For attention to detail: Hotel Coral Beach
Where to stay in Tamandaré:
Praia dos Carneiros, Tamandare, Brazil © Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr under CC BY-ND 2.0 license
Looking for more beach holiday options in South America? Explore our list of the best beaches in Uruguay.
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