The Best Beaches in Brazil
If there is one destination known for its beaches, it’s Brazil. Rio de Janeiro alone has dozens, each as loud and lively as the next. From Carnival to the World Cup, the city is no stranger to showing travelers a good time, and this year is better than any to book a trip. The 2016 Summer Olympics kicks off in August and more than 380,000 spectators are expected to travel to the city for the games. That means tons of exciting activities and parties—many of which will take place on the beaches.
Now, if you’re reading this and thinking that loud music and boisterous crowds are the last things you want to encounter while on your beach vacation, don’t worry. Brazil’s shoreline is filled with secluded hideaways, some of which even require hiking through the forest to find. Once you venture out of the country’s major metropolitan areas, Brazil’s rugged terrain sets the perfect backdrop to the strikingly blue water.
You’ll want to grab your snorkel gear and perhaps a new swimsuit—Brazilians are known for their racy swimwear—before diving in. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter a sea turtle at Porto de Galinhas or catch a starfish at Praia do Forno. Additionally, multiple trails throughout the Atlantic rainforest lead to some of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches like Lagoinha do Leste. You’ll likely encounter monkeys and other friendly animals along the way.
Brazilians takes pride in the country’s beach culture. You’ll find people from all walks of life gathering on the sand at every point of the day. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what language you speak. In Brazil, the beach brings a sense of commonality to all.
Arpoador Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Known as the birthplace of surfing in Brazil, this beach is a haven for the active. Surfboards can be rented on the beach and a weight-lifting area allows locals and visitors to exercise under the sun. At dawn, grab a spot on the large rocks bordering the shore for an incredible sunset view. Those who stick around afterward can take to the water at night when spotlights illuminate the water.
Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha
This beach is found on Fernando de Noronha, a volcanic archipelago off of the country’s northeastern coast, and is widely considered the most beautiful in Brazil. Divers from all over the world travel here with the hope of encountering stunning underwater creatures like whales, green turtles, reef sharks, and clownfish.
Cacimba do Padre, Fernando de Noronha
This beach is one of the longest in this area, with more than a half a mile of soft golden sand. Sun worshippers lounge next to the clear, blue water, and the views of the island’s Morro Dois Irmãos rock formation can’t be beat. If you visit in the summer, you’ll likely find yourself surrounded by surfers, as waves are known to be the largest then.
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
If there is one beach that foreign travelers know by name, it’s likely this one—no, the Barry Manilow song is not about the beach, though the idea is thought to have originated at the Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio. The atmosphere is extremely vibrant with several beach bars and multiple sports facilities along the sand. Meet some locals and participate in a pickup game of volleyball or soccer (though obviously, they call it football here). A word to the wise: with popularity comes crowds. Be prepared to share this beach with plenty of other people.
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Another famed Rio beach, this lovely white sand is situated in one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. There are galleries, theaters, and high-end shops sprinkled throughout the surrounding area. On Sundays, take advantage of the weekly market where local vendors sell all sorts of crafts.
Jericoacoara Beach, Jericoacoara
Tucked at the tip of Jericoacoara National Park, this sandy oasis is known for its large dunes and seclusion. Electricity was brought to the area only about 20 years ago, and streetlights are still forbidden. This truly is a place to disconnect. Instead, entertain yourself with popular watersports: the winds responsible for the dunes make the beach a fantastic place to windsurf and kitesurf.
Lagoinha do Leste, Florianópolis
This hidden stretch of sand is situated on the island of Florianópolis and stays empty throughout the year. You’ll likely have the beach to yourself, but getting there is no easy feat. It’s only accessible by trails—some of which can take up to two and a half hours to trek—and with stunning views of the Atlantic rainforest and sandbanks, many visitors choose to pitch a tent and stay the night.
Lençóis Maranhenses, Santo Amaro do Maranhão
Not a beach in the traditional sense, Lençóis Maranhenses consists of a series of lagoons surrounded by towering sand dunes. During the year, rain fills the valleys between the dunes, creating lagoons with deep hues of blue and green. If you’re hoping for a swim, arrive between July and September, as that is when the water is the highest.
Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande
A few hours south of Rio, you’ll find Ilha Grande, an island void of paved roads and immersed in tropical forest. The island is dotted with beaches—the most impressive being Lopes Mendes. Getting there will require a small boat ride or trek through wildlife-filled trails, before you can kick back and enjoy the beach’s nearly two miles of golden sand.
Porto de Galinhas, Ipojuca
Arrive at this beach during low tide to experience snorkeling around the rock pools and reefs. You’ll encounter plenty of colorful fish, which are easily visible through the crystal clear water. If you visit between October and June, you may spot one of the many sea turtles that swim to the area for spawning.
Praia da Pipa, Tibau do Sul
Surrounded by rugged cliffs, this beach is genuinely picturesque. You’ll find a decent surf scene, dazzling views, and a laid-back attitude that has remained in place since surfers discovered the small fishing village in the 1970s. The water is also known to attract dolphins, which can be spotted in the distance.
Praia do Forno, Arraial do Cabo
This beach sits in a small bay a few hours north of Rio, where temperatures climb due to the lack of breeze—hence its name, which means “oven beach.” The fine sand has a reddish tint and the water is remarkably clear and shallow—making it a top destination for families. Grab the snorkel gear and keep an eye out for starfish.
Praia dos Carneiros, Tamandare
Those looking for a quiet beach with calm, warm water need not look any further. There are few waves here, and the beach stays free from excessively large crowds. On this white sand beach, palm trees line the shore and boat tours circle the wetlands. Experiencing the tranquility will come at a small cost, though: the private beach is owned by a family who charges a fee per vehicle.
Prainha Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Prainha Beach offers a nice alternative to the other hectic beaches in Rio. Here, the soft, white shore is surprisingly quiet and makes for a perfect afternoon getaway. Those staying in the city will want to take a taxi to the beach, as it’s not easily accessible by public transit.
Taipus de Fora, Marau
Visitors traveling to this beach come for the alluring turquoise reef pools, which appear with the receding tide. Strap on your goggles and head into the water to catch sight of a variety of tropical fish. After a dip, you can walk up and down the lengthy seashore while stopping for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants along the way.