Beaches of South America: Colombia vs Brazil

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September is just around the corner, and for most of us that means the beginning of autumn: shorter days, colder temperatures and the reappearance of our woollens. So let’s look ahead to the next opportunity for sun-filled holidays, by taking ourselves to the beaches of South America – in particular, Colombia and Brazil, two of the continent’s prime destinations for summer breaks, what with their long and beautiful coastlines. Keep reading to find out more about some of the best beaches of South America, Colombia vs Brazil, to give you a little inspiration for your next escape from the cold.

Buzios, Brazil

In the south of Brazil, there lies swathes of golden sands that make for some of the best beaches in South America, unfolding for mile upon mile along the Atlantic Coast. Within this region you’ll find Buzios, a glamorous peninsula just a couple of hours’ drive from Rio de Janeiro, making it a favourite weekend hangout for city dwellers. Buzios was made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, and ever since people have come from far and wide to luxuriate on the peninsula’s 30 beaches, hit the bars and restaurants and stay at some seriously chic boutique hotels. Linger over breakfast as you ponder the sea views, before strolling through town or finding the perfect spot on the sand – you can even have a go at watersports, with surfing being a particular highlight here.

Casas Brancas, Buzios, Beaches of South America

Casas Brancas, Buzios


Caribbean Islands, Colombia

Meanwhile, in Colombia, a scattering of islands emerges from the glowing waters of the Caribbean, with postcard-perfect landscapes that never fail to stun visitors. The islands of San Andres and Providencia are in fact closer to the Nicaraguan coastline than that of Colombia (800km away), with a fascinating cultural identity that spans influences from the British to Spanish, infused with some pirate history and a strong sense of Caribbean pride. Aside from the simply stunning beaches here – all sugar-white sand, coconut trees and the odd rum shack – you can dive or snorkel to coral reefs beneath the sea, venture to old pirate hangouts and dance to the tunes of reggae music; perhaps cycle around the islands or just soak in your hotel’s swimming pool for as long as you please. What’s more, if you don’t want to take the flight to reach San Andres and Providencia, opt for a day trip to the Rosario Islands, a little archipelago off the coast of Cartagena where you can still enjoy the sweet Caribbean life for a day.


Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

If it’s remote island life you’re after, Brazil has something up its sleeve too – Fernando de Noronha. This collection of 21 islets is strewn 350km off the northeast coast of Brazil, made up of 21 islands with only one being inhabited. This main island is striking to behold, with its distinctive volcanic peaks soaring up from turquoise sea, pristine beaches all around, and populations of endemic animal species that make it a real nature haven. It’s rumoured that Charles Darwin himself stopped at Fernando de Noronha on his great Beagle expedition! Go scuba diving or snorkelling to get up close to some of these creatures, such as Sea Turtles, Dolphins and Reef Sharks. Otherwise, simply relax on the sand; the Praia de Leão, Baia do Sancho, and Baia dos Porcos were all voted as three of Brazil’s top beaches!


Pacific Coast, Colombia

However, Colombia can also do wild and wonderful beaches in South America, particularly on its relatively unspoilt Pacific Coast. This is one of Colombia’s lesser-visited regions, but for those in the know it provides a beautiful and raw beach escape, awash with sandy beaches, thick jungle, and dramatic cliffs. You can stay at laidback eco-lodges, take to the water on a surfboard, and explore the mangroves of Utria National Park – perhaps spying local residents like the Jaguar, Cougar, Giant Anteater and Sloth. Amazingly, Colombia’s Pacific Coast is on the migration route of Humpback Whales, so head out on boat tours to see them up close between July and November. And, if that weren’t enough, another incredible wildlife experience on Colombia’s Pacific Coast is the chance to witness Sea Turtles hatching on the beach. Rugged landscapes, empty beaches, wildlife sightings: the Pacific Coast has a lot to offer when it comes to amazing beaches in South America.


Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil

On the other hand, for something just a bit different, head to Brazil’s northern coast and prepare for a natural phenomenon at Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. Here, 260km from the city of São Luís and up to 50km inland from the Atlantic Ocean, undulating sand dunes rise and fall for mile upon mile into the distance, as far as the eye can see, punctuated with pure blue waters that twinkle in the sunlight and beckon you in. Every year, strong winds heave the sand up from the coast and shape it into these rippling dunes, with nearly 50 inches of rain falling over the year and subsequently collecting in lagoons that plunge as deep as 10ft. Forget infinity pools, your typical beach or any other kind of swimming spot; to bathe in the waters of Lençóis Maranhenses is a totally unique experience. There are countless lagoons found at the bottom of sand dunes in this national park, so all you need to do is take your pick and jump in!

Lencois Maranhenses, Beaches of South America

Los viajes del Cangrejo, “IMG_4441” [CC BY 2.0]


Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Finally, we conclude our article with a Colombian national park and beach haven: Tayrona, an unmissable highlight of Colombia. There’s not one but many things that make Tayrona National Park so special, starting with those impossibly perfect beaches of powdery sand, lapped by azure waves and blissfully untouched. Its national park status protects it from overdevelopment, so you can spend your days hiking through tangles of rainforest, clambering over rock boulders and finding shade beneath a palm tree to sit and read your book in peace. What’s more, there are ancient ruins hiding in the jungle, built by the Tayrona people centuries ago, and a small selection of eco-lodges that provide rustic-chic accommodation, befitting of the natural setting in which they are found.

Tayrona National Park, Beaches of South America

Surtrek, Tayrona National Park


What’s your verdict for beaches in South America – Colombia or Brazil, or both? Start planning your trip by choosing from any of our template tours, handpick the hotels and activities you want, adjust the durations depending on how long you want to stay in each place, and have fun in the process! Surtrek is always at hand to help out. Call us on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK) to talk to an expert, and Discover Your South America with Surtrek!

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