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19 South American Beach Towns That Belong on Your Travel Bucket List

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By Alessia Barranca

Frugal Feature, Lifestyle

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South America has coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Caribbean Sea, which means it has beautiful beaches. If you are looking for new places to add to your travel bucket list, we take a look at 19 of the best beach towns in a culture-rich continent:

Mar del Plata, Argentina

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Nicknamed “La Feliz,” meaning “The Happy One,” Mar del Plata is a famous Argentine seaside resort town. It’s known for Belle Époque mansions, expansive beaches, and lively atmosphere, which locals and tourists enjoy.

Florianópolis, Brazil

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Brazilians are spoiled with beautiful white beaches, and Florianópolis, or Floripa, is one of the best. The town is popular with surfers and has a lively nightlife scene due to the young crowds it attracts. The Lagoa da Conceição saltwater lagoon is a popular area for boating and windsurfers, and Praia dos Ingleses has everything you need for a fun-packed vacation.

Jericoacoara, Brazil

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Jericoacoara is another popular Brazilian beach destination. Its towering dunes and crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkeling and kitesurfing. Walking around town, you will see colorful hammocks lining the lagoons, the perfect spot for lazy afternoons in the sun.

Natal, Brazil

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Natal is the capital of Brazil’s Rio Grande do Norte, a popular beach destination that attracts thousands yearly. With long stretches of golden sand and high dunes, riding a dune buggy and snorkeling in the transparent waters of Parrachos de Maracajau are popular activities in Natal.


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This island in the Caribbean Sea lies 29 kilometers from Venezuela’s coast but is a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Famous beaches include Eagle Beach, Palm Beach, and Arashi Beach, all enjoying year-round hot weather. Visitors like to tour the island by jeep during the day and visit beach bars and casinos in the evening.


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Curaçao is another Dutch island in the southern Caribbean Sea. It’s best known for its beautiful beaches, colorful architecture, and Queen Emma Bridge, a floating pontoon bridge that connects the two halves of Willemstad, the capital city. Aside from picturesque beaches and crystal waters, the top tourist attraction is Christoffel National Park, where you can spot wild pigs, iguanas, and deer.

San Andrés, Colombia

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San Andrés is a Colombian island in the Caribbean Sea. It is a relatively unknown destination, attracting primarily backpackers looking for a great scuba diving experience. The town has many Jamaicans, meaning reggae food and music are a staple on the island.

La Guajira Peninsula, Colombia

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The La Guajira Peninsula is a remote region in northern Colombia with a fascinating mix of desert, beaches, cacti, and sprawling plains. It is the place to visit if you are looking for a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, especially if you want to visit Playa Taroa, one of the most remote beaches in the world.

Pipa Beach, Brazil

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With gorgeous beaches within walking distance of each other, great diving, and the opportunity to spot dolphins at Baía dos Golfinhos, Pipa Beach is one of Brazil’s hidden gems. The area around Pipa Beach is home to numerous hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the coastline and rainforests, so there is something for everyone.

Santa Marta, Colombia

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Sitting at the foot of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, Santa Marta is the oldest surviving city in Colombia. People visit it for its historical significance and because it boasts some of the best beaches in South America. The fusion of indigenous, African, and European influences is evident in the city’s music, food, and festivals.

El Tunco, El Salvador

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El Tunco is a haven for surfers, especially beginners, as the waves tend to be consistent. If surfing isn’t your thing, you can relax on the black sand beach and soak up the sun. The main town has only two streets, but you can get everything you need for lazy summer days. Monkey La La on the beach is an ideal spot to watch the sunset with a beer and a Pupusas (stuffed tortillas).

Montañita, Ecuador

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Montañita is a small beach town on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and laid-back surfer vibe. Nighttimes come alive with the sounds of salsa, merengue, reggaeton, plates of ceviche, and a cocktail or two.

Mancora, Peru

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Mancora is a charming beach town nestled on the northern coast of Peru, renowned for its stunning beaches. It’s a popular destination for travelers seeking relaxation and a taste of authentic Peruvian culture. Playa Pocitas is the best swimming spot, and Playa Vichayito is popular with paddle boarders.

Buzios, Brazil

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Buzios, also known as Armação dos Búzios, is a Brazilian resort town on an ocean peninsula east of Rio de Janeiro. The town has at least 20 beaches, including Ferradoura Beach, famous for watersports, and João Fernandes Beach, a lively luxury bar scene.

Spazurro, Colombia

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Spazurro is a small town on the Caribbean Sea in the northwest corner of Colombia. The town is far from the hustle and bustle of larger tourist areas, so beaches like Cabo Tiburon offer peace and seclusion. When you return, you can hire a boat to explore nearby islands and hidden coves and experience the rich Afro-Colombian culture.

Cartagena, Colombia

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Cartagena, also known as Cartagena de Indias, is a colorful city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. As well as stunning beaches, Cartagena’s walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the town is a significant tourist destination, it has a laid-back vibe for a chilled vacation.

Carilo, Argentina

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Carilo is a small town in Partido de Pinamar, Buenos Aires Province. It’s known for its lush forests and sandy beaches, which locals and tourists enjoy. Playa Carilo offers busy vacation vibes, while Playa de los Ingleses offers a more secluded day out.

Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

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Punta del Diablo (Devil’s Point) is an enchanting town on the eastern coast of Uruguay. Visitors love its impressive beaches and vibrant artistic spirit. During the off-season, the town transforms from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling summer resort.

Puerto Madry, Argentina

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Puerto Madryn is the gateway to the Valdés Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its abundant wildlife. Beyond whale watching, Puerto Madryn boasts beautiful beaches ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports like surfing, kayaking, and kitesurfing.