Best Brazil Beaches

Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil Beaches Guide

Brazil beaches are year round useable(except for the distant south part of the country where winters are chilly) with 4, 578 miles of coastline loaded with dazzling stretches of soft sand and a coastal culture that centres on beach activities.
The best time to lounge on Rio beaches is around December if you really like a lot of company and heat or May-October for better, cheaper conditions. See below for more precise regional weather reports.
Beware travelling Brazil in the summer holiday December-February (school holidays and Carnival time), when domestic transportation and accommodation can be expensive and difficult to find. Also at that time temperatures can reach 40C, too hot for comfort even if you are on a beach.

Generally Brazilian sand is white and fine, the sun shines, prices are low and local people are fun-loving and friendly. The water, however, is the Atlantic Ocean, so will often be rough, with strong currents, a steep drop off and not very warm, unless protected by a reef. Careless tourists drown regularly!

Beaches in and around Rio de Janeiro – Best Season

Weather and crowds: Best May-October though rain can visit anytime. Avoid December-March due to crowds, expense and excessive heat.

Rio: Copacabana

This is the world’s best city beach with 4km of surprisingly spotless wide white sand. Copacabana is relatively cheap, with friendly, lively locals. Plenty of accommodation, restaurants and outrageous night clubs. A great place for volley ball, and is the home of ‘futevolei’ (foot volley ball), too. Fun for people watching especially if you favour huge bottoms.
The down side is that you have to be cautious about thieves: use common sense – no watches, no jewellery, no smartphone or cameras – well, maybe a compact to catch the scene.
If you like a little more sophistication go south next door to upmarket Ipanema.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ipanema Beach, Rio.

Rio: Ipanema and Leblon

Home of the bikini and tangas – tiny bikinis – affluent Ipanema and Leblon are adjacent and similar but slightly smaller, more chic, relaxed and probably safer than Copacabana. There is a family-friendly ambience and even a meeting area for mothers and babies. Soft white sand and cool blue water.

Beaches not far from Rio, north and south

Weather and crowds: Best May-October though rain can visit anytime. Avoid December-March due to crowds, expense and excessive heat.

Buzios, 90 miles (155kms/2-3 hours drive) NE of Rio

Originally a fishing village, Armação dos Búzios is now a small, colourful but extremely hip and lively town on a peninsula packed with 22 fine beaches (Praia Brava is currently glitterati destination #1) and not a lot of people on them. Buzios came to fame when France’s famous beauty, Brigitte Bardot, hung out there in the 60’s.

Angra dos Reis

90 miles (153 kms/2-3 hours drive)south of Rio, on the Costa Verdebetween Rio and Sao Paulo.
If you want an escape from Rio, the Costa Verde is an attractive region to explore. One of the most scenic stretches along the 175-mile coastline between Rio and Sao Paulo, the tropical forest spreads down to the ocean, with broad bays, golden sandy beaches and small fishing villages.
There are fine resort hotels, villas, trendy restaurants and clubs.
Angra dos Reis (Kings’ Cove) is the best beach of the area and one of the most untouched beauty spots in the country.

Ilha Grande

Also about 90 miles south down the coast and and 1. 5 hours out lies this delightful little no-vehicle island, with rainforest interior, a small number of guest houses, shops and beach-shack restaurants in Abraao, and spectacular beaches all around. Take a bus/drive from Rio to Angra Dos Reis (see above, 2-3 hours) and a ferry to the island (1. 5 hours).

Santos Beach Gardens

45 miles south of Sao Paulo.
The town of Santos has a beautiful 4 mile beach garden, reckoned by locals to be the largest garden in the world. It stretches from Ponta da Praia, ferry port from another well-known beach resort called Guaruja, to Sao Vicente, the oldest town in Brazil.

Itapua beach near Salvador, Brazil

Itapua beach is a short ride from Salvador in northeast Brazil. Photo by Hermann Luyken.

North Brazil Beaches

Weather: Avoid April-June/July due to rains.

Salvador, many beaches, Bahia state

An attractive, vibrant colonial city established in 1549 this is a large (3rd largest in Brazil) but lively place with a pretty old town on a clifftop, a buzzing, thumping music scene, excellent beaches on both sides – such as Barra, photo below – and many kilometres of superb, deserted stretches of sand accessible by bus or car to the north, starting with Itapua, photo above.

Praia da Barra in Salvador at Carnival time, Brazil

Praia da Barra in Salvador at Carnival time, one of the most popular beaches in/around the city. Photo by Luan.

Ilha de Tinharé

The seashore on this little island off the coast of Salvador is one of the prettiest in Brazil.
Neighbouring beaches, Ondina and Rio Vermelho, host Salvador’s most expensive resort hotels, while Rio Vermelho has some of the city’s best bars and music.
Going north along the Orla Marítima are many restaurants, clean white sand, and in the north, the Lagoa de Abaeté, a black freshwater lagoon.

Caraiva

This massive beach is popular with neo-hippies and other beach lovers of a liberal persuasion and focuses on Trancoso’s bouncing beach bars and endless activities.

Praia do Forte resort, north of Salvador

Praia do Forte beach, Salvador, Brazil

Praia do Forte is a small fishing village 50 miles north of Salvador along the Coconut Highway coast road.

This old fishing village has been reconfigured as a laid back, downmarket resort. It encompasses more than 8 miles of superb sandy beaches and natural pools and is surrounded by thousands of square miles of wild nature. Among the many cheap and cheerful little hotels is Brazil’s first eco-resort, Praia do Forte Eco Resort – deluxe but low key – lurking by the best sandy bit in the area, and offering various eco tourist programmes such as bird-watching, and the ‘Projeto Tamar‘ turtle sanctuary. It’s 1. 5 hours from Salvador.

Natal, Rio Grande Norte state

Natal is inelegant but ‘the city of the sun’ sees more than 300 days of sunshine a year and has some of the best stretches of sand in South America, including good lively city beaches – but beware the surf.
Just out of town the seaside gets better with the prettiest area being Ponta Negra bay (10km away), and Pipa beach (80km away) – so lovely that dolphins visit regularly to admire it.
In addition Rio Grande do Norte has a more than 40 other great beaches, in particular Pirangi, Jacuma, Maracajaú, Galinhos. And by the way, wild buggy rides over the huge dunes seem to be a big attraction in this area.

Fortaleza, Ceara state

Fortaleza has a modest, mediocre city beach but hundreds of miles of superb wild coast either side of it, with dunes, palms, wild water and not much else.

Jericoacoara, Ceará state(300kms west of Fortaleza)

Sunset Dune, Jericoaquara, Ceara, Brazil

Sunset Dune, Jericoaquara. Photo by M. Martins

Jericoacoara, aka Jericoaquara or Jeri as it’s known to the cognoscenti, is increasingly fashionable with both local people and with hard-travelling, neo-hippies for its absolutely massive lengths of totally natural beaches, sand-dunes, cliffs, spectacular sunsets and relaxed but reasonably developed support system (e. g. cold beers and bug-free beds).
Jeri beach was recently named as one of the world’s top ten most beautiful beaches by the Washington Post newspaper in America.
Jericoacoara beaches are also known for windsurfing, horse-riding and dune buggy excursions, though the town is hell to reach – 5 hours by road from Fortaleza airport followed by an hour of lumpy sand track in a 4WD. Poor access is, of course, what has protected Jericoacoara from the curse of concrete.

South Brazil Beaches

Weather: Best November-April. Avoid wintertime from June-September due to cold.

Florianopolis

Joaquina beach in Florianopolis offering pretty good surf, Brazil

Joaquina beach in Florianopolis offering pretty good surf. Depending. . .

464 miles (746 kms) south of Rio lies the fabulously scenic and beach-strewn island of Ilha de Santa Catarina (aka Florianopolis), 54 kms long and reached by a couple of bridges from the mainland.
The island features pleasant Florianopolis town, several dozen superb Brazil beaches, pine forests, sand dunes, mountains and lakes. The best beaches are on the east coast (excellent for surfers), the least developed in the south, but the calmest waters and tranquil bays are to be found in the slightly crowded north island.