Discover the Prettiest White Sand Beaches in South America
South America is high on the bucket list of many travellers. A beguiling landmass known for incredible biodiversity, lost civilisations, and the highest mountains in the world outside of the Himalayas, there are so many wonderful reasons to visit. Because of everything else that South America has to offer, it’s easy to overlook its outstanding beaches. However, you shouldn’t as some of them are seriously stunning.
In this post, we’ll take a look at eight of the prettiest white sand beaches in South America. They’re spread out across the entirety of the continent, so hopefully, you’ll find one close to where you’re travelling. Let’s check them out!
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Possibly one of the best-known beaches in South America, if not the world, Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema Beach is in the south of the city. It’s not just the beach that’s stunning, but its surroundings too – think Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado. In the stretch of sand that’s over a mile long, you’ll find locals playing footvolley (a combination of soccer and volleyball), or swimming and surfing in those beautiful blue waters. If you want to explore more of the area around Ipanema, take a ‘travessia’. That’s a stand-up paddleboarding session where you can paddle to a different beach (such as the Copacabana) or nearby island. It’s a great way to see Rio from the water, while also getting a great workout for your core.
Tortuga Bay Beach, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Wikimedia Commons by: Diego Delso
With everything there is to see in the Galapagos Islands, many tourists don’t make time to spend a day of sunbathing and chilling out on the beach. However, they should. Near the capital Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz (the main arrival point for many tourists to the island) you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of South America. Tortuga Bay is a short walk from the town and you’ll be rewarded with a white expanse of sand and turquoise waters. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, or stand up paddleboard is up to you. Just make sure not to step on any of the marine iguanas that call the beach home!
Anakena Beach, Easter Island, Chile
Wikimedia Commons by: LBM1948
Like the Galapagos Islands, Chile’s Easter Island is known primarily for something other than its beaches. And that’s hardly surprising since there are only two sandy beaches on the island. Anakena Beach is a stunning break from the mostly rocky coast. The white sands are lined by coconut palms before dropping into turquoise waters. Many visitors head to Easter Island to see the Moai statues, and here you’ll find not one but six of them. The best time to visit Anakena Beach is in the morning, where you’re likely to have the entire place to yourself.
Punta Sal, Peru
Flickr by: Renzo Vallejo
Peru has a number of jaw-dropping beaches in the far north close to the border with Ecuador. Mancora is a party town and Lobitos has amazing surfing. However, if you just want a gorgeous white sand beach where you can relax and soak up the chilled-out lifestyle, Punta Sal is where to go. It’s divided into two parts – Punta Sal Chica (small) is the one with the white sands. With the warm El Nino current meeting the cool Humboldt current here, it means that there’s sunshine year round so there’s no bad time to visit. Unusually, there’s very little development here so it’s a great place to get to know traditional Peruvian culture. You could even stay in a homestay with a local family.
Lopes Mendes, Angra dos Reis, Brazil
Flickr by: Ben K
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of South America (or even in the world, according to Vogue Magazine), Lopes Mendes is situated on Ilha Grande off the coast of Angra dos Reis. The hidden beach requires a bit of planning to get to – there aren’t any cafes or restaurants, or even a shop! On top of that, it’s a 20-minute walk on a steep track from the village of Palmas. However, all that effort is well worth it. The white sands have bright blue waters lapping against it – you could almost be in another world.
Los Roques, Venezuela
Los Roques is not a beach, but a national park about 100 miles off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. The archipelago consists of more than 350 islands, meaning that you may end up with one all to yourself. As well as stunning white sands, there are many opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling as there are hundreds of coral reefs here. Los Roques is one of the most expensive places in Venezuela and often attracts the country’s elite. Though the country is currently deemed dangerous due to the economic crisis there, Los Roques is still considered very safe.
Playa Blanca, Cartagena de las Indias, Colombia
Wikimedia Commons by: David Shankbone
Last but not least is Playa Blanca, which literally means White Beach in Spanish. Though there are many reasons to visit the city of Cartagena de las Indias, the beaches aren’t really one of them. However, take a boat out to Isla de Baru and it’s a different story. Around 45 minutes from the mainland, it’s a popular hotspot for Colombian families so get there early in the morning if you want to bag a space to lay down your towel.