Brazil is famous for many things but undoubtedly one of the things it’s best known for is its beautiful beaches. With a coastline stretching for over 7000km, there are a lot of beaches and cute coastal towns to visit, so many that it’d be impossible to list them all. But if you’re flying into Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo and want to explore the southern half of the Brazilian coast, then take a look at the list below where we list some of the best and most beautiful spots to add to your Brazil itinerary.
Florianopolis is an island in the south of Brazil connected to the mainland by a bridge. It’s a large island with beaches, lagoons, a historic city centre and cute coastal towns. There’s so much to see and do you could easily spend 2-3 weeks here alone.
Florianopolis is a paradise for hiking and beach lovers. One of the best hikes on the island is the Lagoinha do Leste hike. Starting on Matadeiro Beach, hike via Lagoinha Beach all the way to Pantano do Sul (or vice versa). If you’ve got the energy, at the south end of Lagoinha climb the short but steep path up to the Morro da Coroa lookout for stunning views and a great photo opportunity.
Another great hike is from Barra de Lagoa via the Boa Vista lookout to Praia da Galheta (the beach below). At the viewpoint you’ll have gorgeous views of the coastline, beaches and the lagoon, which really showcases the diversity of the Florianopolis landscape.
Ilhabela literally translates as beautiful island and when you visit you’ll see why. Usually skipped by foreign visitors but a favourite weekend destination for Brazilians from Sao Paulo, Ilhabela is gorgeous and definitely deserves a visit.
There’s a beautiful cycle/walking path running all the way along the coast from Barra Velha (where the ferry arrives) to the pretty Centro Historic, but the island is large and whilst there are buses, a car is the best way to get around.
The west side of the island is home to plenty of small beaches, but if you’re after a large gorgeous sandy beach then you’ll need to head to the more remote east side. The drive here, up through the Atlantic Forest of Ilhabela State Park, is an adventure in itself. The best beach to visit is Praia de Castelhanos. Head up to the viewpoint at the southern end of the beach and discover why they call it “Heart Lookout”.
On the mainland north of Ilhabela sits the small beach town of Ubatuba. Whilst the beach in the town centre isn’t anything to write home about, there are a ton of beautiful beaches nearby, including the long sandy beach of Praia Grande. For more sandy beaches, take the bus to Lazaro and walk between the three beaches there (Praia Domingas Dias, do Lazaro and da Sununga).
One of the best activities to do in Ubatuba is the 7 beaches hike. Take the bus to Praia de Fortaleza and then hike past 7 gorgeous beaches, the first few of which are likely to be deserted, until you reach the final beach of Praia da Lagoinha.
Ubatuba centre has a ton of nice cafes and restaurants, but if you do have a kitchen then head to Mercado de Peixes where you’ll find a large open-air market selling fresh fish and seafood for very cheap prices.
For something a bit different from the many beach towns on this list, head to the beautiful city of Paraty. You can get here by Shuttle from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Its historic town centre is one of the best-preserved colonial towns in Brazil, if not South America, with cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings and colourful doorways. Getting lost in the streets here is an Instagrammers paradise.
But Paraty isn’t just about the old town. The town itself is on the water and a number of gorgeous beaches are within easy reach. One of the best ways to explore the coastline is to take a boat trip around the bay. For around 50R (~$10) for a 6-hour trip relaxing on the gorgeous blue waters, it’s a must-do whilst in Paraty. Here’s a tour option that you can book online.
Angra dos Reis
Most people only visit Angra dos Reis to take the ferry to Ilha Grande, but if you have time it’s worth spending a day or two here to explore the quiet beaches around the town.
Buses run regularly along the coast so jump on and take your pick between the many beaches east and west of the town. Some favourites include Praia do Figueira and Praia do Leste to the west and Praia do Biscaia to the east. The latter is also a great spot to watch the sunset.
One thing really worth doing whilst here is to take a taxi boat from Praia Grande to the island of Ilha da Gipoia. Once you arrive, walk along the coast and across the island to the gorgeous white sand beach of Praia do Dentista.
Another beautiful spot is Cataguases which is the image at the top of this article, where you could go and relax and enjoy the beaches. You can also get there on a tour from Rio.
If you’re looking for gorgeous beaches and crystal clear water then look no further than Ilha Grande. Take a boat trip to Lagoa Azul where you’ll find water so crystal clear you can watch the fish without even getting in the water, and Aventureiro Beach and its famous leaning coconut tree. And don’t leave the island without paying a visit to Lopes Mendes beach, known as being one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil.
Arraial do Cabo
If you’re looking for gorgeous white sand beaches and turquoise blue water then Arraial do Cabo is your place. There’s an array of gorgeous beaches all within walking distance of the town centre.
One of the most popular is Praia do Pontal do Atalaia. Pure white sand and turquoise water, it really is stunning. But its beauty brings with it a high number of visitors and boat trips so make sure to visit early and avoid weekends if possible.
For a less busy but equally, if not more, beautiful beach, make the 30-minute walk over the hill to Praia do Forno. Along the way you’ll pass a viewpoint where you can really see the stunning blue waters along the white sand beach. Praia do Pontal is another amazing beach worth a visit.
Another great thing about Arraial do Cabo is that it’s one of the few places in Brazil where you can view the sunset. Grab a beer and head to Praia Grande to watch the sun go down over the water.
Just up the coast from Arraial dos Cabos sits the livelier beach town of Buzios. Its buzzing town centre consists of a number of shops, bars and restaurants for all budgets, but head slightly north up the coast you’ll find a number of extremely high-end seafront hotels and restaurants.
Whilst the beaches aren’t quite as stunning as Arraial do Cabo, Buzios still has its fair share. One of the best is Praia Brava, where if you walk right over the rocks you’ll find a large and quiet sandy beach. Praia de João Fernandes and Praia João Fernandinho are also worth the walk from the centre.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is also located along the coast and is one of the most famous and popular cities in Brazil. It would be a great starting point into the country before visiting other coastal places or the mainland. A few things the city is known for include the Christ the Redeemer statue, beaches such as Copacabana, as well as its favelas. Here you will find plenty to see and do and you can also take tours to nearby places too, including some places mentioned above.
The Brazilian coastline is stunning. Turquoise blue waters lined with white sand beaches and backed by lush green mountains, its beauty is unparalleled. If you like beaches, hiking and nature then it really is the perfect destination. You’ll be spoilt for choice on which beaches to visit.
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