Life in Brazil, it sometimes seems, is one endless beach. The nation’s remarkable Atlantic Coast runs with incredible diversity some 7,491km (4,644mi), famously “from Chui to Oiapoque,” according to the popular parlance of the shore. While these wondrous riches of sun, surf and sand are a boon to both the Brazilian and the long-term tourist, travelers with limited time and resources may find it hard to choose.
With that in mind, here are seven “Best Beach Town in Brazil” contenders, presented for your consideration.
Buzios: Southern Comfort
With (at least) 23 beaches to choose from, the picturesque peninsula of fishing villages, surf spots, and laid-back resorts is just two hours (126km/79mi) from Rio has been the choice of well-heeled Brazilians and global glitterati since Brigit Bardot made it famous in the 1960s.
Trancoso: Bohemian Chic
The stunning beaches of Trancoso are a favorite destination of Sao Paolo’s upper crust, in search of an exclusive yet isolated escape from the city. The truly gorgeous shore offers rustic charm interspersed with pockets of upscale shopping and dining, perfect for Brazil’s jetsetting elite who haven’t yet lost touch with their sun-loving souls.
Vila do Abraao, Ilha Grande: Rio’s Island Escape
While the city of Rio’s epic coastline is more than enough for most visitors, island hoppers should tour Ilha Grande, a fine collection of 107 perfect white-sand beaches, lovely little pousadas and ultra-exclusive resorts just 120km (75mi) east of the city. Hikers, snorkelers and luxury lovers alike will adore this island escape.
Alter do Chao: Tan Lines on the Amazon
Some of Brazil’s best beaches are along the Amazon River, a hidden white-sand paradise (sometimes called the “Caribbean of Brazil”) in the heart of the rainforest. The finest, with palm-fringed peninsulas and mangrove-lined lagoons, are close to Alter do Chao, a pretty little village of thatched restaurants and small hotels, just a scenic 33km (20mi) boat ride from the ancient river port of Santarem, in Para State.
Florianopolis: The Urban Sophisticate’s Choice
When you want it all, this dynamic state capital of more than a million people, presiding over “The Magic Island” of Santa Catarina, offers a magnificent melange of fine dining, fabulous nightlife and 42 flawless beaches to enjoy, making it a sophisticated spot to work on your tan.
Fernando de Noronha: Eco-Escape
Brazil is replete with natural wonders, and this achingly lovely archipelago of volcanic islands in the northeast will tempt any ecotourist worth their recycling to its beautifully biodiverse shores. Choose any of the comfortable hotels as your base for exploring the dramatic, volcanic spires thrusting up from warm reefs—naturally colorful aquariums with wonderful diving and snorkeling—and pristine rainforests of the larger islands.
Porto Seguro: Bahia’s Place to Party
Brazil’s second-most-famous Carnival takes place in Bahia’s best beach town, Porto Seguro, but this popular Spanish colonial gem by the sea is a fantastic destination all year. Come for the exquisite architecture and beaches, stay for the awesome nightlife, African-accented cuisine and attractions that include the world’s most impressive aquarium complex, filled with options for dining and dancing.