Photo: Praia da Cacimba do Padres Beach, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, courtesy Culture Trip
The best South America beaches are characterized as having good quality sand, crystal clear turquoise water, a scenic backdrop, and other amenities that can add to it being a top beach destination.
Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Fernando de Noronha is an island two hundred miles off Brazil's northeastern coast,and is one of Brazil's hidden treasures. The beaches are made of sparkling white sand with year round warm crystal clear turquoise water that is not contaminated by runoff of sediment from Brazil's major rivers. The beaches are un crowded and offers great surfing, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Its distance from the mainland with limited flights each day. The island is an environmental protection area with many tourist restrictions.
Ipanema Beach - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Located on the the Atlantic ocean, this is a beautiful sandy beach with turquoise water and a majestic scenic backdrop of Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountain. The beach is popular and crowded with "cariocas" citizens from Rio de Janeiro with a cross-section of different lifestyles and trend setting beach goers who popularized the skimpy tanga bikini, the G-string for men, and the dental-floss bikini. The beach borders many high end boutiques, restaurants, and luxurious apartment building.
Los Roques Archipelago National Park, Venezuela
The park has exceptionally beautiful un-crowded beaches with soft white sand and warm crystal clear turquoise water immersed with coral reefs with a variety of colors and tropical marine life that offer excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.
Parque Nacional Tayrona, Colombia
With improved security in Colombia now at safe levels, the beaches of Tayrona are becoming more popular. The beaches here are the most scenic on Colombia's coast line and are located on picturesque bays with crystal clear turquoise water surrounded by lush forest and coconut palm trees. Many of the beaches are ringed with coral reefs offering good snorkeling and scuba-diving. There is also good hiking and rustic cabanas where you can spend the but you have to bring your own food and water.
Porto de Galinhas, Brazil
Best known for its crystal-clear turquoise water, its spectacular beaches, and the tidal pools that form in the nearby reefs that line the coast. The beaches are white, fine grained sand and stretch for 18 km along the coast line. During the lower tide, the water trapped by the reefs forms several natural pools where tourists can swim, dive and feed the fishes. Attractive jangadas -- one-sail fishing rafts-- can be seen along the beach and the beach side restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Punta del Este, Uruguay
Often referred to as the St. Tropez of Uruguay for its beautiful pristine beaches, high-end hotels and high-rolling casinos, and hedonistic lifestyle where the well healed flock to. Though considered expensive by Uruguay standards, Punta del Este is less expensive compared to European and USA resorts.