When traveling in South America, the little beach towns were some of my favorite places. While big cities like Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro are fabulous and must be visited, it was always refreshing to get away from the hustle and bustle for a couple of days and relax at a little beachside town.
These little beach towns throughout South America each have their own charm and unique list of things to do and see. But they all have one thing in common – beautiful beaches! For me, hanging out the beach with a fresh coconut in hand was the perfect way to recharge and relax on my travels in South America.
These are 5 towns that stand out for me when I think back to my trip in South America, each offering a completely different experience than the next!
1. Mancora, Peru
Mancora is a cute little beachside town in northern Peru. This town reminded me more of Southeast Asia than actually Peru simply because of all of the tuk-tuks driving around and little shops and market stalls lining the streets. The main street in town runs parallel with the beach and is really the only street in town making it a small a friendly place to chill out for a few days.
Besides just enjoying the beach lifestyle, there is one really cool activity to do in Mancora – swim with sea turtles! Near the town, there is a huge colony of sea turtles. You can go on a tour out on a boat where you actually get to swim with the wild sea turtles. You aren’t allowed t touch them in order to protect them, but just swimming near them is a really cool experience.
2. Montanita – Ecuador
Just across the border from Montanita is another beachside town, but this time in Ecuador. Montanita is famous for surfing, partying, and awesome street food! Backpackers love Montanita and many stay for several months eating crepes for breakfast and prawns for dinner.
Montanita is also very close to an island called Isla de la Plata, which is referred to as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos” which is exactly what it is. If you can’t afford a trip to the Galapagos islands then heading to Isla de la Plata is the next best thing. We went on a day trip there from Montanita and saw turtles, Frigit birds, and Blue Footed Boobies!
3. Vila do Abraão (Ilha Grande), Brazil
Vila do Abraão is the town on the island near Rio called Ilha Grande. Ilha Grande literally translates to “big island.” Stay in the town and explore the big island from there. There are huge surfing beaches, amazing snorkeling spots in turquoise water, and hikes to waterfalls and viewpoints. If you love nature, then you will love Vila do Abraão and Ilha Grande!
Ilha Grande is easily reached by ferry. It isn’t very far from Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo and therefore is the perfect place to escape to after a visit to either city. However, the locals of Brazil also love Ilha Grande as a holiday spot so it can get very busy. Make sure to book your accommodation in advance if you plan on going between December and February!
4. El Centro, San Andres Island, Colombia
El Centro is the nickname of the main town on San Andres Island in Colombia. San Andres Island belongs to Colombia but it is actually closer to Nicaragua than anywhere else. Located in the middle of the Carribean Sea, San Andres allows access to some of the most pristine beaches and is a tropical destination like no other. The island is so isolated that it is only possible to get there by flight! But don’t worry, flights are frequent and cheap from most cities in Colombia.
The culure on San Andres is also worth going for. The mix of Colombia and Jamacian people who live there create a culture all of its own unique just to the island. The people on the island almost all speak English and will be happy to chat with you, some may even ask to take pictures with you!
5. Pipa, Brazil
In Northeast Brazil, there is a little gem of a town called Pipa. It has what many consider to be the best beach in Brazil right on its doorstep. Infact, while swimming at the beach near Pipa it is common to see dolphins!
Pipa is a quiet town and the perfect place to relax for a few days. Do some yoga, drink beer on the beach for only a couple of dollars, eat lots of seafood, and work on that tan!
Pipa is only a couple hour bus ride from the city of Natal and some people visit pipa just on a day trip. However, I Liked this little town so much that I would reccommed staying for at least a few days!
These charming little beach towns were some of my highlights while traveling in South America. The beautiful scenery mixed with the friendliest people who welcome tourists with open arms makes falling in love with these towns easy. Each of these places I would love to return to one day!
Bailey had been traveling the world for the last four years and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon! Recently she just finished a 14-month trip in Latin America and now you will find her in New Zealand. Bailey travels on a budget, stays in hostels, but splurges on adventure activities. You can follow Bailey on her travel blog, Destinationless Travel, or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.