We like to think there’s a beach for everyone in South America – the epicurean might head to Jose Ignacio or Trancoso; the kite surfer to Jericoacoara; the party chaser to Florianopolis; the island hopper to Colombia; the surf bum to northern Peru. We’ve selflessly committed serious time to seeking out the coolest, the windiest, the tastiest and the dreamiest. Here go a few of our favourites:
Heaven is the tiny Bahian island of Boipeba. Next to the more famous (and significantly less charming) Morro de São Paulo, it is peace personified, other than the occasional purr of a speedboat engine and chatter of tropical birdsong. The self-contained village of Moreré has no cars, only cobbled streets and carts. Settle in for a few nights at the very lovely Arasy Boipeba and explore the handful of local restaurants and mangaba fringed shores.
Located in a small bay bordered by tropical rainforest, breezily chic Trancoso is a firm PSA favourite. At the heart of the village sits the grassy Quadrado bordered by playfully-painted boutiques and restaurants. A little chapel occupies one end looking out to sea from a clifftop. Take the footpath through the mangroves onto 15-miles of immaculate beach and clear, glassy waters. Lay your head to rest at the super cool Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa.
It sure takes some getting to, but this is wonderfully offbeat Caribbean experience for those willing to make the pilgrimage. By a twist of geopolitical fate, the island lies off the Nicaragua, yet pertains to Colombia. There is excellent diving, some cool beach bars, even some late afternoon horseracing along the beach. To get here, you’ll need to fly north to San Andres from Cartagena or Bogota, before connecting with a 20-seater plane (20mins) or a catamaran shuttle (3hrs). Stay at Deep Blue, or one of our boho private villas. There’ll be a hammock and an ice-cold Club Colombia waiting for you at the other end.
La Pedrera is one of Uruguay’s most charming seaside towns. The 30-mile stretch of beach is interrupted only by the odd rocky outcrop, long coastal grasses and the occasional lifeguard hut. It’s a buzzy little town with some good restaurants and low-key nightlife. Rent a house for a week or shack up at the funky Brisas de La Pedrera.
A short journey further up the coast towards the border with Brazil is Cabo Polonio. There are only two ways to reach this remote bohemian outpost: a five-mile hike through the dunes or a 30-minute ride by 4×4. Regulars refer in hallowed terms to El Cabo – there are few places quite like it left in the world, with a pace of life that only the Uruguayans could create. No electricity or running water here – only candles and lanterns lighting simple little ranchos sprinkled along the peninsula.
Vina del Mar
The coastline that inspired Pablo Neruda, Chile’s Pacific waters are famously nippy, but its beaches are pristine and offer some of the freshest seafood on the planet. Vina del Mar is our pick of the bunch, and we have some gorgeous oceanfront villas to offer. Those who prefer to stay on the move can rent a car and hop down the coast to Zapallar and the colourful port city of Valparaiso – and then, of course, there’s wine land within an hour.