Is your idea of holiday heaven a beach vacation? There’s a lot to be said for a relaxing break beside the ocean, relaxing under the shade of a palm tree and wriggling your toes into soft sand. Let Mundana point you in the direction of Latin America’s best beaches with this handy guide.
Travellers to Mexico’s Riviera Maya are most likely going to visit some of the area’s Mayan archaeological sites during their stay. Visit Tulum, however, and you don’t need to choose between history and the beach. This clifftop site perches above a beautiful white sand beach and there are steps that lead down from the ruins. Nearby, you’ll find more beautiful strips of sand: Playa Paraíso, Pescadores and Las Palmas are the closest public beaches. The area also has a good range of beachfront accommodation. Note that during turtle hatching season, from May to November, beaches can be closed to protect eggs and hatchlings.
The locals call it Jeri, though the rest of us know it as Jericoacoara Beach. Regardless of what you call it, it’s one of the best stretches of coastline in the whole of Brazil – and that’s saying something! A broad swath of sand is lapped gently by waves, making this the ideal spot to try paddle boarding in the shallows. When the wind picks up, you might try other water sports such as kite surfing or sailing. If that’s too energetic, relaxing over the area’s lagoons in a hammock is a popular pastime. But perhaps the best thing to do on this beach isn’t in the water at all. Travellers in the know head to Sunset Dune at the end of the day to watch the sky redden, reflected in the water.
Punta del Este, Uruguay
Uruguay receives fewer visitors than Brazil and Mexico but the resort of Punta del Este is one of the liveliest beach towns in Latin America. Each beach in the area has its own distinct personality. Celebs typically frequent Bikini Beach, while Playa Brava attracts a surfing crowd. Playa Mansa is a family favourite but is also a great place to catch the sunset. One beach in Punta del Este is often photographed, thanks to a quirky art installation that features a hand poking out from the sand. Created by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal, you’ll find it on Playa Brava.
Marino Bellena National Park, Costa Rica
Dreamy Playas Ballena and Uvita not only look exquisite, they are rich in wildlife too. Green marine iguanas perch on the rocks in this part of Costa Rica, basking in the sunshine. Come between May and November and you might also catch sight of Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles, which lay their eggs here. Whales and dolphins pass close by the shore. Whale migrations come in two phases. Those coming from the Antarctic arrive in July and stay until November. Those travelling south from Canada and the USA can be seen between December and April. You’ll also see a plethora of birds, including pelicans, frigate birds and brown footed boobies.
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Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
You’ll probably think of wildlife when you think of the Galapagos, and rightly so. This protected archipelago was where Darwin figured out his Theory of Evolution and where modern day adventurers come to study its giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sealions and blue-footed boobies. Many of these encounters will be on its extraordinary island beaches. Secluded coves, unpolluted water and pristine sand make this a rather special place to come. Try to visit a few of them, such as Red Sand Beach on Rabida, Gardner Bay on Espanola and Punta Carola or Puerto Chino on San Cristobal.
San Blas, Panama
The beaches of the San Blas archipelago provide one of the most compelling reasons to come to Panama. Golden sand is lapped by limpid turquoise water. Overhead, palms sway gently in the breeze. If you’re looking for paradise in Latin America, this comes pretty close. One of the most popular spots is Isla Perro, which attracts visitors for its snorkelling opportunities including a shallow wreck. Isla Banedub channels a castaway vibe and with the absence of light pollution you might catch sight of bioluminescent jellyfish in the water. Chichimei Beach is another rustic getaway destination, with no electricity but the chance to disconnect leave all your stress behind.
Anakena, Easter Island
Marooned in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you might not think of Easter Island as being part of the Americas. Indeed, its heritage is Polynesian. But it’s officially Chilean territory. Hop on a plane from Santiago and most of your fellow passengers will have one thing on their mind: moai. However in the north of the island there’s a splendid beach. It even has a clutch of coconut palms to give it a tropical vibe, though they were imported from Tahiti. Anakena is a pretty strip of sand and a picnic here is the ideal pitstop before you continue with your tour of the island.
It’s common knowledge that Peru has some of the most impressive archaeological sites on the planet; the Incas left quite a legacy. But while the crowd follows a well-trodden path to Cusco and the Sacred Valley, head north – almost to the Ecuadorean border. There, you’ll find a laidback beach town called Mancora, which attracts surfers alongside those who simply wish to chill out. The food’s great too, especially fresh ceviche, a Peruvian coastal speciality. Pacific breakers crash onto the beach when the wind is up, but if it dies down, the sand is perfect for a stroll and chance to watch the glorious sunset.
Will your next trip be to Latin America? Why not speak to Mundana and let us put together a bespoke itinerary for you and your friends or family?