5 of the best beaches in South America

South America has many fine beaches – and ones that can be far more unspoiled than those found in traditional European hot-spots. We have, however, concentrated on those accessible to Detour travelers, although we have also included an add-on for those who want to see the beach near Argentina’s capital.

Detour offers many packages that allow you to explore areas on your own, including some of the fine beach resorts in Belize and Costa Rica that we mention below and that make for such relaxing times.

ajdoudt / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

#1. Jaco – Costa Rica

Jaco, south of Puntarenas and north of Manuel Antonio on the Central Coast, boasts one of Costa Rica’s finest shorelines – and this in a country famed for its beaches. Once one of those archetypal dozy beach towns whose inhabitants looked sleepy at all hours of the day, foreign surfers from all over the world have now flooded the place, drawn to the excellent high waves.

Jaco, like many of the resorts featured here, lies in a tropical climate zone mainly defined by distinct dry and wet seasons. Generally speaking, August through early December are wet, and late December through early April are dry. The remaining months have irregular rainy spells.

#2. Golfo Dulce – Costa Rica

One of only three tropical fjords in the world, the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf) has 180-meter-deep waters in the center of a usually placid gulf. Swimmers and snorkelers can take boats out to watch the diverse marine life that includes dolphins and whales.

The gulf creates two shorelines: an eastern shore that is accessible only by boat above Golfito, and a western shore, which is on the eastern side of the Osa Peninsula. South of Golfito, the coast fronts the Pacific Ocean once again (rather than the calm gulf), with wilder beaches that beckon surfers and nature lovers.


#3. Dangriga – Belize

Once called Stann Creek town, Dangriga is the district capital and the cultural center of the Garifuna people (of American-Indian and African ancestry) who account for most of the 9,000 population. The area looks like something of a television advert for Bounty chocolate. The Caribbean breeze wafts past wooden houses perched on stilts and the shoreline is decorated with mango and coconut trees. With its tranquil atmosphere and sweet-smelling air, Dangriga is a marvelous spot to while away a few carefree days.


#4. Placencia – Belize

Sixteen miles of natural sandy beach, a virgin mangrove-fringed lagoon, a wonderland of coral-studded cayes, nearby jungle rivers and rain-forests make Placencia an ideal relaxation spot.

Belize’s Barrier Reef is second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Whether you want to snorkel the many small reefs and flats, dive into the pristine barrier reef, fish the world-renowned salt-water flats or just enjoy the magnificent white sandy beach, it’s an experience you won’t forget.


#5 Mar del Plata – Argentina

This may be a bit off your route but if you are taking one of Detour’s Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego expedition cruises then you may like to get a little bit of sun by adding a few days to your stay before you head south and it starts to get nippy.

Mar del Plata is one of Argentina’s main fishing ports and the biggest seaside resort in the country. It has a very advanced tourist infrastructure with numerous hotels, restaurants, casinos, theaters and other attractions. It is also an important sports center with a multi-purpose Olympic-style stadium.

If you also visit the city of Buenos Aires itself (which you should visit if in the area), you will be agreeably surprised by its beauty and inviting ambiance. If you’re a British visitor, don’t mention the war –  the Falklands War I mean! And remember that, unlike the aforementioned resorts, Buenos Aires has a Mediterranean-style climate –  but in reverse as it’s in the southern hemisphere. In other words, if you think you can go to Mar del Plata beach in August to catch up on your tan you may be disappointed as average highs only reach about 57 Fahrenheit! December through to February, however, you can expect daily highs of around 85 degrees.

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We hope you have a wonderful holiday!