Brazil's Best Beaches: Where You Need to Go on Your Next Holiday

Waves crashing on the beautiful Praia do Espelho

You could spend a lifetime exploring Brazil’s beautiful beaches. The country is renowned for its #beachvibes for very good reason. Not to mention it also has the greatest biodiversity on the planet which makes the beaches that much more enchanting. 

During our three week jaunt across Brazil, we did our very best to scratch at the surface of its beach bliss. And in the process we discovered two unforgettable beaches I urge you not to miss. Because its not really a holiday unless you return home five shades darker and 10x more relaxed. 

Epic Brazilian beach number 1: Praia do Espelho

Praia do Espelho literally translates to "Mirror Beach." It's named in honour of its crystal-clear, reflective waters. And I can assure you this beach fully lives up to its namesake. It's deep turquoise and baby blue hues are truly memorising. And the waves crashing against the rock formations along the shore make it all the more peaceful and picturesque. You literally could not ask for better Instagram fodder. Apparently it's a popular getaway destination for Brazilians, and judging by all the beautiful women I spotted perfecting their selfie game, I'd say this is definitely true. 

The colour of that water though

During our visit the beach was relatively quiet. We found a spot all to ourselves to soak in the sun, listen to the waves and devour our magazines. We also enjoyed a good few coconut waters as well as another delicious moqueca for lunch. Read about my love affair with this dish here

How to get there: We spent a few days in Porto Seguro, a major party town on the Bahian coast and a good port of call if you're working your way from Northern Brazil down to Rio by bus. We booked a last-minute day trip direct to the praia from one of the agencies located on the high street in town. They picked us up directly from our hotel at 8am and dropped us back at 4pm. It's about a two hour drive each way and we had about four hours to enjoy the beach and grab some lunch. You can also hire a car, but I'd only advise this if you're planning to explore more of the coast or really want to settle into relaxation mode and linger longer.

How long to spend there: Longer than we did. We stayed for most of the afternoon but the trip felt rushed. I'd advise staying on the beach itself (there are some cute bungalows right along the water), or a nearby town like Trancoso, to savour this praia a little longer. However, a day or two is probably more than enough, especially if you want to check out a few other beaches along the Northern Brazilian coast. 

In my happy place

Epic Brazilian beach number 2: Lopes Mendes

This stunning beach is located on the beautiful Ilha Grande, which is a mere three hours (short by Brazilian standards!) from Rio and sits within the Rio de Janeiro State. It’s a popular destination for Cariocas on long holiday weekends.  And it certainly feels like you’ve escaped all the hustle and bustle as soon as you arrive. This “large island” (its literal translation) doesn’t allow for cars so the only traffic you'll encounter will be your fellow travellers and the island's cute pups. 

Our ferry arriving at the stunning Ilha Grande

Of course there are beautiful beaches along the entire coast but Lopes Mendes is not your ordinary beach. It’s located right on the Atlantic Ocean so its waters are raw. It's not the best place for a quick dip since the currents are incredibly strong, but if you want to feel like you're standing on the edge of the world, this beach is for you. You'll be surrounded by the island's luscious mountains, and the waters will boom right in front of you as your feet sink into the silky-soft sand.

A sign directing us to Lopes Mendes. Only 20 more minutes of hiking to go!

How to get there: It’s relatively easy to get to Ilha Grande, especially if you're coming from Rio. We booked a EasyTransfer bus + ferry ride (for about £50) that picked us up directly from our hostel in Ipanema. The trip took about 3 hours door to door. I assume you could just as easily hire your own car and take the ferry across; you'd just need to work to the ferry schedule. 

As for Lopes Mendes itself, you can take it easy and book a round-trip boat from Abraão (the main beach on Ilha Grande) for about 30 reales and get a day's worth of relaxation on the beach.

Or you can be a bit more adventurous like us, and hike there. However, we forget that Brazilians have a tendency to underestimate how long it takes to get anywhere. So what we thought would be a quick one-hour hike to the beach quickly turned into a logistical nightmare. It took us 1.5 hours to get to what we thought was Lopes Mendes only to discover and we still had another hour of hiking to go! With the sun on its descent, we decided to book a boat for the rest of the journey and make the most of what was left of the day.

So if you're after some R&R, book the BOAT. But if you want to earn your beach time, hike there. Just start early so you have plenty of time to enjoy the beach when you finally arrive.

How long to spend: Half a day is plenty. There aren't many facilities on the beach itself and it's not exactly swimmable so best to start early, enjoy your morning on the beach and build up an appetite to enjoy a tasty meal (and caipirinhas) somewhere else on the island. 

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