Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro: Yes, this is one of the most urban beaches in the world, but it's still one of the country's prime tanning spots. The long stretch of white sand is perfect for observing the tan and lovely (male and female alike). Or watch a game of volleyball while having a beer and some fresh seafood; if you feel like it, go for a swim or a stroll.
Ilha Grande: This former prison colony off the coast of Rio de Janeiro offers dozens of beaches. The nicest may well be Lopes Mendes, facing the ocean on the eastern tip of the island. This long stretch of strand is unspoiled by any development, and features fine soft sand, clear clean water, and excellent waves for surfing.
Boipeba, Bahia: The perfect island getaway, Boipeba makes Morro de São Paulo seem busy and hectic. Just south of Morro, Boipeba offers glorious empty beaches framed by rows and rows of palm trees. At Boca da Barra, where the river Inferno meets the ocean, huge sand banks appear at low tide. You can choose whether to swim on the freshwater side or play in salty ocean.
Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco: Development in Porto de Galinhas has been kept resolutely small-scale. No high-rises mar the unpretentious town of Porto de Galinhas, which has perhaps four streets -- enough for a dozen restaurants, a bank, some surf shops, and a beachside bar or two.
Ponta Negra, Manaus: Not an ocean beach but a river beach, Ponta Negra, on the shores of Rio Negro, is the most popular tanning spot in the dry season. All the standard beach accouterments are present, including vendors plying food, drinks, and souvenirs. Beach kiosks serve up snacks until the wee hours.
Fernando do Noronha: The island archipelago of Fernando do Noronha has so many spectacular beaches, it's hard to single out just one. Praia do Leão offers wild crashing surf and sea turtle hatchings in season. The most gorgeously secluded is Praia da Baía do Sancho, a crescent of red sand on shimmering clear blue water that can only be reached by clambering down a rickety iron ladder through a chasm in the cliff side.
Praia Mole, Florianópolis: Praia Mole is one of the most popular beaches on the beautiful southern island of Santa Catarina (aka Florianópolis). Perfectly white fluffy sand, lush green vegetation, and rocky outcrops give the beach an isolated, paradisiacal feel. Yet, the strand is anything but quiet, packed with a bohemian crowd of locals from Floripa, yuppie tourists, surfers, gay and gay-friendly sunbathers, and families.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.