Some beaches are better than others, but you can find outstanding beaches throughout Latin America, from Mexico to Brazil.
Too many to list here but here are a few highlights:
Costa Rica is where you will find some of the best beaches south of Mexico. The Pacific coast is dotted with beaches from Guanacaste Province on the northern coast to Uvita and Dominical, south of Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific coast. Playas Tamarindo, Flamingo and Conchal, all with convenient access to the international airport in Liberia and the town of Tamarindo with restaurants, shops and stores, nightlife. Further south, on the Nicoya Peninsula, are Playa Samara, Playa Islita (home to the Hotel Punta Islita) and the more isolated beaches of Santa Teresa and Malpais further south toward Cabo Blanco. On the central coast to the south of San Jose are Jaco, Herradura and the beaches and jungle of Manuel Antonio National Park. Uvita and Dominical are less crowded beaches located south of Manuel Antonio. Fewer hotel choices and less infrastructure, but fewer tourists as well. The best beaches on the Caribbean side are Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo.
Nicaragua has beach options on the Pacific coast and in the Caribbean Sea. The small fishing village of San Juan del Sur, once a little-known surfing spot, has recently been discovered by travelers and expatriates, and for good reason. Little Corn Island is popular for Scuba diving and snorkeling, but as a tropical beach getaway as well.
Cuba - Varadero Beach and Playa Ancón are considered two of Cuba's best beaches with plenty of resorts to show.
Belize is better known for its barrier reef and excellent flats fishing, but the beaches compliment the diving, snorkeling and fishing. Some of Belize's best beaches are found on Ambergris Caye and near the towns of Dangriga and Placencia, all a short flight from Belize City. From Dangriga you have South Water Caye, an island just 15 miles off the coast from town. About a half-hour by car from Dangriga is the Garífuna village of Hopkins and the Hopkins Village Beach. Placencia features the longest stretch of beach on the mainland with a good selection of resorts, restaurants and nightlife. Ambergris Caye provides the closest access to the barrier reef, just a half-mile away, but is also home to several nice beaches and beachfront resorts. Most resorts are a short walk or golf cart ride to the town of San Pedro and restaurants, shops and watering holes.
Panama - excellent beaches can be found along both coasts. The Bocas del Toro Archipelago is an ecological destination with beaches. Resorts are scattered on the islands dotting the archipelago. In the main town of Bocas you will find hotels, shops, restaurants and bars. Bocas del Toro is ideal for blending relaxing beach time with nature tours in Bastimentos Island National Marine Park. In the San Blas Archipelago you can stay on a private island as guests of a Kuna family - a true local homestay experience.
Colombia offers beach options on both Caribbean and Pacific coasts but the best pure beach experiences are on the Caribbean side. From Cartagena you should pass on the beaches of Bocagrande and escape for a few days of low-key beach relaxation to the Rosario Islands or Playa Blanca on Barú Island. More tropical and less crowded than the main Cartagena beach. The San Andrés Archipelago is one of the most beautiful destinations in Colombia - this is pure Caribbean paradise! Providencia, one of the three islands of the San Andrés Archipelago, is a tropical, coconut-palmed paradise, perfect for a relaxing few days of vacation in Colombia. It's a stunning island of beautiful beaches that are, on the whole, completely untouched. Excellent diving and snorkeling. Tayrona National Park is an area of extraordinary natural beauty geared more toward ecotourism than sunbathing and swimming. Here you will find picturesque bays, exotic vegetation, palm-fringed beaches and more than 100 varieties of mammal and birdlife such as condors and marine eagles.
Brazil - Rio's Copacabana and Ipanema may be the most famous, but the 4600+ miles of Pacific coastline is dotted with excellent beaches from Fortaleza to Florianopolis. On the Búzios peninsula, about 3 hours by car from Rio, there are 23 beaches, each with its own character. Geribá, Tartaruga and João Fernandes are among the favorites. The island of Ilha Grande is located off the coast of Rio de Janeiro State and can only be reached by boat. There are no roads or motorized vehicles, but over 90 miles of hiking trails that connect the island's small villages. Arguably, the best of Brazil's beaches are in the State of Bahia. Praia do Forte, about 1 1/2 hours by car from Salvador, is well-developed with several large hotels and all-inclusive resorts. The beaches are classically beautiful which accounts for the popularity. Trancoso is located south of Porto Seguro and is known for quieter, unspoiled beaches with natural swimming pools formed by reefs. Fernando de Noronha is a popular destination for Scuba diving but there are several of Brazil's best beaches on this island reached by air from Natal and Recife. Most lodging on Fernando are small, intimate pousadas and inns.
There are beaches along Argentina's Atlantic coast, but many Argentines prefer Uruguay instead. Punta del Este is the upscale beach getaway for many Argentines with long and sweeping beaches, a wide selection of hotels and spa resorts, sophisticated nightlife.