By: Helen Warwick, Deputy Editor, National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Partying hard in Rio? Escape Olympic fever and take refuge on one of Brazil’s top beaches.
Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande
Backpackers and boho chic Brazilians flock to the gorgeous island of Ilha Grande for its sweeping beaches, laidback living and fabulous seafood. A couple of hours' drive from Rio and a short hop in a boat takes you to its glorious sands where bronzed beauties take respite from the throb on Lopes Mendes - consistently voted one of Brazil's best beaches. Grab a bottle of cachaca, dip your toes in the flour-soft sand and gawp at the surfers cruising the shore. It's a dead cert for lovers of out-there travel.
Joao Fernandes, Buzios
Snorkellers will relish the calm waters of this buzzy beach - the sea is gin-clear and wonderfully warm. After a soothing dip, head to one of the beach huts dishing up sweet lobster and shrimps, surrounded by gorgeous groups of revellers eyeing up the talent. And if you do get lucky, make a beeline for the right corner where the crowds are thinner for some hot beach action.
Praia do amor, Pipa
Pipa lies on one of Brazil's easternmost points - all pretty bays, tall cliffs, fun nightlife and traveller types having larks on the beach. And this superb stretch is hipster HQ with cool-as-they-come surfers and couples smooching hand in hand. Privacy for a hot-to-trot rendezvous can also be found in the natural warm pools that gather at one end of the beach. You might even spot a passing dolphin from your seaside nook.
Ok – so it’s hardly escaping the madness of the Olympics, but we have to mention this legendary beach in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain. And if you want to live like a local, you have to know where to dig your heels in; Ipanema is split into subcultures - from the strapping sands for tanned posers, to the stomping ground for hippies and artists, to the LGBT neck of the woods. It’s all gorgeous though – and the people-watching is epic.
Taipus de Fora, Bahia
For envy-inducing Facebook snaps, head to the glam state of Bahia – with its seemingly never-ending coastline of swoon-palmy beaches. And it’s easy to go weak at the knees for this little beauty on the Marau Peninsula – think superbly clear waters, natural swimming pools, kaleidoscopic marine life and fun-centric bars. What’re you waiting for?