“I need the sea because it teaches me,” wrote Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. “I don’t know if I learn music or awareness.” Truthfully, the sea has much to teach us all, and not only in Neruda’s beloved El Quisco. From the green sands of Kourou, French Guiana, to party-party Ipanema, every beach in South America offers lessons in geography, ecology, culture, and cuisine. Here are 14 shores you didn’t know you needed.
LAGUNA TORRE, EL CHALTÉN, ARGENTINA
While you may not want to go polar-plunging among icebergs, a visit to Patagonia’s Laguna Torre is worth it for the views alone. The easy eight-kilometre hike to the beach winds through twisty lenga forests and opens to a stunning view of Cerro Torre—an ice-glazed granite mountain once considered impossible to summit.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BETH WALD, NAT GEO IMAGE COLLECTION
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