Southern Brazil has an altogether different climate to that of Bahia and Northern Brazil, and hence it's not a year round beach vacation destination. If you're travelling here for the beaches, don't visit during the winter months, as it's not beach weather from June to August.
Rio de Janeiro has fine city beaches packed with beautiful people, but for those seeking fewer crowds there's various beach resorts within a few hours travel away, in addition to the fantastic beaches further south in Brazil on the island of Florianopolis.
Brazils Costa do Sol - East from Rio
East of Rio the road runs between Itacoatiara and Cabo de Frio along what is called Brazil's Costa do Sol, with access to many empty open beaches that are perfect for camping. There's various small resorts worthy of a night or two: Marica has nearby good surfing beaches; Saquarema is a holiday village known as one of Brazil's surfing hotspots; Lake Arauama is good for windsurfing and has medicinal mud; and Arraial do Cabo is rather unattractive but has some lovely deserted beaches nearby. 170km from Rio de Janeiro is Cabo de Frio, a holiday resort town that is a little touristy and gets very busy at the weekends. While a little overly touristy, Cabo de Frio does have some fine white sand beaches nearby.
Buzios - Brazils Chic Resort near Rio
Travel overland three hours from Rio to Buzios, a sophisticated chic resort popular with the wealthy classes of Rio. Buzios is popular with wealthy twenty / thirty-something singles looking to meet others, and there are some romanticly set hotels, a buzzing nightlife and some beautiful beaches. There's 25 beautiful beaches nearby to Buzios, many of them good for surfing.
West from Rio to Angra dos Reis and Parati along the Costa Verde
The highway along the Costa Verde, West from Rio de Janeiro to Santos (Sao Paulo's port) is one of one of the most beautiful highways in the world. The coastal road is backed by forested hills to one side, and beaches and beautiful islands on the other.
22km down the Costa Verde coastal road is the sleepy fishing village of Mangaratiba, with a few decent beaches just outside of town (and various hotels in the town itself). More appealing and beautiful are the beaches of Angra dos Reis, whose bay is scattered with hundreds of beautiful islands and beaches. While the town of Angra dos Reis is not particularly attractive itself, there's numerous luxury hotels on the beaches nearby. Angra dos Reis is quite a glitzy area, busy during the peak tourism season, and popular with Brazilians who enjoy yachting. The nearby island of Ilha Grande is famed as have some of Brazil's most beautiful beaches. The forest island of Ilha Grande, with it's emerald colured waters, has no roads and remains very unspoilt, rivaling the island of Fernando de Noronha (northern Brazil) in terms of outstanding beauty. Ilha Grande is a great destination for honeymoons in Brazil.
Further along the coast of the Costa Verde is Parati, one of Brazil's prettiest small colonial towns. Fishing boats in the harbour mixed with the whitewashed colonial buildings make this an extremely beautiful town. There's also lovely nearby beaches, and boat trips to islands that can be arranged. Slightly further along the coast, the colonial Trindade is not quite as beautiful, but it does have better nearby beaches, and is a popular hippy-style hangout resort popular with backpackers. There's plenty of cheap hotels in town.
Florianopolis, Southern Brazil
Santa Catarina Island is famous for having some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, in addition to the best surfing. This part of Brazil is also famed for it's beautiful people, many of them blond and blue eyed. Florianopolis is the main town and gateway for travel to numerous nearby beaches, of which there are over 40 in total - some busy with surfers, others good for watersports and others peaceful and empty - there's a huge variety. The coast to the North of Florianopolis is dotted with small beach resorts and hotels, such as those of Porto Belo, Itapema, Camboriu (which is now rather overdeveloped) and the port town of Itajai. 120km South of Florianopolis is the small holiday resort of Laguna, while inland there are great opportunities for hiking, rural tourism and visiting colonial towns.