by Marcus Leach
Chances are that if you are heading to Brazil to follow England, or any other team for that matter, at the 2014 Fifa World Cup then you are going to spend some of your time on the nation's famed beaches. And why not, they are plentiful and beautiful, and if you are that way inclined a great place to spot some of the country's most beautiful women.
In fact, the Brazilian equivalent of 'just my cup of tea' (é minha praia) literally translates to 'that's my beach', which gives you an insight into just how important beaches are in their culture. And it is hardly surprising when you take into account the fact the country has over 8,000km of coastline, boasting some of the most naturally beautiful beaches in the world. With so many beaches to choice from, and everyone having a personal favourite no two 'best of' lists will be the same, but here are some of our favourites.
Copacabana (Rio de Janerio): No visit to Rio de Janerio would be complete without a visit to arguably the country's most famous beach, Barry Manilow even wrote a song about it, that's how famous it is. Rio is a beach city and this is epitomised by the Copacabana beach. Yes it is crowded and busy, but then so is Rio itself, and this is an extension of the city where you will find people from every walk of life in the skimpiest of costumes enjoying life. Be it swimming, soaking in the sun, dancing or playing football and volleyball, the locals just love being on the beach. A superb venue for people watching.
Lopes Mendes (Ilha Grande): They say nothing in life worth having is easy to get. In the case of Lopes Mendes it's nothing worth seeing is easy to get to. From Rio it requires a three hour bus journey to Angra dos Reis, followed by a scenic 40 minute boat trip to Ilha Grande (big island), where you take a final boat to Manges beach, from where you walk through the jungle to finally emerge onto one of the world's most picture perfect beaches. And yes, the effort is more than worth it.
Lagoinha do Leste (Florianópolis island): There is no shortage of choice when it comes to beaches on Florianópolis island, but there is something quite magical about Lagoinha do Leste, a deserted beach on the south of the island, reached only by an hour's hike. Backed by Atlantic rainforest, with dunes, sandbanks, a lake and rocky coastline it is a stunning beach. The added bonus is that you can camp there - there is no official campsite so just pitch your tent wherever takes your fancy.
Taipus de Fora (Bahia): If your idea of the perfect beach is long stretches of pristine white sand coupled with translucent turquoise waters then look no further, Taipus de Fora is where you need to be. Located on the sea side of the Marau Peninsula on the south coast of Bahia, this beach is a snorkeler's dream. As the tide ebbs, it leaves behind brilliant, turquoise reef pools perfect for viewing an assortment of colorful tropical fish. Fringed with luscious palms this is a little slice of heaven on earth.
Caraiva (Bahia): In an increasingly modernised world many of us like to seek out the last vestiges of a time gone by, and what better place to do that than Caravia. Sadly with such beautiful beaches this feeling may eventually be lost to developments, so make sure you go there now whilst it remains a sleepy fishing village blessed with a seemingly endless stretch of beach. No motorised transport is possible in Caraiva so the sounds that prevail are the breeze in the high almond trees and the exhaling of a dozen mules that pull the little carts that are the only alternative to walking.