Thoughts in the U.S. may be turning to pumpkins, apple cider and candy, but south of the equator, summer is just heating up.

With the Southern Hemisphere's summer starting -- and Hispanic Heritage Month underway -- there's no better time to take a look at some of the best Latin American beaches, some world-famous and some lesser known.

A note about our methodology: While Mexico has plenty of wonderful beaches, we skipped over the country's offerings in order to look further afield. Hello, Uruguay!

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  • La Libertad, El Salvador

    One of the surf capitals of Central America, La Libertad offers plenty of action for visitors who ride. (AP Photo/Luis Romero)

  • Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

    Near the Golfo de Fonseca shared with El Salvador and Honduras, Corinto faces the Pacific -- rather than the protected Gulf -- and sees cooler water and better waves.

  • Playa Majagual, Nicaragua

    North of San Juan del Sur, this surfers' paradise appeals with rustic accommodations and great waves.

  • San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

    Probably the best-known beach in all of Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur is a magnet for wave-lovers. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Jaco, Costa Rica

    One of many surf-friendly beaches in the province of Puntarenas, this part of the Pacific draws wave riders from around the world.

  • Mancora, Peru

    At the northern tip of Peru, this somewhat hidden gem often gets overlooked due to the big draw of Machu Picchu.

  • Lima, Peru

    Frenetic Lima is, like Los Angeles, home to some wonderful urban beaches that often get overlooked because of the city's bustle.

  • Reñaca, Chile

    On summer weekends, it seems like all of Chile (and Western Argentina, for that matter) descend on this fantastic coastal resort town just outside Valparaiso. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

  • Anakena, Chile

    The only beach in South America with monolithic statues, this is Easter Island's only real stretch of sand.

  • Mar del Plata, Argentina

    The Hamptons of Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata gets booming every summer.

  • Punta del Este, Uruguay

    Home to international jet setters and Brazilians with more money than sense, Punta also has some of Uruguay's prettiest manicured beaches.

  • Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

    Long a backpacker "secret," this idyllic enclave near the Brazilian border is getting more and more tourists as development ramps up.

  • Jurerê, Brazil

    The beaches of Florianópolis are some of Brazil's best, which is saying a lot for a country with more than 4,500 miles of coastline.

  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Like Lima, Rio's blessed with urban beaches that play a vital central role in the life of the city.

  • Fortaleza, Brazil

    In Northern Brazil, this city has two great urban beaches, Praia de Iracema and Meireles.

  • Bocas del Toro, Panama

    Off the coast of Panama, Bocas offers seclusion and relaxation.

  • Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

    Far enough from the mainland that many residents speak English as their first language, lovely Little Corn is ringed by sand and coconut trees.

  • Placencia, Belize

    Rightly popular, this long peninsula in central Belize has beautiful sand and blessedly little to do but lay back in a hammock and relax.

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