A balneario is a Latin American seaside resort town, although they may also occur along great lakes, rivers and at hot springs. In Spain balneario typically only refers to spa town resorts. Whatever the case these, resorts offer recreation, sports, entertainment, food, hospitality and safety services, retail and cultural events. These balneario towns are characterized by being flooded by masses of tourists during the summer seasons.
Balnearios may be as simple as a beach or as complex as a planned city. Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta are balneario city-destinations, for example, while San Alfonso del Mar is a more planned resort community and Viña del Mar is a city that also happens to be a balneario. Balnearios are characterized by having beaches, hot climates, being seasonal destinations, attracting foreign tourists, and having boom periods surrounding festivals. The word comes from Spanish, and the difference between a "playa" (beach) and a balneario is the services provided at the balneario.
Some balnearios have been closed in recent years due to high levels of pollution and trash. These popular usually public resorts are often politicized. This is since they provide recreation for the masses at any income level due to their a la carte availability of amenities. Some politicians will even support their expansion during recessions because of how volatile the repercussions would be to not support them. New balnearios of the hot springs kind and others are often touted as job creating business expanding measures by local councils.
Playa versus balneario 
A beach is simply a stretch of shoreline, usually sandy, while a balneario has amenities. It is a specific recreational destination with features such as bathrooms, lifeguards, changing rooms, and picnic tables.
Famous balnearios 
- Mar del Plata, Argentina
- Copacabana/Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Viña del Mar/Algarrobo, Chile
- La Serena/Coquimbo, Chile
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Acapulco, Mexico
- Cancún, Mexico
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- Progreso, Mexico
- Playa del Cármen/Cozumel, Mexico
- La Paz/Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
- San Bernardino, Paraguay
- Punta del Este, Uruguay
- Lake Titicaca, Peru/Bolivia
- Salinas, Ecuador
- Podrían cerrar el balneario Figueroa, La Mañana Neuquén newspaper, (Spanish)
- Los balnearios y su uso electoral por UPN, Noticias de Navarra (Spanish)
- Comenzó la obra de la puesta en valor del Balneario Norte, Diario El Argentino (Spanish)
- balneario entry, Real Academia Española (Spanish)
- playa entry, Real Academia Española (Spanish)