Plenty of sun, long swathes of beautiful beach and the vast sand dunes around Jericoacoara epitomise the coastal region of the far north with the clean, friendly, but relatively uninspiring city of Natal as its capital. There are beaches to the north and south of Natal, but the beaches to the south tend to be more spectacular and although there are many, a couple of nice options include Ponta Negra and then further south, Praia da Pipa.
Although Recife has a strong and rich cultural tradition, it is generally overshadowed by its colonial neighbour Olinda , but the city is a gateway into this fascinating north eastern region of the country. As with Natal , there are a number of well known beaches to the north and south of the city, but arguably the best known and nicest beach is at Porto de Galinhas with its long, pretty beach lined with coconut palms and cashew nut trees. The city is also where you fly from to access the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
This little known corner of Brazil is not only home to beautiful beaches, but also to a fascinating blend of colonial elegance and the delightful town of Olinda is one of the best preserved colonial towns in Brazil and a real gem perched on the top of a hill overlooking Recife. The town became wealthy as a result of the sugar cane production in the area and, as witnessed in other wealthy towns, the rich merchants started to build a huge number of beautiful mansions, Baroque churches, fountains and some beautiful convents and monasteries to house the Carmelites, Jesuits and Benedictine religious orders. With its cobbled streets, shady plazas and overwhelming sense of history, Olinda is like a living open-air museum and was granted UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1982. Olinda’s ‘Frevo’ Carnival is also an extremely popular cultural event and although on a much smaller scale than Rio’s great spectacle, the carnival here is more participatory, more intimate and equally colourful, vibrant and entertaining.
Salvador, Ilheus & Trancoso:
The cultural delights of Salvador are well documented, but the seemingly endless coastline both to the north and in particular to the south of the city are also famed for its beautiful beaches. Some way north of the city is Praia do Forte, which was once an only fishing village, but has now been developed into a luxurious and ecologically sensitive beach resort offering a wide range of activities. To the south of Salvador are a number of little towns that are home to some delightful beaches and heavenly resorts with Ilheus and Port Seguro as the main gateways to the area.
The Green Coast:
For those seeking the golden beaches of the southern coast, the Costa Verde coastline, including the renowned Angra dos Reis area, with its myriad beaches, uninhabited islands and gin-clear waters is a natural paradise for swimming and boating.
In the south, Florianapolis, the capital of the state of Santa Catarina, is located on the west coast of Ilha de Santa Catarina and is linked to the mainland by the longest suspension bridge in Brazil. Travellers come to Ilha da Santa Catarina for the beaches, offering some of Brazil’s best surfing as well as wonderful bays with clear turquoise water. At Praia da Rosa one can enjoy the excitement of whale watching. Southern right whales give birth and nurse their young in these waters from June to November and Brazil’s first whale sanctuary was created here in 2000, encompassing a 130 km stretch of ocean.