From Fortaleza to São Luís, passing through the charming town of Jericoacoara or the splendid Lençóis do Maranhão, the real appeal of a vacation in Northeast Brazil is that it still remains largely unexploited. Indeed, a semi-arid climate with an average temperature of 28°C all year round, as well as a shortened rainy season from just April to June, means that this is a choice destination for vacationers.
There is an amazing coastline of deserted sandy beaches lined with sand dunes as far as the eye can see. Drive along in a 4×4 or buggy leaving from Fortaleza, and take in the first class views. In this region, we have chosen Jericoacoara, and the fabulous Lençóis do Maranhão, 4hrs drive from São Luís. This desert of dunes, that you can discover barefoot, has the unique feature of being dotted with freshwater lagoons created by the rains between May and October.
If you travel to this part of the Northeast you will enjoy exceptional weather conditions, in dream settings still totally untouched by mass tourism. These are off the beaten track trips for a vacation filled with thrills and emotions!
The coast from Fortaleza to São Luís
Set off on an adventure along the deserted beaches of Ceará to reach the mythical Jericoacoara
We suggest setting of from Fortaleza to discover the exceptional village of Jericoacoara. The trip is in two stages with a stop in the small fishing village of Guajiru.
Go by road with a driver, along the beach in a self driven buggy or in a 4×4 with a driver.
Kite surfers can extend the pleasure by doing a few “downwinds” along the way, an unforgettable experience.
Before leaving Fortaleza, you can stroll along the Beira Mar Avenue that follows the coastline, where you won’t be able to resist tasting a fresh lobster, shrimp or a delicious freshly grilled fish in one of the restaurants or at the fish market.
Welcome to Fortaleza – The land of light
Thanks to a daily direct flight with TAP (7 hrs from Lisbon), Fortaleza, the 5th largest town in Brazil, is easily reached by European vacationers.
The exceptional sunshine in this region makes Fortaleza a choice destination almost all year round, either for a few days in the sun or just for one night. For party goers Dragão do Mar is the quarter to be in and it’s also the cultural centre of the town. It is near the Praia de Iracema and the Meireles quarter, where the hotels we have chosen are located.
Visit one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Jericoacoara
Jericoacoara, a fishing village sitting in a little bay with calm and clear waters, near an enormous sand dune that changes colour in the sunset.
You get around on foot or by buggy in the sandy streets with no public lighting. Indeed, standard vehicles cannot cross the last few sandy kms. that seperate this little bay from the rest of the world.
“Discovered” in the 1970s, this idyllic village located 300km from the regional capital has contained its tourist activity all these years so as to retain its characteristic charm and authenticity. There are lots of different activities here, buggy excursions, horseback riding in the dunes or to the freshwater lagoons, kite surfing, stand-up paddle and windsurfing! Of course you have the local sand boarding, fun and exciting! There are also local craft shops to visit and Samba or Capoeira lessons for those interested. There is something for everyone here, lots of sports or just pure relaxation in the most beautiful natural surroundings.
Explore the authentic fishing village with a dream beach, Guajiru
Even less known than the larger town of Jericoacoara, this little fishing village seems frozen in time where traditional life continues unchanged.
Lost in the coconut trees 120 km from Fortaleza, this rather exclusive little place has awoken our curiosity. Even though the nearby village of Fleixeiras has been well known for quite a while, Guajiru is still isolated, facing the ocean, a few kms away. This relative isolation gives this magnificent beach an unmatched charm and it’s also what attracted the first kite-surfers. The geographical position is perfect for kite-surfing and it was the kite-surfers who helped launch tourism in Guajiru. It’s an ideal opportunity to stop for a couple of days and learn how to skim the water with the power of the wind!
The locals continue to live and work in their traditional ways alongside the high-tech kites floating in the sky. Subsistence fishing and agriculture are still the main activities here and you only have to wander the sandy streets to discover this seemingly eternal way of life. Guajiru is a genuine traditional village but for several years now it has offered quality hotels. The mix of traditional life and quality services attracts travelers looking for an authentic, calm but quality stay.
Explore the fascinating cultural heritage of Sáo Luís
São Luís is the capital of the state of Maranhão, the Northern part of the Northeast region which forms the boundary with Amazonia.
Originally founded by French colonizers who made their base here in 1612, this town has known the glory and the hard times of colonization, and then was forgotten. It has only just started recovering over the last 10-20 years. However it hides an amazing treasure.
Looking over the bay you will find one of the biggest colonial quarters of Portuguese architecture still standing in the world. It is thanks to this treasure that São Luís is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
You will discover a whole trove of local history while visiting these restored houses and museums and the ruins that show the true structure of the buildings. If you are interested in history, and want to know more about Brazil, you can go on a guided visit for a couple of hours which takes you back in time and captivates you in these surroundings.
Visit the breathtaking Lençóis desert
Visiting the National Park of Lençóis Maranhenses is a highlight of any trip around the Brazilian Northeast. This park of 156,584 hectares (roughly 30 x 50 km) is a natural wonder and is becoming one of the “must-see” destinations in Brazil.
Just a 4hr. drive from the Maranhense capital, you can discover one of the most magnificent and amazing deserts in the world ! With white, fine sand dunes, the Lençóis has the unique feature of being covered by small lagoons each rainy season. It is the layer of clay under the sand that keeps the rain water from draining away for months. The wind is constant from July to November, constantly changing the face of the dunes, an enchanting spectacle that never stops!
To reach the Lençóis desert, you first have to get to Barreirinhas, by road from São Luís. Then from Barreirinhas, you enter the park in a 4×4 vehicle that takes you along the track for about 45 min. This track can be flooded and bumpy depending on the season.
Apart from the first two lagoons (Azul & Peixe) where most of the tourists stop, you will be alone in the rest of this park and this adds to the magic of the place. You just have to pass a few dunes to find yourself in an immense magical place….When the lagoons are full of water, the spectacle is incredible. (The best time to visit is from June – the end of the rainy season). You can wander barefoot and bathe in the freshwater lagoons whenever you wish. No other desert in the world can offer such pleasure!