Top 10 Brazilian beaches

beaches2Brazil boasts close to 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) of coastline and more than 2.000 beautiful Atlantic beaches, most of them lying beneath palm trees in the tropics. Including Praia do Cassino (Rio Grande – RS), according Guiness Book of Records the worlds largest beach.

To make a top 10 list of the most beautiful Brazilian beaches
Though our Brasilbar team has been fortunate to visit many Brazilian beaches, it has decided to rely on various sources to select a top 10:
Tripadvisor, The Guardian, CNN, Frommer, Guia Quatro Rodas, various Brazilian magazines and travel organizations.
We made it a top 10+ list:

  1. Fernando do Noronja (PE)
  2. Praia do Espelho (BA)
  3. Praia de Taipus de Fora (BA),
  4. Porto de Galinhas (PE)
  5. Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande (RJ)
  6. São Miguel dos Milagres (AL)
  7. Praia dos Carneiros, Ilha de Santo Aleixo (PE)
  8. Jericoacoara (CE)
  9. Alter do Chão (PA)
  10. Praia da Pipa (RN)
  11. Arpoador, Rio (RJ)

fernandoFernando do Noronja
Paradise is the word most commonly used to describe Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago 350km off the north-east coast of Brazil. Finding a nice beach is an easy task on the small volcanic island, but visiting three is mandatory: Praia do Sancho, which is reached through a crack in a rock wall; Baía dos Porcos (Pig’s Bay), a place of astonishing beauty and great for swimming; and Atalaia, a natural saltwater pool with abundant sea life. All have translucent waters, and because tourist numbers to the islands are strictly monitored, it is easy to spot turtles, octopuses, a plethora of fish and even sharks. The food chain in Noronha is well preserved, so sharks are less dangerous here there than elsewhere. (source: The Guardian)

praia do espelhoPraia do Espelho, Caraíva, Bahia
There’s an adage with remote Brazilian beaches: first go the hippies, then the yachties, then the French … Caraiva is still at the happy-hippy stage of discovery and even then only for a brief period in the summer. 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. The beach stretches uninterrupted for more than a day’s walk in either direction – north as far as the much-hyped village of Trancoso and south to Corumbau. Golden sands lead down to the water where a firm surf pushes relentlessly against the shore and provides the soundtrack to the handful of idyllic beach bars. And then, of course, there are the goalposts that remind you that you are in Brazil. (source: The Guardian)

taipus de foraTaipus de Fora, Maraú peninsula, 113km (70 miles) south of Salvador, Bahia
The 1,100km coastline of the state of Bahia is speckled with spectacular beaches. I love long beach walks and my favourite is Taipus de Fora on the Maraú Peninsula. The long sweep of beach ends at a headland where beautiful reef pools are exposed by the receding tide, revealing a huge naturally sheltered pool, offering wonderful snorkelling and tropical fish. South, past the headland, the sandy beach goes on and on, and I walk on and on, stopping off for a refreshing dip. On my return, I always stop in at the Bar das Meninas, a cool restaurant bar located in front of the reef pool with a creative seafood menu, breezy cocktails and chilled beers. Maraú is an indigenous word meaning the “sun’s light at daybreak”. Even more spectacular though is the light at the rising of the full moon. Here the moon seems nearer and larger than it should be, flooding the beach and tide pools in soft light. (source: The Guardian)

porto de galinhasPorto de Galinhas, 70km (43 miles) South of Recife (PE)
Porto de Galinhas is one of the nicest beach destinations in all the Northeast. Known for its crystal-clear water, its lovely beaches, and the tidal pools that form in the nearby reefs, the region is a perfect water playground for adults and children. Development has been kept resolutely small-scale. With no high-rises, the town is mostly small pousadas and low-rise hotels. The town has perhaps six streets: enough for a dozen restaurants, a bank, some surf shops, and some beachside bars. Colorful jangadas (one-sail fishing rafts) come and go all day, and the beachside restaurants and cafes are packed with people soaking up rays. (source: Frommers)

lopes mendesLopes Mendes, Ilha Grande, Rio state
Ilha Grande – big island – is home to Lopes Mendes, the beach of your dreams, a sweeping 3km of the whitest, finest sand that stretches out to a calm, crystal blue ocean. With not a building or restaurant in sight, Lopes Mendes is lined with palm and almond trees offering only a little shade. Bathers will need to take plenty of suntan lotion, snacks and a good book – although there are always a couple of drinks sellers peddling chilled beers. Getting there involves a three-hour bus journey from Rio to Angra dos Reis then a hop on the ferry to Ilha Grande. A scenic 40-minute boat trip takes you to Abraão, the island’s only town. Once in Abraão take a small taxi-boat to Manges beach, the last boat stop before Lopes Mendes. Landing on the beach, walk up over a hill and then down through a small forest to the beach. As you walk out of the forest, the beach is right in front of you in all its glory. (source: The Guardian)

praia de gungaSão Miguel dos Milagres, near Maceio, Alagoas
Praia do Toque is one of the favourite beaches of Ricardo Freire, author of 100 Praias Que Valem a Viagem (100 Beaches You Must Visit).
São Miguel dos Milagres fringes 15km of beaches protected both by reefs and the lack of a highway – the main coastal road turns inland, and only those in the know take the local road that leads to a forest of coconut trees and scattered villages. The sea is always warm; up to 36ºC at low tide in mid-afternoon – thalassotherapy for free! Set up base at Praia do Toque and walk the sands nearby. Twenty minutes north is Tatuamunha river, a sanctuary for manatees. Forty minutes south are two picture-perfect crescents: São Miguel and Praia do Riacho. At low tide hire a jangadeiro (a small traditional fishing boat) and head to the tidal pools. (source: The Guardian)

carneirosPraia dos Carneiros, Ilha de Santo Aleixo, Recife (PE)
About an hour south of Recife, Tamandare is an unpretentious beach town with a shore you can wander for miles and explore nearby wetlands.
A couple miles from town, you’ll find one of the most idyllic coastal stretches in Brazil.
Tucked into a grove of palms off a dirt road, Praia dos Carneiros looks like it escaped from a South Seas postcard.
The white sand beach faces a small, lagoon-style bay that’s great for swimming. The water is bathtub-warm, and there are no waves to contend with.
Leaning, long-frond palms form a picturesque colonnade down the shoreline.
Watercraft are available for rent, and boat tours of the bay and wetlands are a great way to get to know the area.
Carneiros’s superb natural setting is perfect for a quiet, not chaotic, day at the beach.
The secret to the tranquility is that Carneiros is a private beach. It and the area around it are owned by a single family, which has managed to keep it from being overrun. It’s not cheap — $30 a day per car, and the only on-site food is also pricey, but the serenity and scenery are worth it.
A day at one of Brazil’s best beaches doesn’t get much more relaxing than this. (source: CNN)

jericoacoaraJericoacoara (CE)
The pearl of Brazil’s Ceará coast, Jericoacoara’s attraction is partially its isolation. If you can manage the 4WD drive through the sands, you’re rewarded with miles and miles of unspoiled beaches, rock formations, lagoons, mangroves, palm trees, and a Sahara desert landscape of beautiful dunes. (source: Frommers)

Alter do Chão, Santarem (PA)
Brazil’s best beach is not in Rio de Janeiro or the sun-bathed north-east. It’s not even on the coast. It is on a river at the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Around 30km from the rainforest city of Santarem, Alter do Chao is the jungle’s answer to the Caribbean.
alter do chaoAfter a week holed up in the jungle, Alter do Chao is the perfect place to relax: you can lounge on the river beaches in the morning, gorge yourself on a local grilled fish in the afternoon and retreat to one of the area’s many charming pousadas by night. People often call the humid and dense Amazon the “green inferno”. Alter do Chao is its golden paradise. (source: The Guardian)

praia de pipaPraia da Pipa, Natal (RN)
Located 80km (50 miles) south of Natal by road (or a mere 55km/34 miles if you go by beach buggy), Praia da Pipa is one of the most picturesque beaches in all of Brazil’s Northeast. This former fishing village was discovered by surfers back in the 1970s, and developed in the decades since, without yet overdeveloping. Though the town does fill up on weekends and holidays, Pipa’s pousadas and hotels remain manageable and small-scale. The village of Pipa is well known for its nighttime activity, and for the cafes and restaurants lining its cobblestone streets. Down on the long crescent beach are natural pools and reefs for snorkeling. Traveling south from Pipa one finds a string of beaches — Praia do Amor, Praia do Moleque — snuggling at the foot of tall coastal cliffs. The cliff-top drive from Pipa to Praia do Cunhaú is spectacular. (source: Frommers)

arpoadorArpoador, Ipanema/Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
At the end of Ipanema when the traffic curves round to Copacabana, pedestrians can carry on walking to Arpoador. A continuation of Ipanema beach, Arpoador ends with a tall rocky headline, an easy 60m climb, offering stunning views of the whole length of Ipanema, Leblon and the famous Dois Irmãos mountain. From the pavement wooden steps lead you down to the sandy beach, a favourite with surfers, body surfers and local bathers (most tourists stick to Ipanema or Copacabana). Arpoador is one of the few beaches which is lit up at night so a late night dip is also a possibility. End the day sipping a caipirinha and nibbling on a prawn pastel on one of the outdoor tables at the Azul Marinho restaurant, the only beachside restaurant in Arpoador and Ipanema, with a fantastic ocean view where you can also watch groups of local kids practicing capoeira and small bands of musicians. (source: The Guardian)

Top 10 best snorkeling locations in Brazil

If you bring a mask and snorkel to Brazil, there are always calm coves worth poking around. The warm waters of the Northeast have the best snorkeling. The Coral Coast, which extends from northern Alagaos into southern Pernambuco, offers a 135-kilometer (84-mile) stretch of protected reefs that are ideal for snorkeling. The beaches surrounding São Miguel dos Milagres and Maragogi, in Alagoas, and Tamandaré and Porto de Galinhas, in Pernambuco, are all terrific snorkeling destinations.
Waters tend to have best visibility in the summer months (between November and February). All of these destinations have diving operators that offer excursions, rental equipment, and lessons for beginners.

Locations (from north to south)

Maracajaú
Maracajaú is located about 50km from Natal, and it takes one hour to go there. This region is considered to be the best area for snorkeling and diving, near Natal.
There is a big area of reefs named Parrachos de Maracajaú (7km from the coast), an area of 13km2, with a deep varying between 1,8m and 3,2m, during low tide. The water temperature is in average 26°C, and the development of corals contribute to a rich marine fauna and flora, turning the region to an enormous, natural aquarium.
This scenery is idealistic of practicing Snorkeling and also Scuba Diving for beginners. Also more experienced scuba divers can enjoy the region’s very pleasant diving, with reference to the rich marine life, and the waters temperature and visibility.
Fernando de Noronha
200 miles off the northeastern coast lies a mountainous archipelago made up of 21 islands which are sparsely populated and still the much the way it was when the Portuguese settled here in the 1500s. This National Marine Sanctuary is a heavenly retreat for divers and snorkelers.
Due to its open ocean location, it provides pelagic fish and ocean mammals a wonderful refuge. The dive sites include shipwrecks, canyons, amazing volcanic rock and coral formations, a permanent wild dolphin colony, reef sharks, turtles, schooling barracudas and all kinds of rays and colorful fish. Cavort with 600 dolphins, the largest and oldest residential school of spinner dolphins in the world. Dive with juvenile sharks at Lage Dois Irmaos, a breeding and nursery area for fourteen species of reef sharks. The sharks come into this protected area to have their young and the newborn stay to play with divers until they are big enough to venture into the open ocean. You may also witness turtles being released into the wild. Explore the Ipiranga, a Brazilian Navy Corvete, a sunken Portuguese frigate and much, much more. The rock formations are brilliantly colored with encrusting sponges and provide a beautiful backdrop for each of your dives.
Recife-Olinda
The Recife-Olinda region offers excellent all year round sites for scuba diving and snorkelling. Marine life is very abundant in this region, but sharks are common and the sea is often rough (there are many ancient shipwrecks, waiting for divers to explore them…)
If you aren’t an experienced diver, you may prefer other alternatives, some of which not far from Recife, as Porto Galinhas.
Porto Galinhas
Porto de Galinhas is a very friendly diving site, excellent both for scuba beginners and advanced divers. Here, in Porto Galinhas, you will find diving courses and all year round conditions for diving.
Maragogi
Maragogi Beaches have calm waters, without strong waves, with coral reefs and fine sands. During low tide, sand banks emerge forming natural pools, known as Croas (5 km away from the coast) and Galés (6 km away). “Jangadas” (sailing boats typical of Northern Brazil) and boats can take tourists to these pools. On the beach’s southern tip, between Vila de Japaratinga and Pontal, visitors find the less urbanized beaches with 20-m high sea cliffs. Visitors can also go on a boat ride to coral reefs 6 km away from the coast. Maragogi beach is near Maragogi River, with calm waves, fine and flat sands and coral reefs.
Salvador
http://www.pousadavillaverde.com/scubadiving.htm
Ilha de Boipeba
Although only the Rio do Inferno (River of Hell) separates Ilha de Boipeba from the Ilha do Tinharé, where Morro de São Paulo is located, Boipeba is Morro de São Paulo as it was 20 years ago before an influx of tourism blew everything out of proportion. Its beautiful unspoiled beaches are framed by lush jungle and crisscrossed by warm rivers that are ideal for bathing.
Although Boipeba is becoming a hip beach resort for those in the know, it has managed to retain a bucolic tranquility along with some 20 kilometers (12 miles) of stunning white-sand beaches protected by coral reefs. The most “developed”—which, thankfully, isn’t saying much—is Boca da Barra. Here you’ll find lots of barracas where you can dig into fresh fish and seafood.
A half-hour walk brings you to the dazzling white sands of Tassimirim, followed by the blissfully deserted Praia de Cueira—both of which are ideal for snorkeling.
Abrolhos
Ideal for diving, the Archipelago of Abrolhos, a collection of volcanic islands and coral reefs located 45 miles off the southern coast of the state of Bahia, is the largest and most biologically diverse reef system in the South Atlantic.
Diving at the Abrolhos Bank is characterized by large, mushroom-shaped coral formations called chapeirões (big hats) found nowhere else in the world. The structures start in about 100 feet of water and reach almost to the surface, and nearly 50 percent of these corals are endemic.
Divers can visit the park and its surrounding reefs via the town of Caravelas–about 575 miles from Rio de Janeiro–on day or overnight trips.
Along with endemic marine life and unique coral structures, three popular wrecks–the Rosalinda, Santa Catharina and Guadiana–attract divers here, and from July to December, humpback whales from the Antarctic gather at the bank to mate and nurse their young.
Buzios
Buzios, a luxury beach resort destination just two hours drive north Rio de Janeiro, offers excellent places for diving. But the true regional pearl for diving in this region is Arraial do Cabo, less than 90 miles south of Rio de Janeiro.
Arraial do Cabo is in fact the best place for diving in Brazil’s south. With turquoise waters, teeming with marine life (turtles, moray eels, queen angelfish, sea horses…) and some dozens of lakes and old ship-wrecks, Arraial do Cabo is a truly world-class place for scuba diving.
Arraial do Cabo is an all year round. Many hotels in Rio de Janeiro and Buzios can arrange transportation and tours to Arraial do Cabo.
Ilha Grande
Near Sao Paulo you may enjoy some of the best scuba diving sites in Brazil, namely in Ilha Grande (Angra dos Reis region). Angra dos Reis – a luxury travel destinations – is a delightful destination with amazing forests, waterfalls, lakes, small fishing villages, secret coves, small beaches… and exceptional conditions for diving, namely in Ilha Grande, one of the many local small islands.
Here, in Ilha Grande, you may explore its local rich marine life, and also dozens of old ship-wrecks (european galleons sunken some hundred years ago as a result of battles involving pirates and colonial forces).
Ilha Grande is an all year round place for diving.
Bonito
Despite lying in the very heartland of Brazil, many miles from the coast, Mato Grosso do Sul is one of the country`s best diving destinations.
The towns of Bonito and Jardim boast the clearest waters in all of Brazil, with an enormous range of aquatic life and geographical features to atracct divers, from absolute beginners to the techinical level.
Cave diving experts have nothing to complain about either: Bonito and Jardim`s underwater caves are unique and unforgettable among the finest in the world.
Snorkeling is one of Bonito and Jardim`s major attractions. The best thing is to go with the flow along the riverbeds, observing the underwater fauna and flora, pretending to be a part of this fabulous ecosystem.