One of the best things I’ve done in a while was park myself (with 9 family members) on the beach in Brazil during the first week of the year. It was a perfect respite from the hurried lifestyle in California, and it turned out to be hugely rejuvenating for both my husband and me. Here’s a peek at our Brazil beach vacation with tips below:
My sister-in-law loves to go to the beach. She lives in the insane city of São Paulo and considers her time on the coast (which she visits frequently because she owns a small vacation apartment) to be essential to her mental health. When we floated the idea of adding a family trip to our annual stay in Brazil, she insisted we make it a beachside vacation.
Add some of my favorite people in the world — nine family members ranging in age from 5 to 70 — and lots of downtime to chat, read a book, or play a game. The energy of the nature there combined with the chance to completely decompress made this just the right vacation for me at that time.
Where to stay on the coast of Brazil:
When taking a beach vacation in Brazil, it’s hard to choose where to go. The coastline is enormous, and just about every inch is beautiful. The beaches around Recife, Trancoso and Paraty are all good choices, but we decided on something farther south.
The Litoral Norte region of the state of São Paulo, part of the Costa Verde (“Green Coast”) runs from the state of Rio de Janeiro down to São Paulo. It gets its name from the green jungly hills that hug this part of the Brazilian coast. It’s a beautiful place–I was there once on my first visit to Brazil back in 2000.
We chose the small town of Maresias. When we arrived, we instantly felt at home. The hotel was welcoming, comfortable, and best of all, located right on the water.
As in most places I’ve visited in Brazil, this town had a bit of an artsy edge to it, not unlike the laid-back vibe you can find in Hawaii, especially Kauai. Not surprisingly, surfing is big here. In fact, Maresias is also where professional surfer Gabriel Medina was born and raised.
Should you stay in an all-inclusive hotel in Brazil?
All-inclusive hotels are a popular choice in Brazil, and many of them are very nice but also expensive. We opted for a hotel right in town that was not all-inclusive. Breakfast and beach access are included, but other meals and drinks were up to us. What transpired over those five days was a steady rotation of the following: a delicious buffet breakfast, morning beach time or mini-adventures to nearby beaches, afternoon drinks and dinner at the hotel patio plus playtime at the pool (overlooking the sea), and sunset viewing on the beach.
When to go to the beach in Brazil:
Brazilians love to go to the beach, so you can expect crowds any weekend, especially when they have holidays. We went on the day after New Year’s Day and spent a couple of extra hours in the car thanks to the heavy traffic. January and July are the busiest months for travel in Brazil.
Summer (our winter) in Brazil usually means daily afternoon rainstorms, but we were very fortunate to have little rain during our stay except for a couple of big storms. If you go in their winter, you can expect lower temperatures and more rain, and in their summer, expect very high temps and humidity plus frequent thunderstorms.
What to eat on the beach in Brazil:
On the beach, bring cash to buy some beach treats, such as água de coco or coconut water (above), fried fish strips, fried manioc, roasted cashews, açaí and ice-cold beer (cerveja).
One unexpected delight of our stay at Hotel Amora in Maresias was the food — typical Brazilian fare like salads with heart of palm, fried fish and strips of cassava served with lime wedges on the beach. I finally tried camarão na moranga, or shrimp with a creamy tomato sauce served in a pumpkin. So good! And in typical Brazilian fashion, it was all so family friendly.
Day trips from Maresias:
One day we ventured to Praia das Calhetas, a beach that’s only accessible by parking along the highway and then walking down a long footpath. The vegetation along the way down was stunning, and once at the beach, we found tide pools and, after a short hike, a waterfall in the hills above the beach. We spent several hours here, a highlight of the trip.
Another morning, my husband, nephew Lucas, and I spent several hours exploring other beaches nearby, including one that was nearly deserted and looked out toward a lush green island.
The adventurer in me wanted to keep busy, exploring the areas in search of interesting beaches and hikes. But the slow pace of a real beach vacation won me over, and it was the warm, perfectly blue water and those slow hours hanging out with my in-laws that I’ll always remember about this trip.
When was the last time you took a vacation just to relax? Where did you go? I’d love to hear!