Eco-tourism and desert beaches at Ilha de Marajó, Pará

On the way to Ilha do Marajó

On the way to Ilha do Marajó

Ilha de Marajó is in fact a huge group of island slocated in the coast of Pará, not far away from state capital Belem. Marajó is a temptating mixture of eco-tourism and beaches. Thanks to the fact of being a very big and wide area there is plenty of space for everybody and you will rarely feel like being in a growded tourism destination. The access to Ilha de Marajó is done from Belem with daily ferry connections, generally departing very early in the morning and in the afternoon (check daily schedules). Reaching Marajó takes about 3-3½ hours depending on the winds and yes you will be crossing the river, not a sea, even if it may not look like it. An another, quicker option to reach Marajó is to take a catamaran, which also operates on daily basis excluding Wednesdays. A catamaran trip takes aproximately 2 hours. If you have flexibility with schedules, opt for the early morning departures both ways, even if you had to wake up before the sunrise. Later on the afternoon the winds tend to be stronger and a heavily swinging boat is not something rare at all.

Water buffalo eating

Water buffalo eating

The ferry boats arrive to the port of Camará from where you have to take a transfer (bus, van or taxi) to your final destination. Where to stay then? Most of the tourists stay either in Souré or in Salvaterra, which of these two is better then? The answer is simple, make sure that you will stay in the side of Souré where all the principal tourist attractions and the best accommodation options of the island are located. Salvaterra and Souré are separated by a river, just like all the other islands of the group. Crossing the river is easy as a motorized boat takes you to the other side of the river at any time needed and with a nominal cost.

Tropical birds

Tropical birds

The speciality of Ilha de Marajó are the water buffalos that long time ago where transported from Africa and adapted easily in the climate starting to reproduce on the island. Don’t forget to visit one of the “fazendas” (farms, like Fazenda São Jerónimo, Fazenda Sanjo, Fazenda Araruna or Fazenda Bom Jesus) of the island, which are excellent points to observe wildlife, especially birds and taking boat excursions along the narrow rivers/streams surrounded by mangrove vegetation. Most of the fazendas also offer options for light trekking and horseback riding, if you are an adventure minded traveller you can also try out riding a buffalo. A visit to Marajó takes you very close to the nature, as it’s present basically anywhere you go and luckily until now the human life has not destroyed this fantastic eco-system.

Praia do Pesquiero

Praia do Pesquiero

If you want to enjoy the wide beaches of Ilha do Marajó try to place you travel between July and December, this is the dry and hot season on the island and naturally also the best time to enjoy these marvellous beaches of freshwater. The most popular beaches are Praia do Pesquiero and Barra Velha, both of them located in the island of Souré. Praia do Pesquiero is a 3 km long beach, where a number of natural swimming pools can be found during the tide water. Barra Velha is minor, but it definitely is hard to say which of these two is more picturesque,  it’s all up to your personal taste. What makes Barra Velha attracting is the mixture of  magrove trees, streams and the tide water that forms a sort of sand island in the middle of the river. Both of these beaches are located further away from the heart of the village so that you will need to take some sort of transportation (taxi, mototaxi, bicycle) to reach them. Mototaxi is probably the simplest way to get moved from one place to another while you stay in Marajó. On your way to Barra Velha, you will cross a place called “Landing field of Guarás”, where a large number of these beautiful red birds, “Guarás”, can be seen. Like most of the brazilian beaches both these also have rustic beaches bars serving ice-cold drinks, snacks and meals, so that you can easily spend an entire day enjoying the sun, the tranquility and the smooth waves of the river.

Praia do Joanes

Praia do Joanes

Barra Velha

Barra Velha

Beside of these two most popular beaches, a distant beach of Praia do Araruna, wellknown of its’ extend mangrove vegetation is located at the side of Souré, but can only be reached via fluvial access. On the side of Salvaterra the most interesting beach is Praia de Joanes, located in the village of Joanes. This is where the old ruins, first signs of inhabitations on the island can be found as well. Compared to the beaches of Souré, Joanes has generally stronger waves and more green vegetation. It’s worth visiting, even though on our opinion is not comparable to Praia do Pesquiero or Barra Velha.

As a conclusion we would like to point out that Marajó is worth visiting even if the access from Belem is long and tiring. Ilha do Marajó is a destination for an open minded traveller, who will not be disturbed even if the highest class and the widest option of services may not be available. When travelling to Ilha do Marajó the motive of your trip should be the nature, if so you will not be dissappointed, Marajó is still an authentic paradise on the earth!

Boats at the beachside

Boats at the beachside

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Casarão da Amazônia – A lovely colonial style pousada in the hearth of Souré with excellent price-quality relation. One of the best options to stay in, if not the best!
  • Pousada O Canto do Francês – A good quality rustic pousada just a step away from the center of Souré.

Tropical Islands of Tinharé and Boipeba, Bahia

The port of Morro de São Paulo

The port of Morro de São Paulo

The island of Tinhare is located in Bahia, almost in front of the state capital Salvador. This geographical fact makes it an excellent place to be combined for example with city break in Salvador or with an active hiking holiday in the National Park of Chapada Diamantina. The principal village of the island is Morro de São Paulo, which connects to the continent either by sea or by air. The small airport of the island receives single engine aircrafts proceeding from Salvador, and the port is a destination of catamarans and speed boats carrying both passangers and the goods to the island. A flight to the island takes only about 25 minutes and an average time of a sea transfer is about 2½ – 3 hours, depending on the weather conditions. Both, the catamarans and the speed boats leave from the port right behind the Mercado Modelo market in Salvador. We do recommend you to choose catamaran if possible, as the speed boat is a way more sensible and you will easily suffer the sea sickess.

The beaches of Morro de São Paulo

The beaches of Morro de São Paulo

Upon the arrival, it will be easy to notice that you have arrived to a tropical paradise. The island with altitude differences is filled with palms trees and tropical vegetation. As there is no asphalt, no cars on the island, a number of men with wheelbarrows are waiting for you in port and paying few coins they will take the luggage to your pousada. The main village is filled with small and charming pousadas of all the levels. The streets are sandy and the names of the principal beaches are as original as:  beach 1, beach 2, beach 3 and beach 4. Beach 2 is the most popular beach, when it comes to the beach life, bars and restaurants. Beach 4 on the other hand is the most distant one that offering peace and tranquility. In case you are into something in between choose the beach 3. It allows you an easy access to the services of the village and offers quality accomodation in harmony with the nature.

Beach side

Beach side

What to do on the island then? Walk along the beaches, swim and enjoy snorkeling in the clear waters. You can also visit the ruins of a historic fortress located close to the port, practise horseback riding or stroll along the paths all the way to a waterfall located in the middle of the island. One of the most interesting day trips is a boat ride to the near by island of Boipeba. The first stop of the tour is the natural swimming pool, a great place to observe the tropical fish in bright colors. After that the rubber boat continues to Boipeba, a beautiful and unspoiled neighbouring island. Here you will walk along the coastline, have a chance to take a bath and enjoy the beach life while having your lunch. If you prefer absolute peace and unobstructed touch with nature, you may even consider staying over night at Boipeba in stead of Morro de São Paulo. This island is less touristic and has less services available, but the small and cosy pousadas will make sure that your stay is going to be comfortable enough. Boipeba is the destination of  your urban escape, when the only things you want to hear are the proper sounds of the nature.

Boipepa

Boipepa

Back to Morro de São Paulo….Once the night falls, the bars on the second beach will receive both the locals and the tourists. At late night the show goes on in an old amphitheatre nowadays called just Teatro. This kind of open air “night club” located a short walk from the village in midst of a tropical biodiversity offers an easygoing atmospheare for those willing to discover the island’s night life. No matter whether you decide to stay calm and lay down in the hammock of your pousada or walk back from Teatro to your accommodation in the village, the thousand stars of this paradise island will light your way!

Other Bahia related blog posts and destinations combining perfectly with Tinharé and Boipeba:

Our suggested itineraries including the islands of Tinharé and Boipeba.

View over the sea

View over the sea

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Solar do Morró – A good tourist class pousada located in the heart of the village close to the beaches and to the services.
  • Pousada Minha Louca Paixão – Lovely pousada with prime location at the 3rd beach of Morro de São Paulo.
  • Pousada Portalo – A high quality pousada with up hill location and great views. Portalo offers apartments, suites and bungalows with pleasant pool area.
  • Pousada Vila dos Orixas – Vilas dos Orixias is a quality pousada located in a distant beach of Encanto. It offers bungalow accommodation and is an excellent choice for those looking for tranquility.
  • Pizzaria da Mercedes, Forno e Lenha – Delicious pizzas. If you offer any other meal, they are delicious as well, but be prepared to wait, it may take a while…
  • Restaurante Tia Dadai – Traditional restaurant, close to the main square of the village, serving tasty Bahian food.
  • Pousada Almaviva, Boipeba – A small colonial house which was fully renovated respecting the old style and today serves the travellers who want to enjoy cosy good old days style accommodation. A charming choise, just about 5 minutes walk from the beach.
  • Pousada Horizonte Azul, Boipeba – Pousada Horizonte Azul is located in the middle of the tropical gardens and is a perfect place for full relaxation.
  • Pousada Mangabeiras, Boipeba – Distant top hill location of this pousada guarantees a relaxing stay with all the comforts.

Paradise on the Earth: Fernando de Noronha, Pernambuco


Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha

The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha lies in the Atlantic ocean, about 360 km from the city of Natal, being the eastest inhabited point of Brazil. The volcanic archipelago is both a beach and eco-tourism destination. Year after year the beaches of Fernando de Noronha are among the most beautiful ones of Brazil and thanks to the rich marine life of the archipelago it’s with no doubt Brazil’s best diving and snorkeling spot.

The only way to reach Fernando de Noronha is by air and the connections from the continent leave either from Natal or from Recife. The flying time is about an hour. Fernando de Noronha applies a tourist tax which can be paid before arrival via internet or at the airport. The amouth of the tax is about 33 R$ per day and to avoid queues, we do recommend you to pay the tax in before hand. Basically all the pousadas (=brazilian guesthouse) include airport transfers in the basic price of the stay, so therefore you do not need to worry about the transportation once you arrive to Noronha. At the airport you will meet a large number of agencies offering tours and activities. It’s a good idea for you to pick some brochures in order  to get an idea of all the activities available in the island.

Baía do Sancho

Baía do Sancho

When talking about Fernando de Noronha, it’s good to remember that we talk about a National Park and the fragile nature of this paradise island is highly protected. For an ordinary tourist this means that you will probably not find any other cleaner beach from Brazil than the beaches of Fernando de Noronha. On the other hand, it’s also good to remember that you will also be responsable of keeping them clean, otherwise high penalties will apply. Don’t expect to find a hotel located right on the beach, nor beach servicies with chairs and bars. At Fernando de Noronha the beaches are protected and no building are allowed on the beach. Basically the only so called “beach bar” can be found from the beach of Praia do Meio and the centrally located Praia do Cachorro may have locals selling drinks and light snacks as well.

Praia do Leão

Praia do Leão

Dois Irmãos

Dois Irmãos

The three most beautiful Brazilian beaches (rated by the Brazilian authorities) can be found from Fernando de Noronha. The number one, Baía do Sancho, can be reached either by sea or by descending ladders hanging in between two rocks. This color of water is a mixture of turquoise, green and light blue, and you may observe a large number of tropical fish while swimming or snorkeling around. The second most beautiful beach is Baía dos Porcos, located next to Baía do Sancho. Both of them offer some most espectacular views over the coast and the sea. Baía dos Porcos, which is located in front of the famous rocks called “Dois Irmãos“, has a number of natural swimming pools and it also excellent for snorkeling. The last but not the least at the top three is a beach called Praia do Leão.  This beach, located in the southeastern part of the Fernando de Noronha is the longest one of the island and the color of water is deep blue. This is where the sea turtles come to lay their eggs on the beach.  To reach all these and many other beaches for the first time it’s recommendable to have a local guide with you. One of the most popular excursions in Fernando de Noronha is a tour around the island, which takes you to all the famous beaches and ends up to being an excellent way to get to know the island.

Conceisão

Conceisão

The main attraction of Noronha is the nature, especially the under water life. This makes the island to be the best diving and snorkeling destination of the country. Some of the best beaches to observe the marine wild life year around are Praia Atalaia and Praia Sueste. Praia Atalaia is practically a natural aquarium and located within the National Park area. That’s why a limited number of person (30) is allowed to visit this it on daily basis. Praia Sueste on the other hand is the calmest beach of the island allowing diving and snorkeling at any time of the year. Like all around Fernando de Noronha, here diving is also limited to certain areas in order to protect the coral reefs. The island of Fernando de Noronha is also very popular among surfers, being the beach of Conceicão one of the best options for surfing. The wawes are ideal from December to February and this is also one of the best points to enjoy spectacular sunsets of the island. For those that are not into water sports Fernando de Noronha offers options for hiking, horseback riding or deep sea fishing. Dolpins can be seen either early in the morning at the bay of Baía dos Golfinhos or day time during boat excursions organized by the travel agencies.

Check out our itinerary suggestions including the island of Fernando de Noronha.

Sunset

Sunset

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Algas Marinhas – a small pousada located in Floresta Nova, close the to village of Vila dos Remedios. Helpfull staff together with rooms decorated with good taste and quality materials makes this pousada an excellent value for money.
  • Pousada Solar dos Ventos – wooden bungalows located in the southern part of the island with views over the the bay of Baía do Sudeste. An excellent choice for those willing to have full privacy during their stay.
  • Dolphion Hotel – Dolphin offers hotel standard accommodation with rustic charm of pousadas respecting the surrounding nature. Location just a short step away from the landmark of Noronho, Morro do Pico.
  • Pousada Zé Maria – If you want to spoil yourself with the best that Fernando de Noronha has to offer choose Pousada Zé Maria with prime location on the island.
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