Peaceful life at Ilha do Algodoal, Pará

Arrival to Ilha do Algodoal

Arrival to Ilha do Algodoal

Ilha do Algodoal is a small island located in Pará, one of the northern states of Brazil. In general Pará is well-known as eco-tourism destination, but the fact that it also offers cultural attractions and irresistable beaches, makes it an interesting destination for international tourism. Ilha do Algodoal is a mixture of eco-tourism and beaches. It’s a destination of an open-minded traveller, who is looking for once in a life time experiences. As soon as you arrive to Ilha do Algodoal and get transfered to your pousada by horse wagons, you will notice that tiny island is completely lost in time. A good proof of this is the electricity that came to the island just few years ago, and as motorized traffic doesn’t make part of the island life, you can only imagine how far away the rythms of life in Algodoal is from the rush and run of any big or any medium sized city.

Village of Algodoal

Village of Algodoal

Reaching this paradise requieres a little bit work, but is definitely worth it. The best access to the island is from Maruda, a small town located about 160 km from the state capital Belem. You can reach Maruda by a regular bus, which takes about 4-5 hours or by minibus/van when the journey takes about 2½-3 hours. Naturally a minibus/van is more recommendable even if it turns out to be slightly more expensive than the regular bus. The third option is to hire a private transfer, which of course is the most comfortable way of travelling and the arrival time will be planned according the departure time of the boats to Ilha do Algodoal. Once you reach Maruda you still have to take a boat across the river. The ride takes about 30-40 minutes and the departure times vary depending on the weekday, being generally few departures during the morning and the early afternoon. Once the boat arrives to the island of Algodoal several horse wagons are waiting for to transport the passangers to their final destinations. A horse ride a fantastic way to get used to the relaxed and easygoing atmospheare of this lovely island.

Praia da Princesa

Praia da Princesa

Even if the state of Pará is not wellknown as a beach destination, the beach of Princesa was recently chosen among the ten most beautiful beaches of Brazil. During the low tide you can reach Princesa either by walk or by hiring a ride with one of the many horse wagons operating around the island. When the tide is rising a small river has to be crossed by a rowboat. Here the sea water gets mixed with the rivers and therefore you will hardly notice any salty taste at all.  The color of the water may not be as bright as in many other brazilian beaches, but what makes Praia da Princesa special is a combination of several facts. This wide and long beach is surrounded by dunes, lies in a complete peace and harmony with the nature and has one of the most neverending kind of horizons for a traveller to admire. The beach bars serving clients are all rustic and outside of the high season (January & July) or the public holidays the beach can be basically yours. Once the sun goes down Praia da Princesa shows the another side of its’ beauty, here the sunsets are something spectacular. Due to the location close to the Equatorial the horizon seems to have no end at all, and the blue moment before the night falls is something to be remembered.

Lagoa da Princesa

Lagoa da Princesa

What are the other attractions of Ilha do Algodoal appart of the Praia da Princesa beach? The lagoon of Princesa is located in the middle of  the dunes and surroundedn by tropical vegetation, just about 30 minutes walk (or a short wagon ride) away from the beach. It’s a lovely place to visit and you can also enjoy a refreshing bath in the lagoon before starting your hike back to the beach. An another attraction requiring a longer hike is the village of Fortalezinha, located at the other end of the island. To reach Fortalezinha, you have three options: hire a local guide and hike approximately during two hours, take a wagon ride (approximately 1 hour) or a boat ride (approximately 30-40 minutes). Hiking is the best option if you wish to enjoy the pureness of the nature with all your instincts, but in this case it’s recommendable to start the journey as early as possible before the heat of the sun is insupportable. When reaching Fortalezinha, you will most probably see many species of birds, including beautiful red Guarás, be able to bath in the natural swimming pools during the low tide and enjoy the beach before returning back to the main village of Algodoal.

Beach at sunset

Beach at sunset

If you choose Ilha do Algodoal as your destination be prepared with a mosquito spray as there are a large number of all kind of insects in the island. Also do not expect to find a large variety of night life. On the weekends live Carimbo (a local dance) is played at the restaurant La Dune, while Raiz do Mangue concentrates on Reggae music, but that’s basically it. Algodoal is a place where you will mostly listen the sounds of the nature and easily forget everything related with your daily routines. Welcome to Ilha do Algodoal, one of our favourite destinations!

Colorful flowers

Colorful flowers

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Marhesias – A small pousada with 4 chalets surrended by tropical vegetation. The best option on the island with quality installations, stylish details and personalized treatment.
  • Chalets do Atlantico – Pousada offereing standard chalet accommodation, suitable especially for families or small groups.
  • Restaurante La Dune – A simple restaurant at the center of the village offering tasty home made food.
  • Bar & Restaurante Argentino – A recommendable bar at the beach of Princesa.

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.

Rio de Janeiro, Part I: Where to stay and not to stay.

The Marvellous City of Rio de Janeiro

The Marvellous City of Rio de Janeiro

During the short existence of Brazil Diversitys blog we have noticed that many of our readers are looking for detailed information about travelling in Rio de Janeiro. Therefore we decided to come up with this topic as soon as possible, even if there are plenty of other attractive places to visit in Brazil and it’s hard to choose in between them. With no doubt Rio de Janeiro is a marvellous city and has some of the most beautiful views in the world. It’s also a city of  huge contrats and probably due to this travelling to Rio always brings up some questions such as the security. When I first stepped the ground of Rio de Janeiro, I do had to admit that there is something unique and very special in marvellous city. The beauty of the city and the life style of the Cariocas (=native Rio born) left me speechless and fullfilled all my expectations. And it’s was just a start for a long term relations with Rio de Janeiro. So let’s get started!

There are two airports in Rio de Janeiro,  the centrally located airport of Santos Dumont serves only domestic flights and about 25 kilometers from the city you will find the airport of Galeão, serving both international and domestic flights. The simplest way to get to your accommodation is to book an arranged transfer in before hand or take a taxi. The yellow taxis of Rio de Janeiro are everywhere and they are reasonably priced. As anywhere in the world the first time tourist arriving to the international airport has a danger to become cheated by the taxi drivers. All the taxis do have a taxi meter, but the driver may not speak your language, so if you are unable to communicate in portuguese we do recommend you to contract a taxi with fixed price. This is easy! Even before you step out from the airport’s international area you will find a number of ladies calling for you and offering taxi service. Take an advantage of this and book a taxi with fixed price to your destination. The price depends on the neighborhood you are going to.

Copacabana adn Sugar Loaf Mountain

Copacabana and Sugar Loaf Mountain

Now that you are in the city you will start circulating the in neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro. The most well know ones are without any doubt Copacabana and Ipanema. They both give a name not just for the beach, but for the surrounding neighborhood as well. This is also where most of the hotels are concentrated. If you are looking for a beach front hotel with seaview, but are not ready to pay astronomic prices your choice will most probably be located at Copacabana. At this world famous beach you will find a large number of hotels in all categories. Many of them are located right on the beach boulevard Avenida Atlantica, but less pricy hotels can be found few blocks from the seaside. Ipanema on the other hand is one of the fanciest neighborhoods of the city and the beach front has mostly residential buildings. Some highly priced hotels enjoy direct sea view, but also here you will find some larger number of options few blocks away from the beach boulevard.

Centro

Centro

Other interesting neighborhoods, when it comes to tourism are Leblon, an another fancy and most residential neightborhood located right next to Ipanema. Flamengo is a residential neighborhood for local middle class with large number of good quality budget hotels and easy access (10min) by metro to Copacabana Santa Teresa, the bohemian up hill neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro with smaller boutique hotels and an excellent alternative choice thanks to its’ relaxed small town kind of atmospheare. The center of Rio de Janeiro is called “Centro” and it’s basically home for many offices and financial operations of the town. The hotel’s located in the center will not bring any special interest for an ordinary tourist, unless you are travelling on business. It’s recommendable to vist Centro and it’s attractions from Monday till Friday during the day time, when the numerous restaurants and shops are open and you will find many Cariocas in the streets of Centro. At night time and during the weekends Centro remains empty and can turn out to be unsafe for a traveller.

Rio’s location at the Tropic of Capricorn on souther hemispheare means that the winter months June, July and August, temperatures are lower (20-25 degrees) and on the summer time an average temperature is over 30 degrees, occassionaly reaching 40 celcius. Rainfall is highest during the summer time, but usually it means thunderstorms at the end of the day. What would be a good time to stay at Rio then? Some people stop only for two days, other stay two weeks. We would recommend something in between. You will certainly always find something to do in Rio de Janeiro, but nearby in the state there are other interesting places worth of visit like Angra dos Reis, Ilha Grande, Búzios and Arraial do Cabo. All these are beach destinations, ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving with clearer waters than the capital itself. In the inland, you will find the mountainous areas with options for hiking, mountain biking, river rafting and horseback riding. We do recommend you to take a short escape out of the urban life of Rio and visit at least one of these beautiful areas located nearby. To get an idea take a look at our blog post about Ilha Grande.

One of the many favelas

One of the many favelas

Then the never ending question of safety. Is it really safe to walk in the streets of Rio de Janeiro? On my opinion it’s as safe as walking in any other large city. It’s good to remember that Rio de Janeiro has more than 6 million inhabitants and you should not be wandering around at any part of the city on your own. The favelas (=slums), mostly located up on the hills are not to be visited by yourself. If you want to see this part of Rio de Janeiro, take a tour. It’s an interesting way to find out how big part of the population lives and in addition to sightseeing the tour guide provides you lot of information concerning the social system of Brazil. Highly recommended! Also leave all you jewellery, extra money and other valuable articles at hotel any time going out. There is absolutely no need to carry them with you. At the night time take a taxi, like we mentioned earlier they are everywhere and they are cheap. If at any moment you end up in a dangerous situation, stay calm, hand over all your belongings and contact the Rio’s tourist police afterwards. As a general mnemonic a street with few people should be avoided.

Last but not least, now it’s time to enjoy Rio de Janeiro! Shortly we are going to publish an another blog post discussing about the attractions that Rio de Janeiro has to offer. In the meanwhile, have a walk on the beach and enjoy a glass of chilly caipiriha!

Check out our other blog posts related to Rio de Janeiro:

Our suggested itineraries including Rio de Janeiro

Sunset at Ipanema

Sunset at Ipanema

Brazil Diversity recommends:

Accommodation:

  • Rio Guesthouse A small and stylish penthouse pousada right in the heart of Copacana.
  • Mama Ruisa – A mansion style pousada located up hill in the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa.
  • La SuiteYour hideaway design guesthouse in Rio. Choose this option if you want to enjoy the spectacular views without leaving your pousada and don’t mind taking a taxi when willing to discover the attractions of the town.
  • Astoria Palace – A reasonably priced new hotel right in front of the sea at Copacabana.
  • Sofitel Copacabana – Beach front hotel, located just a short step from Ipanema allowing you to enjoy easily the attractions of both world famous beaches.
  • Travelling with tight budget and looking for a hostel? Try out Bamboo Rio Hostel or Vila Carioca Hostel, both offering private rooms and dormotories.

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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