Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
If there is one marvel to discover in this region of Brazil, it is the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. Located in the north-east corner of the state of Maranhão, the name of this extraordinary desert refers to its endless expanses of white sand dunes that evoke ‘lençóis', the Portuguese word for ‘bed sheets'. This nature reserve is a unique place in the world, spread out over more than 1,500 km2 or an area equivalent to that of São Paulo and including 100 kilometres of coastline.
If the idea of an excursion to the desert may seem a little ‘dry' at the outset, you will change your mind when you discover that the myriad oases nestled among the dunes are no mirage. Indeed, during the rainy season, the sandy mountains collect the fresh water of tropical showers, thus forming translucent lagoons. Stunning sites and great places to swim or relax while contemplating the grandiose landscape.
Jericoacoara: Kitesurfers' mecca
Just 300 kilometres from Fortaleza, capital of the state of Ceará, the seaside resort of Jericoacoara was a quiet fishing village until the 1980s. The almost inaccessible nature of its dirt roads still preserves this Eden where some followers of the tranquilo lifestyle meet up every year. Surrounded by lush hills, the sandy streets of the village unfurl on the immense beach where kitesurfers enjoy waves and winds.
On the silver sand, capoeira dancers perform impressive choreographies as the sun begins to set. It is at this moment that one will have to have an iced coconut drink or a caipirinha bought on the beach and then climb the monumental dune of Pôr do Sol to witness the fleeting appearance of the mythical green flash at the moment when the sun ignites the azure horizon.
Fernando de Noronha: Paradise on the sea
If you want to discover the place that has been crowned ‘the most beautiful beach in the world' for the third time in a row, take off to the island of Fernando de Noronha. This legendary destination, which takes its name from a noble Portuguese adventurer, is the paraíso for nature lovers with its exceptional crystal clear waters home to diverse and plentiful marine life.
Atoll das Rocas welcomes thousands of turtles each year who come to lay their eggs. They then return to the depths of the ocean to languidly surf about iridescent coral reefs. At dawn, the bay of Golfinhos becomes the scene of an enchanting ballet of dolphins returning from their morning hunt. The most beautiful beach on earth unfolds its splendours a few meters away. The impressive staircase is dug into the volcanic rock of a vertiginous cliff that rises above Baía do Sancho. This is a magical place that will make you believe that paradise really does exist.
Canoa Quebrada: Sun and Samba
Located at the foot of a 15-metre high red sand cliff, the beach of Canoa Quebrada became the rendezvous of many European hippies in the 1970s, who then got married and lived happily ever after. You may even find out when chatting with the locals that many of them are of French descent.
Basking in a microclimate that gently oscillates between 27°C and 32°C all year round, the beach of Canoa Quebrada is an idyllic place to relax on a stopover between two stages of your trip through Nordeste. With sand dunes and natural pools, colourful peaks and temperate waters, the shore of this quiet village is one of the most beautiful in the country. In the evening, after having thanked the goddess of the sea, Iemanjá, for this divine dip in the water, you can go to ‘Broadway', the main avenue in town, to savour a feijoada of cuttlefish and to dance the samba until dawn.
Galés and Maragogi: A diver's Eldorado
Halfway between Macéio and Recife lies the village of Maragogi. You'll have a strong urge to stop here and stretch out on one of its long beaches lined with coconut trees. You need to move onwards to discover the true treasure of this seaside resort just six kilometres from the coast. In the early morning, ask the reception of your pousada to reserve a spot for the next boat towards the marine reserve of Galés. The departure will be at low tide and you'll reach the diver's Eldorado just thirty minutes later.
Called ‘the Brazilian Caribbean', this place wears its name well. Coral reefs break the surface of the turquoise waters and the sandbanks are home to natural pools. But the most striking spectacle unfolds below the surface, where paradise fish, crustaceans and other shellfish engage in an unforgettable aquatic ballet.