Paradise Vacation in Brazil
There comes a time in a person’s life, be they young or old, where the desire to simply get away from absolutely everything becomes simply too hard to resist.
All You Need to Know to Vacation in Jericoacoara, Brazil
Described as one of Brazil’s most cinematic locations, Jericoacoara is a place that will enchant you. Years ago, it was the favoured destination for hippies, life’s wanderers and those of a decidedly spiritual nature. A well-kept secret for those many years, word started to spread come the late 1980s and Jericoacoara suddenly became known as somewhat of a tourist hotspot. Fortunately, to preserve the idyllic little fishing village’s identity, in 1984, the location was made an Environmental Protection Area, and, in 2002, the status of National Park was awarded, putting in place a number of well-considered restrictions, such as building controls, unauthorised vehicle ban and no street-lighting at night (the moonlight guides your way). And all those dreamers of the past mentioned earlier just keep returning.
The village itself is something to behold. The simple, sandy streets that comprise Jericoacoara’s centre are aligned parallel to one another, heading toward the beach. In the north, you’ll find the main streets of Rua do Forró (if you travel here by bus, this is your stop) and Rua da Igreja (known also as Rua da Matriz); in the south, toward the dunes, you have Rua São Francisco and Rua das Dunas. The heart of the village lies between a beautifully broad beach, grass-covered hills and the wonderful Pôr do Sol or “Sunset Dune”, a huge, mini-mountain of pure sand where you can sit and admire one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see. Every evening, tourists and locals alike gather here to witness the rare, natural phenomenon (known as Green Flash) of an “Emerald Sunset” - this is when the very tip of the setting sun actually turns emerald green in colour as it dips below the distant horizon. Breathtaking (or any other adjective, for that matter) cannot simply do it enough justice. It has to be seen to be truly believed.
How Do I Actually Get to Jericoacoara?
Jericoacoara. A bit tricky to spell. Harder to pronounce, that’s for sure. Lastly, not exactly easy to find or to get to. It’s situated around 300 kilometres to the north-west of Fortaleza, in the state of Ceara and the only modes of transport able to get there are either a boat, a helicopter or a 4WD (the normal choice). Jericoacoara is a 6-hour drive from Fortaleza’s Pinto Martins Airport - remember to hold onto your hat for last hour when you’ll be travelling up and down and over steep sand dunes, which form the mesmeric landscape that makes the place so enchanting.
However, that may all change with the official opening of Jericoacoara Airport, built to serve the municipalities of Jijoca de Jericoacoara, which is a resort town, and Cruz in Ceará - exactly how this will affect the humble fishing village, its astonishing setting and the greater general area will wait to be seen. All those involved are hoping that commercial flights into the airport, though clearly inevitable, are not to the detriment of Jericoacoara’s natural beauty, ambience and unique paradise location. It’s interesting to note that, less than 30 years ago, the village had no electricity. At any moment, it may well be served by an airport too.
The Endless Activities on Offer
Whatever kind of vacation recreation you prefer, Jericoacoara has most, if not all, of it. From dune buggy tours to kitesurfing to sandboarding, taking in the wonderful natural beauty of your location - the sunsets, the dunes, the lagoons and the beaches, to name but a few. For the active, “let’s do that now!” traveller, there is seriously more than enough to do:
Surfing: The number one activity for both tourists and the locals. The bay in front of Jericoacoara village is a great area for gentler and smaller waves, perfect for beginners and long boarders. Nearby, you’ll also find Malhada beach, providing much more challenging waves for the advanced short boarders. Best time of year? That’d be December through to April, with higher waves and little wind.
Dune Buggy Tours: A whole host of dune buggy tours to take in Jericoacoara’s amazing setting are available, including routes to Blue and Paradise Lagoons, Barrinha, Mangue Seco and Tatajiuba Lagoon. Tour prices start around 180BRL (or US$56). Note: BRL = Brazilian Real.
Windsurfing: Undoubtedly, one of the best world locations for windsurfing, and arguably the very best in Brazil, Jericoacoara offers truly excellent facilities. For example, beginners to the advanced will find equipment rental and windsurfing lessons are widely available.
Kitesurfing: Jericoacoara is also becoming well-known, unsurprisingly, as the latest, great location for kitesurfing. Equipment and lessons are, again, widely available. The place to experience this newer sport is near “Sunset Dune,” with its calmer, flatter water.
Sandboarding: For those who prefer their surfing on terra firma, the sand version of snowboarding is also available. No need for winter sports clothing here - shorts and bare feet are the sandboarder’s attire. The best place to practice your moves is Sunset Dune, with boards available for hire in the main street from 15BRL per hour.
SUP (Stand Up & Paddle): Exactly what it says. A fine way to get out on the water, away from the beach, to view the beautiful sunset on the horizon.
Kayaking: Just a mere 20 minutes from the village of Jericoacoara, you can be kayaking like an intrepid explorer of old through a mangrove-covered landscape, and seeing Mangue Seco and its marvellous beach from a whole new perspective.
Horseback Riding: Just like all the equipment for the above water-based activities, you can actually rent a horse too. Calm, experienced horses are available to those who wish to venture out on their own or with a friendly guide in tow. Take a leisurely ride out to Pedra Furada (or the “Arched Rock” - a popular little destination for tourists, featuring a natural, geological arch created over thousands of years), the dry mangroves, the nearby hills or simply along one of the many glorious beaches. Hiring starts at only around 25BRL (US$8) per hour.
Capoeira: If a traditional martial art is what you’re looking for, you’ve found it. Through the combination of dance, acrobatics and musical accompaniment, the art of Capoeira has been practised for centuries in this area of Brazil. Power, speed and leverage produce an array of spins, kicks and other techniques. Lessons are available from the local mestres or masters, again at around 25BRL for an hour.
Jericoacoara Beaches & Lagoons
If all that sounds a little too energetic for you, there is the perfect alternative.
Simply lie back in a hammock and relax... the magnificent sunset will be with you shortly.
Did we mention the miles and miles and miles of virgin beaches that await you in Jericoacoara, its national park and the surrounding area? We did? That’s good. Now, let’s really get you yearning for the sand between your toes, that ice-cool drink after a heavenly swim in the clear, blue waters and that moment come the evening when you sit and watch one of the most beautiful sunsets on the planet.
Jericoacoara Beach: Comprising around one third of the national park itself, Jericoacoara Beach is all the above and more. Once selected by the Washington Post as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, it consists of enchanting blue lagoons, massive sand dunes and calm waters. Finally, let’s not forget that the beach, and Sunset Dune in particular, is one of the few spots in Brazil where you can watch the sun literally slide gradually into the ocean.
Blue Lagoon & Paradise Lagoon: Situated closely together, these lagoons offer exactly what their names suggest - a blue paradise. Crystal-clear waters invite you to enter. There are even hammocks in the water for those who just wish to lounge, and soak up the sun and the magical ambience of the place. Diving is a popular activity in both lagoons, the glass-like water offering stunning views of life below the surface. There are bars and restaurants on hand to cater for those in need of a refreshing drink or a bite to eat too.
Mangue Seco Beach: Translated as “dry mangrove,” this beach is surrounded by dead mangrove trees and mountains of sand, providing a quite surreal landscape to an undoubtedly beautiful location.
Malhada Beach: A great venue for those looking to surf the higher, longer waves, Malhada Beach offers another landscape, with its rocky terrain. Be sure to come prepared as there is little shade.
Prea Beach: If you’re looking for the best kitesurfing, look no further. Choppier waves and a heady wind provide the perfect conditions for this increasingly popular water sport, aided by a number of kite schools close by. Nearby restaurants offer true culinary delights from the sea, such as stingray and crab.
Tatajuba: Featuring its very own beautiful lagoon, a few miles west of Jericoacoara is the lesser-known fishing village of Tatajuba, now becoming a popular place for wind, sand and kitesurfers, as well as short boarders. Equipment rental is readily at hand, as are local schools to teach beginners through to the more advanced.
The Nightlife in Jericoacoara
The night’s festivities usually start around midnight (yes, midnight), so, after a delicious local dinner in one of the Jericoacoara's restaurants, it might be advisable to take a short nap, and thereby giving you the necessary energy to dance the early hours away. The focus of it all is Main Street - grab yourself a famous caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail) from one of the many street-side drink stands, then simply wander from bar to bar, catch some local live music or dance the Forró at an open-air club. Even at midnight, the night is young...
The Village’s Restaurants
Jericoacoara is home, albeit a small one, to an array of restaurants and cafés, serving up a variety of local, national and international cuisine to suit both your taste and your budget. From the popular Restaurante Tamarindo, with its range of local seafood dishes and South American classics, to the more economical Cantinho da Tapioca Jeri, providing various brunches for those somewhat weary from the night before, there literally is something for everyone. Here’s a look at just a few of them to whet your appetite:
Restaurante Tamarindo: The Tamarindo Restaurant is a great choice for those who simply love “choice.” Its menu features local seafood and cuisine from further afield in Brazil, as well as South America, with the addition of Italian, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Featuring a bar with live music, the restaurant takes both MasterCard and Visa, with meals around 25BRL (US$8).
Il Faro Blanco: Highly regarded by those who dine here, the White Lighthouse Restaurant is renowned for its wonderful seafood and international cuisine, including Chinese and Brazilian dishes. In addition, it has an acclimatised wine cellar, offering a wide range of labels to accompany your meal.
The Chili Beach Restaurant: Located within The Chili Beach Boutique Hotel with its ocean view, this restaurant offers extensive international cuisine prepared by European-trained chefs. The menu primarily features a fusion of Mediterranean cuisine with local Brazilian ingredients.
Cantinho da Tapioca Jeri: As mentioned above, the Cantinho da Tapioca Jeri offers local cuisine at a very affordable price. Popular with backpackers and families alike, the eatery is very child-friendly and also has, for those who simply can’t quite get away from it all.... free WiFi.
Where to Stay? Jericoacoara Guest Houses, Rentals & Hotels
There was a time, way back when Jericoacoara was still the little-known paradise of old (the hippy’s haven, if you like) when those visiting simply slept on the beach or kipped down in one of the local village fisherman’s homes. Times have certainly changed in that regard. No-one sleeps on the beach anymore, and Jericoacoara is now full of options for those who make the trek here. From quaint, local guest houses (known as “pousadas”) to luxury rentals and highly-rated hotels, there is something to suit all purse strings. The more luxurious surroundings, such as hotels, have all the mod cons (if you need them): WiFi, cable TV/DVD, a digital safe for personal effects, phone and fax and (the all-important) air-conditioning. The simpler places to stay offer more basic services, such as a fan instead of air-con and local TV, to name but a couple.
Obviously, we can’t list all the possible options available to you (there’s booking.co, airbnb and tripadvisor for that), but here are a few examples to give you an idea of what is on offer and what you may expect to pay:
Pousada Vento de Jeri: A popular tourist choice, the Vento de Jeri is just a short walk from the beaches and village centre in a quiet neighbourhood, perfect if you’re looking more to relax during your stay. Amenities include a bar/lounge area, aircon, WiFi, safe and minibar in your room, balconies, breakfast, as well as a shuttle bus and laundry service. Prices currently start around US$70 per night for a double room.
Pousada Jeriba: A 4-star guest house, the Pousada Jeriba is located in a great position within the village, with many of its rooms having an ocean view. Featuring its own pool and restaurant, the pousada also has a spa and hot tub, and the rooms all have Wifi, aircon and minibar. It’s best to check prices when you have your dates in mind as the Jeriba gets booked up quite quickly.
Casa de Areia: Moving up in price (unsurprisingly), one of the luxury-rated hotels available is the Casa de Areia, with ocean views (it fronts the beach) and personalised service (the hotel only has 6 rooms). Featuring both a pool and a restaurant, the hotel amenities also include what you’d expect (WiFi, aircon, minibar, breakfast, etc.). However, the beachfront location (you can only enter the hotel via the beach) makes it an ideal location for many who choose to stay here. Prices start at around US$260 per night for a suite with that essential ocean view for watching the setting sun from the comfort of your balcony.
Vila Lagosta No Abacaxi: You’re on our website, so you know this hopefully. Well, we had to include ourselves for you to compare. The Vila, located just 15 kilometres away from Jericoacoara in nearby Prea, is a luxury beachfront bungalow available to rent to up to 12 guests, fully-staffed and set in 25 acres of Brazilian paradise. As mentioned previously, Prea Beach is one of the best locations for kitesurfing, and our bungalow is the perfect place to stay to enjoy the best of this rapidly growing sport.
Top Tips (That You Won’t Find in Your Average Jeri Travel Guide)
Jericoacoara is situated very close to the equator and, therefore, can get very, very hot (35°C+). It really is best for you to be as prepared as possible - in other words, plenty of sun-cream (repeatedly during the day, especially after swimming), lots of fluids and maybe pack a parasol too.
Get out your Portuguese phrasebooks. Many locals only speak their mother tongue, so, if you wish to communicate fully, these are indispensable.
Bring your Brazilian Reals. Many businesses are cash-only and access to ATMs is very limited in the surrounding locale.
Your Brazilian Vacation Awaits!
Hopefully, this article will prove as indispensable to you as a Portuguese phrasebook when planning your first visit to the paradise that is Jericoacoara, home to one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see during your lifetime. From its vast, unspoilt beaches, its sumptuous crystal-clear lagoons just inviting you to step in, the myriad of available activities (both in and out of the water), numerous tours to take in the amazing and varied landscape, excellent cuisine, to simply walking the sandy village streets, there truly is something for everyone. What would be your reason for coming to a paradise location such as this? To just get away from the modern world? The sunsets? The waves?
Whatever the reason, you are assured the very warmest of welcomes (literally) upon your arrival. Bem vinda!