The beaches of Northern Brazil between Sao Luiz and Fortaleza are rarely visted, but nonetheless extremely beautiful, with many small fishing villages retaining a traditional Brazilian lifestyle. The area remains quite untouched by tourism and is characterised by huge long beaches backed by equally enormous sand dunes.
On this page you'll find details on many of these beaches, mentioned as one travels East from Sao Luiz to Fortaleza. I've also written more in depth travel guides to both Jericoacoara and Flexeiras & Mundau which are in this region.
Lencois National Park:
Sao Luiz is a major city in North Brazil - there's an international airport with flights to various destinations in Brazil, including the relatively nearby Manaus in the Amazon. Sao Luiz has some interesting colonial architecture, however most tourists would only spend a night ot two here before travelling onwards.
The beautiful Lencois National Park, east of Sao Luiz, has 150,000 hectares of beaches and shifting sand dunes scattered with freshwater lagoons. The beautiful landscape is like no other and the beaches almost entirely completely deserted - great if you don't want to see others on your vacation to Brazil. It takes a few days to visit the Lencois area, but visitors are richly rewarded with immense beauty and small hamlets rarely visited in northern Brazil. Shifting sand dunes stretch for about 150 km between Tutoia and Primeira Cruz, just west of Barreirinhas. The rainy season of June to September is the best time to visit as the sand dunes fill with water and the reflections are quite beautiful. There's much birdlife and other wildlife, including giant turtles.
Lencois National Park is visited by overland travel from Sao Luiz to Barreirinhas (8 hours in bus), where there are numerous small hotels and pousadas. From Barreirinhas, it's easy to arrange boat tours and other excursions into the sand dunes.
A handful of tour operators offer long packages to the area which usually involve travelling large distances by dune / beach buggy and staying in basic accommodations - there's no doubt that this is the best way to explore if you can afford the costs.
Parnaiba, Tutoia and Ilha do Caju:
Further east lies the Delta do Parnaiba which has 70 small islands covered in forest, palms and dunes. The area around Tutoia is particularly rich in birdlife - good for birdwatching in Brazil. The nearby island of Ilha do Caju is an island of lakes, forests and marshes that also has some fine beaches.
Travel further East (see map) to find Jericoacoara, a fishing community nestled amongst the sand dunes. Jericoacoara is a tranquil and charming town that is popular for beach vacations in Brazil. The beaches of Jericoacoara are empty and beautiful. Buggy tourism is popular in this small Brazilian beach resort but is environmentally destructive. Jericoara is six hours travel by bus from Fortaleza. Some of the best beaches around Jericoacoara are to the west, including the area of Nova Tatajuba.
For extensive advice if you are planning a visit, see our Jericoacoara trip report.
Beaches west of Fortaleza:
Fortaleza has an international airport, cheap charter flights and is a popular gateway for vacations to northern Brazil's beaches. The best beaches are found outside of Fortaleza itself - the coast to the north west has many wide beaches backed by sand dunes and coconut palms - these are the Brazilian beaches you've been dreaming about. Access to many of the beaches and small fishing villages can be difficult, and as such many retain a traditional Brazilian feel to them. 60 km northwest of Fortaleza lies the village of Pecem, which has a wide beach and good surfing. Travel 20km to find Taiba and it's a 15km palm fringed beach and the nearby colonial village of Siupe. Both Pecem and Taiba have a few small hotels.
105km west of Fortlaeza lies Paracura, a fishing port that also has one of Northern Brazil's most important carnivals. The are some lovely deserted beaches near Paracura, in addition to a few hotels in the centre of town. Travel west of Paracura to find Lagoinha which also has lovely beaches. Hotels in the area of Paracura and Lagoinha include Monalisa, O Milton and Ondas do Mar.
Further northwest, and 135 km from Fortaleza, and one finds great beaches that have only recently been touched by tourism - the areas of Flexeiras, Imboaca and Mundau have lovely beaches and sand dunes. For more advice on this part of Brazil, see our Flexeiras & Mundau trip report.
There's plenty more remote beaches and resorts on Brazil's coastline between Fortaleza and Natal ....