The best tropical Brazilian beaches are in the northeast coast, namely around three big beach hubs: Recife, Fortaleza and Salvador da Bahia. You will not find anywhere else in the world the variety and the excellence of so many beaches as in that coast. South America's greatest resorts and beaches are here.
Fortaleza (Fortress, in English), at the extreme northeast of Brazil, capital of the Brazilian state of Ceara, is not a nice and attractive city, either monumentally or in its landscape. But it has excellent beaches and is a great gateway to some of the earth's most amazing and untouched beach places.
Meireles and Iparema are Fortaleza's central beaches. They are very good beaches, but Praia do Futuro, a more peripheral beach is wider and less crowded. Any of those beaches offers good restaurants, animation, music and nightlife (Praia do Futuro is the city's nightlife center at Thursdays; the others are permanently animated).Two fine places to stay in Fortaleza are Porto das Dunas, at Praia do Futuro, a sophisticated resort, just outside the urban perimeter, and Aquiraz, 17 miles from Porto das Dunas, a place with good beaches and excellent hotel resorts. For those who privilege privacy and safety, these are two good options in Fortaleza's outskirts.
Fortaleza, or Porto das Dunas, Aquiraz and other resorts nearby, may be excellent for some relaxing beach days and for shopping and entertainment at night, but there are other options.
For many visitors, Fortaleza is mostly an opportunity for visiting some amazing untouched beach places, largely cut off from the outside world. In fact, some miles, or dozen miles from Fortaleza, you can encounter tiny fishing villages with stunning beaches, some of them without electricity or running water, lost in the past. Palm trees, dunes, sandy beaches are their welcome postcard. Very high dunes are common, and local people, namely the kids, like to ski down these dunes on planks of wood. Jangadas are also very common, at the sea: they are flat rafts with sails, used by fishermen and, more recently, rented to tourists for local trips.
If you are interested in this type of beaches - Jericoacoara, Canoa Quebrada, Morro Branco, Lagoinha, Iguape, Prainha - look for local tours, through your hotel or a Fortaleza tour agency. The organized tours are normally preferable to regular buses. The distances and the time involved are considerable, and if you opt for local buses you will risk staying overnight at an unexpected place.
Jericoacoara, an Environmental Preserved Area at a seven hour drive away from Fortaleza, is the most popular eco-beach of Ceara. But it takes very long to reach it and you can visit almost similar places at a much shorter distance: Cumbuco and Iparana, less than an hour drive from Fortaleza, are peaceful villages, with calm seas and impressive dunes, not very different from Jericoacoara; Prainha, Iguape, Morro Branco, are also beautiful and very preserved isolated places.Lagoinha, at 100 Km away from Fortaleza, has an amazing lagoon near the sand dunes and is one of the best beaches of the state, well away from the crowds. Another very interesting location is Canoa Quebrada, a major eco-destination, or Majorlandia, very near Aracati, or Canoa Quebrada, another major eco-destination (for specific information about Canoa Quebrada, see the site Canoa Quebrada).
Beach Park (with facilities and features like surfboards, buggies or an Aqua Park), Paracuru, 100 km away from Fortaleza, emulating Rio de Janeiro's Buzios, are also top attractions.
Other major references in region are Joao Pessoa and Porto Galinhas, two excellent places for beach and sea sports.
Though outside Recife's state-region (Pernambuco), there are other major references in north-eastern Brazilian coast that aren't very far from it.
One of them is Maceio. Maceio is a small town but a fast growing tourism destination. Beaches like Pajucara, a huge gigantic natural swimming pool, with its waters trapped between the very coast and the sand bars, are great. Maceio is also internationally known for its spa hotels.
The Brazilian Islands of Ferrnando de Noronha are not exactly beach destinations nor resorts. Fernando Noronha islands (21) are an Unesco World Heritage place, 550 kilometres away from Recife (an hour and a half by plane), home to an incredible marine life, that is preserved under ecological law. At Fernando de Noronha you will find the larger concentration of tropical seabirds in the Western Atlantic and an unparalleled oasis of marine life: populations of resident dolphins, of turtles, rays, sharks, billfish, cetaceans, and a great variety of reef fishes. Fernando de Noronha is also a paradise for surfers and those who love sea life, sailing, aquatic activities like snorkelling, and, most of all, diving. The amazing abundance of ocean life and the visibility and temperature of the sea water make Fernando Noronha a top world destination.
Lodging in Fernando de Noronha
As there are limits on the number of visits to the island, it is important to reserve accommodation well in advance (5 months or more is highly recommended and the best way to get a small hotel or a good local family guesthouse). Lodging is scarce and modest, with hotel construction highly restricted by environmental law.
Best Time of Year
Fernando Noronha is an all year-round destination. High season runs from December through February, when Brazilians, while on holidays, most demand the place. As such, the others months could be a better option for lodging availability.