The city of Natal in Brazil’s Northeast gets almost 300 days of sunshine and that’s why it’s known as the “City of the Sun.” Sunshine isn’t all the city has to offer, not by a long shot. The visitor can also count on its many beaches, sand dunes, parks and even the largest micareta (off-season Carnival) called Carnatal.
In terms of quality of life, Natal often ranks as the best place to live anywhere in the North or Northeast. Being the second smallest capital in Brazil, and with over 800,000 residents, this city is densely populated. Add to the mix two million visitors per year, among foreigners and Brazilians, and the city almost seems tailor-made for those who are looking for a quick escape.
Whether going north or south along Rio Grande do Norte’s coastline, there’s 250 miles of beaches to explore and one of them is both well-known nationally and internationally. Praia da Pipa is located 50 miles from Natal and was originally a fisherman’s village. Much like the story behind other famous beach towns such as Jericoacoara, Trancoso, Porto de Galinhas and Buzios, Pipa started as a small, quiet place with beautiful views. Next came the surfers and the backpackers, then your average tourist, investment, and finally, nightclubs and hotels. That being said, most of what made it beautiful to begin with can still be found today.
Genipabu is an environmentally-protected ecological park located just 12 miles from Natal. It’s known for it’s freshwater lagoons, buggy rides through its many dunes (where you can choose the kind of ride you want, “with emotion” or “without emotion”), camel rides through the sand and, perhaps on par with the “emotional” buggy ride, the “eskibunda” (pictured above) where you sit on a wooden board and ski down the slope into the lagoon.
While in and around Natal, don’t miss Ponta Negra beach and the Morro de Careca, the Reis Magos Fortress within the city, the world’s largest cashew tree in nearby Parnamirim, nor the snorkeling among the reefs of Maracajaú (40 miles outside the city). In a place where it’s almost always summertime, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to fun in the sun.
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