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Jericoacoara is a little slice of paradise on the North coast of Brazil, where the streets are paved with sand and there are jaw-dropping beaches as far as the eye can see.
Until 1984 it was just a small fishing village with no electricity, no phones, no TV and no road in or out. Almost as soon as progress started, it was slowed by being declared an Environmental Protection Area, meaning there were building restrictions and tourism limits to try and preserve the natural balance. Nowadays electricity is at least present, although there is still no paved road into the town.
But what keeps Jericoacoara (or ‘Jeri’; even Brazilians struggle to pronounce the name sometimes) special is its remoteness. The nearest city (and also the nearest airport) is Fortaleza, around 300 kilometres away. From Fortaleza you can get a bus to nearby Jijoca, which is the nearest place with paved roads. Then you transfer onto a 4-wheeled vehicle for the final 45 minutes into Jeri. The entire journey takes around 5-6 hours.
There is talk of a new airport opening near Cruz, just 30 kms away. Whilst this will undoubtably make the journey more convenient, it will also change the town considerably, with more tourists requiring more infrastructure. The time to visit Jeri is now, whilst it still remains relatively unspoiled.
Most activities revolve around the beach, unsurprisingly since Jeri is really just a few sandy paths all leading to the sea. The beach is spectacular; there is kilometre after kilometre of soft powdery sand and clean, shallow water.
Paddle boarding, wind surfing and kite surfing are popular activities if you are looking for something more active to do. It is possible to take lessons or just hire the equipment and go.
Horse rides along the beach are also popular (you can hire a horse on the beach) although these are not guided rides so you have to be able to control the horse yourself. You can also hire a bike to cycle the coast. It's a spectacular ride, especially at sunset.
Speaking of sunsets, you can watch the sun go down directly from the beach. This is a daily ritual in Jeri and every night people climb the sand dune Por-do-Sol to see the spectacular sunset. This is a rare treat in Brazil, since so few of its beaches face West.
Every night at sunset you can see Capoeira practiced on the beach. It is good fun to watch, although you can also take lessons if you want to try it yourself.
This is another good activity. Since there are no street lights in Jeri (a local law forbids it) the night sky is spectacular, and you're able to see the full Milky Way defined against a black sky.
This is the best-known view of Jeri: The picture-postcard shot, and the iconic image that is associated with the town. If tides allow, you can walk along the beach or take the upper road to get there, which is a little bit of a scramble but isn't too difficult for those with a reasonable level of fitness.
This is a popular attraction and you will probably find a bit of a crowd there whatever time of day you go. As the old adage goes; the early bird catches the worm, and those who arrive for sunrise will be rewarded with their own little piece of solitude.
If you happen to be in town between mid June and the end of July, you will have the chance to see the sunset right in the middle of the arch. This is a spectacular sight.
The most popular trip to do is to Blue Lagoon and Paradise Lagoon (pictured below), two freshwater lakes that lie adjacent to each other. You can hire a Dune buggy with a driver and head out there for a day - definitely worth the effort.
Here you can swim in a clear fresh water lake in an idyllic setting, or simply laze in one of the hammocks conveniently hanging over the water.
As recently as 2011, the two lakes (Blue and Paradise) were joined together, however the lack of rainfall in the area has now separated them. The Blue Lagoon is often quite dry these days, depending on recent rainfall, but the Paradise Lagoon is still just as beautiful as ever.
Most of the trips there will also stop at a nearby beach (usually Prea) for a delicious lunch and other local attractions such as the lazy tree. If you want the same experience but with less crowds, hire a driver and buggy yourself and you can make your own itinerary and just visit the things that interest you.
Another good day trip is to go to the neighbouring village of Tatajuba, about 25 kilometres away and reachable by dune buggy. The village had to be moved to escape the dunes, which were enveloping it. There is yet another beautiful freshwater lake here, where you can relax in a hammock dipping into the cooling water.
Considering how small Jeri is, it has a huge number of restaurants offering all kinds of different cuisine, from pizza to Thai to fine dining. In the evening many little carts line the main street by the beach selling drinks and cocktails. Each night is a different style of music, from Samba to Forró to Salsa. You can just head down to the beach, grab a drink or two and dance (or simply watch) until the early hours.
Jeri has most of the things you could need. There are supermarkets and pharmacies and lots of shops selling artisan products and many fashion boutiques. Most of the shops are open late into the evening.
In the evening a market opens up in the main street, where many bohemian and alternative types come to sell their wares. You can expect a lot of jewellery, dream catchers and incense burners.
Jeri has become a bit of a Mecca for hippies, and along with them comes the artisan jewellery, the henna tattoos, the street performances and the drums. It makes for an interesting evening if you want to just wander around the stalls and the main square, or just sit outside at one of the many bars and people-watch.
Jericoacoara is commonly visited on a three day package from Fortaleza, and although it really merits much more than a three day visit it’s one of those places where, just when you think you’ve seen it all, somebody tells you about something new.
A quiet and serene property with lush tropical gardens and clean and comfortable chalet-style rooms. Naquela Pousada is not on the beachfront, but this has the advantage of avoiding the noise of tourists that gather round that area. The local staff provide a pleasant service, although English skills can be of a lower standard than in larger chain hotels. We particularly love the outdoor pool area, which is one of the highlights of this zen-like property.
This unique beachfront pousada is made up of 24 rooms divided into apartments, bungalow and tree houses. The pousada has been built by rustic, local materials and each room is decorated with handicrafts and local artworks. There is a lovely pool deck with ocean views and sun loungers as well as an open air lounge complete with sofas, hammocks and a sandy floor.
The Chili Beach Hotel
Perhaps one of the most special properties in Northeast Brazil, this exclusive beachfront boutique is a chic oasis with an especially romantic feel.
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