It´s not hard to be impressed by the infinite stretches of fine sand and turquoise water along the Rio Grande do Norte coast of Brazil. Along with the famous beaches, the air is declared the purest in the Americas (according to NASA). The combination of fresh air and beach life definitely worked for me, when a friend and I visited the capital of the state, Natal. We rented an apartment two blocks from the Ponta Negra beach, ready to soak up some sun and salt water over the Carnival weekend. After various flight delays and issues on the way from Buenos Aires, we arrived on a Saturday afternoon and headed immediately down to the water. Reggae beats were wafting through the air, along with street vendors selling paintings and scarves, and food carts slinging coconuts and crepes. We walked along the boardwalk as the sun set, and then made a beeline for a bar with a live guitarist, for our first Caipirinha of the trip. A Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil, a combination of Cachaça, lime, and sugar. They are delicious and deadly.
After a couple of rounds we headed to La Cachette for the prawn platter for two – a mountain of prawns cooked in coconut milk, ginger, and lime, with fresh veggies and salad. We hit the sack for an early start, an excursion to the fishing village of Galinhos the next day.
Galinhos is a village, population 2000 people, on a peninsula about 170 km from Natal. The village is only accessible by boat, and as such after our bus ride we boarded a rickety tugboat to chug across the water.
On the other side, we started with a buggy ride through the wind farms, arms winding slowly over the white sand dunes, stretching as far as the eye can see.
After a few passes over the dunes, we headed to the village for lunch and some relaxation on the beach. In Galinhos, the only taxis come in the form of horse-drawn carts. Our group took a taxi ride to the lighthouse at the far end of the beach, offering amazing views of the coast and approaching rain clouds.
Another round of Caipi’s, sun, and saltwater, and we were all set for a sleepy ride back to Natal.
The next morning, we explored a little closer to our backyard. Ponta Negra beach was just two blocks from our hotel and a paradise in itself. We started with nourishment at Astral on the boardwalk, smoothies and acai bowls, a fruit fix for the day.
The view ain’t bad either 😉
We found a couple of chairs and an umbrella down at the beach (20 reals per day for 2 people) and parked ourselves in front of the water. The only interruptions were the adorable food and drink carts passing to and fro in front of us, sweaty but smiling locals pushing their cart du jour and shouting out the offerings to the beach dwellers.
We passed the day at the beach, wandering back up the hill to buy some local cashew nuts and coconut products before catching the sunset back at the hotel. More on buggy rides on the sand dunes to come!