Beaches: South America
Alter do Chão, in Northern Brazil, Has White Sand Beaches Along River Tapajós
by Antonella Kann (Contributor for The Beach News, from Pará, Brazil)
Only 37km (23 miles) separates Santarém airport, in the state of Pará, from a fishing village that can surprise those who have traveled around Brazil and the world.
Although Alter do Chão is little known in Brazil it has recently been chosen by British newspaper "The Guardian" as Brazil's most beautiful beach, the country's answer to the Caribbean. The setting is framed by white sand beaches along the bank of River Tapajós - which is in turn so large that it looks like a sea of pristine, warm and calm waters.
The lifestyle in the village is simple and there are no pressures of transforming Alter into a popular destination. Nevertheless, the village has become very eclectic since the arrival of foreigners - especially Europeans - began. Many decided to stick around and small businesses began springing up around the village.
This influx of people also contributed to the opening of charming inns. Slowly, all of these businesses added a pinch of allure to the already picturesque scenery of Alter, and, of course, had an impact on the development of quality tourism infrastructure.
At dusk a miniature tower of Babel gathers around the village square where Spanish, English, French and Italian can be heard mixed up with the sounds of carimbó, a local musical genre popular across the entire state of Pará.
Cabo Frio, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
Distance from Rio de Janeiro: 148 km (92 mi); São Paulo: 594 km (369 mi); Búzios: 24 km (14 mi)
Cabo Frio is the biggest and most developed town in the Região dos Lagos (Lakes Region) of Rio. Do not confuse the city of Cabo Frio with nearby city Arraial do Cabo (14 km distant), nor with the Ilha de Cabo Frio (Island of Cabo Frio, reachable through the Arraial).
Cabo Frio means "Cold Cape"; this name comes from the low temperature of the sea water. This happens because there is a submarine stream coming from South Pole which emerges near the coast of Cabo Frio. There is a constant wind blowing from northeast, which has sculpted fine white sand into dunes. The combination of salty water and wind has made Cabo Frio to be the major producer of salt in the past (this activity declined much recently). Before going to any beaches, try this tip from the locals: check out Gamboa Street first. Also known as “The Bikini Street”, Gamboa has over two hundred stores and shops that sell beach wear at obscenely low prices. Anything you could want or need is there. Swim trunks, bikinis, sandals, suntan lotion, towels, beach blankets, coolers, you name it. Making a stop at Gamboa Street is a wise decision you will not regret!
Once you have stocked up on beach supplies, it’s time to hit the beaches. The first beach (and the most famous) is Praia do Forte beach. This is where the Fort of São Mateus was built way back in 1620 to repel invasions from French, Dutch, and English settlers. Today, the Fort offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Cabo Frio. In addition, local bands and samba acts are performed along the beach. While the crowded summer months make finding a place to sunbathe difficult, the beach is perfect for sailors, surfers and body boarders. If you walk along Forte beach long enough you will reach the sand dunes. Here, a word of caution is necessary. Walking too far along the dunes alone, as a tourist, creates a risk of robbery. If you simply must continue walking down the dunes, at least take a local, Portuguese-speaking person with you to help prevent this. Instead, walk past the dunes and you will wind up at Praia do Foguete, or “The Rocket Beach.” Here you will see lots of summer houses belonging to wealthy travelers from all over the world. However, the real beauty of Foguete beach is the powerful breakers in the water. This creates ideal conditions for fishing and surfing, and those are the two types of people most likely to be seen there.
The next beach along the same path is Brava, or “Wild Beach.” This, too, is popular with surfers for it strong tides and wave currents.
From Brava, continue along to Praia do Peró. Praia do Peró has sand dunes as well, but unlike Forte, these dunes are very safe and well-secured. This beach also has dozens and dozens of food and drink selling kiosks to provide refreshments on those hot summer days.
In conclusion, Cabo Frio beaches are wonderful! Enjoy them!