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What to Do in and around Paraty? Activities on Rio's Most Beautiful Coast

July 19, 2021
Grandiose view near Paraty

The beautiful coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro not only combines dream beaches, hidden bays, and impressive Atlantic Rainforest but also allows Brazil travelers to travel back in time to the country's past.
The small city of Paraty is the center of the Costa Verde region and therefore a well-known and popular destination on a Brazil trip. The historic city center and UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only beautiful to look at but also the site of many cultural events, such as music and literary festivals. Paraty is located on a picturesque bay with many offshore islands, surrounded by the mountains of the Serra da Bocaina, and thus offers the best conditions for active and culture-based excursions. Be it hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, a kayak tour, a walk in the historic old town, or a visit to the traditional fishing communities, quilombolas, and indigenous aldeias. Depending on their interests, Brazil travelers can experience the area around Paraty individually.

Culture, History, and Traditions - Get to know the life of the locals

Tourists can get a first impression of Paraty's culture and history during a guided walk through the picturesque alleys of the old town. The historic buildings transport visitors to another time and bring Brazil's history within reach. One of the most famous destinations in the region is the "Gold Trail", a stone path built by slave hands that connected the hinterland with Paraty and made the transport of goods possible.

Paraty, however, not only bears witness to Brazil's colonial era but also offers an inclusive form of tourism, Turismo Comunitário, which involves the region's traditional communities. Visitors can stay in the guest rooms of the families, taste traditional food, and be enchanted by the handicrafts. The region is home to several Brazilian populations in a comparatively small area. These include indigenous people, caiçaras, and quilombolas.
The indigenous villages, known as aldeias, belong to the Guaraní-Mbya, Guaraní-Nhandeva, and Pataxó-Iriri tribes. In the latter, tourists can visit the Iriri waterfall, which is very good for swimming. To better understand the culture of the people, tours to the villages should be accompanied by a guide.
Quilombolas are settlements and communities formed by runaway slaves during the colonial period. In the valleys of the coastal mountains, which were covered by dense jungle, people could hide. The villages or remote small farms can be visited on a hike or even by car.
The largest group of inhabitants of the region are the caiçaras. If not in Paraty itself, they live in small fishing villages on the beach. On the slopes of the mountains, behind the houses, they grow cassava, harvest palm fruits, and other products of the rainforest. The caiçaras have indigenous, European, and African roots and are therefore a reflection of Brazilian society.
The idyllically located villages, such as Praia do Sono or Praia da Ponta Negra can be visited by boat or on foot during a hike. Other communities, such as Picinguaba, can also be reached by car.
Unfortunately, the locals and traditional villages of the region are permanently under pressure, as their land is among the most expensive in Brazil. While Paraty turns over huge sums with tourism, the city's main source of income, the inhabitants of the traditional villages often live in poor conditions. Turismo Comunitário directly supports the inhabitants, creates perspectives, and increases local income.

Water sports - surfing, diving, snorkeling, paddling

The coast around Paraty is widely known for its beautiful underwater world. Visitors can be enchanted by snorkeling or diving among colorful fish and turtles. Be it on a small boat tour, a diving taster course, or a schooner trip through the bay, one of the most traditional excursions in Paraty. The trip takes you to different islands and beaches, and guests have the opportunity to snorkel.

On a kayak tour, one gets very close to the water and can see the underwater world with the naked eye. With the long sea kayaks, the beaches, islands, and mangroves can be explored individually and privately.

For surfing, surfers will find the best conditions on the western side of the peninsula. The small, alternative beach town of Trindade is only about 40 minutes away from Paraty and can be reached via a winding little coastal road. There are a few small stores along the main road and one beach restaurant follows another on the main beach, Praia Trindade just off the village center. However, if you walk to the neighboring beaches of Praia Brava or Praia do Cachadaço, it becomes much quieter. On the rocks that surround the bays, the waves of the Atlantic break to the delight of the surfing community. Surfboards can be rented in Paraty, in Trindade, or directly on the beach.

Active tours - hiking, trekking, rafting, mountain biking

If you like to be active and sporty during your vacation, you can go for a hike or get on your bike or mountain bike to explore Paraty's surroundings. One of the most popular bicycle routes leads into the hinterland to various waterfalls, such as Poço do Tarzan, Pedra Branca, or Sete Quedas. Those who prefer to visit them more leisurely can also take a guided jeep tour into the hinterland.

Those who want to experience the clear mountain rivers even wilder should take a rafting tour on the Rio Mambucaba. The river rises at an altitude of over 1,000 meters and makes its way through the Serra da Bocaina National Park to the sea. The 5-kilometer rafting route offers Class II and III whitewater sections, and aside from the rafting adventure itself, the trip is a great way to dive deep into the Atlantic Rainforest.

The region around Paraty is crisscrossed by a network of trails. These are historic routes connecting villages, but since the construction of the road and the use of motorboats in everyday life, they are little used. Some of these paths have already been reclaimed by the jungle. They are accessible to visitors only with a machete and a local guide.
An easy day hike to one of the most beautiful beaches in the region leads along a well-marked path to Praia do Sono. The white sandy beach and clear waters are perfect for swimming, and the local beach restaurants and snack bars of the caiçaras treat visitors to traditional fish dishes.
The area around Paraty is also a paradise for experienced hikers. Day hikes can be taken to climb the peaks of the rocky jungle mountains. Fabulous views of the coastal landscape await hikers on the Pico do Pão de Açúcar do Mamanguá, for example.
Hikes and treks lasting several days along the bays and fjords with crossings of the coastal mountains are more demanding, but worth every effort. Among the most beautiful tours are the two-day trekking tour to the Saco Bravo waterfall or the five-day tour "Volta da Joatinga" from bay to bay, circling the Joatinga peninsula. The path runs far from the tourist centers on jungle trails, leads from one dream beach to the next, and passes waterfalls and some picturesque fishing communities like Ponta Negra and Cajaiba. You can spend the night in a tent or in the simple guest rooms of the locals, who also offer excellent fish dishes.

For climbers, the steep granite walls of the Serra da Bocaina offer the best conditions. Last but not least, some of Brazil's most famous climbing centers and crags are located in the hinterland between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Experience Paraty and the Costa Verde - beaches, bays, waterfalls, and rainforest

The diverse options in and around Paraty offer visitors of all ages a unique travel experience on a Brazil vacation. In addition to classic excursions such as a city tour or a boat trip along the fjords and bays, the dense Atlantic Rainforest and the many beaches invite you to explore the surrounding countryside. The region can be explored individually on private tours with a guide or by rental car.
Culinary and cultural highlights in the midst of one of the most beautiful landscapes of the country inspire families, couples on their honeymoon, adventurers, and individual travelers alike.

Even if the historic center of Paraty or some beaches are very popular among locals on carnivals, holidays, or weekends, visitors can also enjoy the tranquility of nature in the mountains and discover secluded bays and beaches by boat on these days.

If you want to experience Paraty and the Costa Verde on a Brazil vacation, you don't have to travel far. The region around Paraty is only a few hours' drive from Copacabana and Rio de Janeiro International Airport. A visit to Paraty can be ideally combined with a stay in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. In addition, Ilha Grande, a true natural paradise and popular destination for those seeking rest and relaxation, is located not far from Paraty's coast.

Source: Aventura do Brasil