Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Brazil's Top 5 Beaches: Paraty

If you want to be spoilt for choice, then head to the 65 islands and 200 beaches of Paraty, a colonial town a few hours south of Rio. The beach at the town itself is nothing special, but if you make your way to the port in the old town, you’ll find private boats to take you around the island at your leisure, allowing you to explore a range of beautiful beaches, from tiny, secluded spots to larger stretches with bars and restaurants (only in peak season though). I’m not going to name a beach in Paraty – there are so many and some are so tiny that I’m not sure they even have names. Ask your boatman for advice or pick up a leaflet at the tourist office with a map of the different beaches. Or, whilst you’re sailing, just pick one that takes your fancy – at low season you could well have a beach to yourself. And they’re all gorgeous. Short stretches of white sand are topped and tailed by large rocks that lead into clear waters, perfect for snorkelling. The bigger boats, which ferry groups of people around the islands (you can book into one of these at any tourist office in the town and they're cheaper than hiring a private boat) often anchor at key snorkelling spots and throw bits of bread into the sea to attract fish. There's no need to really do this - the fish are around anyway - but it's guaranteed fish viewing. One of the funniest and certainly most surreal moments was when Marcelo, the guy driving our boat, took to us to one beach and jumped off the boat with us. He led us inland, up and over various rocks and into tight, narrow tunnels before emerging out into a sort of deep, wide hollow with a tiny crack in the ceiling, which allowed a stream of light in. All a bit strange, but kind of cool, too. So, take advice from the locals. He also took us to a lovely restaurant on one of the islands - so small was the island that the restaurant was the only thing on it. I actually went into a bit of detail in a previous post some months ago. Have a read again here. And if you don't like beaches (some people don't...), you can just sail around the islands and dive into the sea to cool off. I loved Paraty and would recommend anyone to stay there for a few days.

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