By Joshua Rapp Learn, Contributing Reporter
MACEIÓ – Shallow azure waters lap against white sands, the crashing of the waves insulated by a protective reef just off the beach. Modern high rises cradle the shoreline with wave-like balconies and glass that shines incandescently against the rising sun rays. Palm leaves rustle in the cool breeze above groups of fishermen, sailors and vendors selling coconuts from massive piles in the sand.
Maceió is the capital of the state of Alagoas and is a modern city with a population of nearly one million people. It is one of Brazil’s most up-and-coming resorts, with hotels and guest houses beginning to fill up in November for Maceió’s off-season Carnaval.
The city bursts with life during the Brazilian summer, while the rest of the year it is characterized by an easygoing, low-key atmosphere. On weekdays you will have the idyllic beaches virtually to yourself while sunny weekends boast a social beach life. And if the numerous beaches in the city are not enough, there are plenty of paradisaical beaches among the fishing villages dotting the coast just north of the city.
Apart from swimming in the blue gem-like waters, locals offer sailboat trips in small, colorful jangadas to natural swimming holes cut into the reef three kilometers off the beach. It is the perfect place to spend a hot afternoon as vendors supply seafood and caipirinhas – they barbecue fish, prawns and lobster and mix drinks in the back of a small jangada that hangs out on the reef.
Maceió’s residents enjoy a healthy outdoors lifestyle comparable to Rio de Janeiro. Joggers and cyclists race along the beach paths past volleyball courts and workout bars while others enjoy the numerous seafront restaurants or buy fresh catch at the many fish markets. On weekend nights, the city offers plenty of live music venues playing pop music and the ubiquitous forró, the rhythm of Northeast Brazil.
Compared to many of Brazil’s larger cities, especially in the Northeast, Maceió is reasonably safe and has good services and infrastructure. Nonetheless, it is still cheaper than many of the more established vacation spots in the south of the country.
The prices in Maceió indicate that although the city has certainly been discovered in terms of national tourism, it is still relatively unknown on the international market.
A fully-furnished one-bedroom apartment on the beach rents for around R$900/month while a three-bedroom apartment goes for around R$1,800. One-bedroom apartments no more than two blocks from the beach sell for upwards of R$90,000 while three bedrooms start at R$600,000.
“Prices drop considerably for places a few blocks away from the beach,” says realtor Gilson Alves. Gilson or his colleague Willams Andrade can be reached at Rua Teófilo Otoni, 54 in Pajuçara (tel 55 82 8874 0237 or 9141 6344).