By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Founded in 1585, João Pessoa in Paraíba state, is the third oldest city in Brazil and a top destination for a beach vacation located between Natal and Recife in the northeast. Among its historical heritage with well preserved churches of the sixteenth century, the capital of Paraíba is also known for its ecological conservation. It is most known as a family destination full of history, marine life and local artisanal crafts and food.
The shores of João Pessoa is 35 kilometers in length offering ten tourist beaches with turquoise and very calm waters including Tambaú, Manaíra and Cabo Branco. The most popular beach village is Tambaú offering ocean front hotels, kiosks with live music, artisanal markets and seaside restaurants. The famous Tropical Tambaú resort, a circular spaceship like hotel is a must-see.
Tambaú is situated near the Picãozinho, a collection of corals located seven hundred meters from the shore. At low tide, the corals form a natural pool perfect for open water diving and swimming. There are various boat cruises that go out to the corals from R$30-R$50 for three hours of swimming and also offering a full bar and churrasco on board.
“We reach a capacity of a hundred people on board each day when we depart a 3PM,” says Jorge Bruno, captain of the 100% Lazer boat. “Our guests enjoy the beautiful scenes and underwater pictures we offer as souvenirs.”
Take a break from the beach for a day and visit some of the historical buildings and baroque style architecture that exist in the old city center. Local guides pass by the Catedral de Nossa Senhora das Neves (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Snows), built in 1602, the Church of Mercy in 1586, and the Centro Cultural San Francisco.
During the month of June for Festa Juninha, the city streets celebrate with forró music festivals and dancing, commemorating the month of Saint John.
Another highlight is the beach of Ponta do Seixas, the easternmost region of the Americas where the day is born earlier with the sun rising first than anywhere else in Brazil. The calm waters are an attraction for young children and the kiosks lining the beach offer whole fish lunch specials for three people from R$27-R$35.
In late afternoon before sunset, a good option is to either take a taxi or find a guide to go to Rio do Jacaré or Alligator River in Rio Paraiba, about fifteen minutes from downtown. Every day at 5PM when the sun begins to go down, the bars on the dock of the river fill with spectators to watch the sun set and the famous saxophonist (Jundira) who plays on a boat in the middle of the river, serenading everyone during the sunset.
Tambaba is the farthest beach from the city center at 34 kilometers away and is the only “naturist” beach in the northeast of Brazil. The beach is divided into two areas separated by natural barriers, one where nudism is forbidden and reserved for a family camping area, and another area where it is forbidden to wear clothes.