By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the hot summer season gets closer in Brazil, there is nothing like a getaway to a nice beach area nearby. Still little known among many foreign travelers, the district of Itacuruçá might be just the spot to add to the itinerary.
With three islands, great beaches, waterfalls and cultural attractions, Itacuruçá is the perfect destination for a relaxing break in a natural paradise.
The archipelago is one of the Cariocas’ favorite escapes during the weekends, especially for its proximity – it takes approximately 1.5 hours to get there.
Located in the Southern Rio State, Itacuruçá is a small district of Mangaratiba, municipality that is part of the region known as Costa Verde (Green Coast), which also comprehends the famous cities of Paraty and Angra dos Reis.
Back in the day, Itacuruçá and its surroundings were all occupied by Brazilian indigenous peoples like the Tamoios and the Tupinambás. After the Portuguese settled in, in the sixteenth century, Itacuruçá was transformed into a colonial village. The aesthetics of the colonial neoclassical architecture remains in some of Itacuruçá’s buildings until the present day.
Itacuruçá’s economy is currently led by agricultural goods – like banana and sugar cane – the fishing activity and the tertiary sector, with tourism playing a key role in the district’s income.
The archipelago is composed of three islands: Itacuruçá, Martins and Jaguanum. At the first one, visitors can easily get to the Praia Grande beach, the busiest and most famous one. If a more chilled, relaxing vibe is what you want, a trail or a taxi boat takes you to the Prainha beach, which is deserted for most of the year.
Another great option in the Itacuruçá Island is the Águas Lindas (Beautiful Waters) beach. As the name suggests, the most stunning shades of green can be seen in these waters. With its rustic fishers’ village and some bars, Águas Lindas is picked by those who want to enjoy the nature accompanied by a cold beer and good seafood.
Different from the Itacuruçá Island, both Jaguanum and Martins are more distant from the continent. Thus, the only way to get there is via sloop, which is one of the main touristic attractions in the region. The trip to the paradisiac beaches of Leste and Funil, in Martins, is definitely worth it. The touristic sloop to Martins depart from the Madeira Island, close to the Sepetiba Bay.
Close to the Itacuruçá district are some waterfalls, like the fifty-meter high “Itinguçú. At Muriqui, a neighbor district, a twenty-minute walk takes you to the breath-taking Véu da Noiva (Bride’s Veil) waterfall, where visitors can enjoy the natural pool at its top.
The adventurers will certainly love the trails in the region’s mountain range, like the Serra da Calçada and the Mirante do Imperador. However, it is recommended to go to these trails with a local experienced guide.
At Itacuruçá, one can also find cultural and historical attractions to visit. Built in 1840, the Nossa Senhora de Sant’Ana church offers a panoramic view of the Itacuruçá island and canal.
Situated in the Jaguanum island, the São Pedro church, from 1884, preserves its original French roof tiles. One must also check the district’s old train station, a building from the nineteenth century that now works as a cultural center.
To get to the district of Itacuruçá from Rio de Janeiro, follow the Brasil Avenue until the end and then take the Rio-Santos Road (BR-101) until the Kilometer 25. The Costa Verde bus company operates from Rio to Itacuruçá daily.