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By Anna Fitzpatrick, Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Often over shadowed by the pizazz of Rio and it’s famous coast line, the beaches in São Paulo State are popular with Paulistas and offer a variety of choice for the summer holidays, without having to travel far from Brazil’s largest city.

Ilha das Couves, Ubatuba
Ilha das Couves, Ubatuba, photo by Whl Travel/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Divided into the Litoral Norte which stretches from São Paulo to Rio and the Litoral Sul heading down to Paraná, it is the beaches en route to Rio that are the state’s most popular.

With white sand, powerful surf, wildlife, clubbing venues and island resorts all fringed with rainforest, they offer something for everyone. Following is an overview of some of the best SP beaches to spend the holidays.

Maresias:
If hitting the beach at sunrise for a hard day’s surf and partying until dawn sounds like heaven, Maresias is the beach for you. This party and surf beach has proved its popularity with cool, hip Paulistanos who flock to the 5km long, white sand beach.

Its popularity can be seen in the number of bars, restaurants and places to stay in the town. It is not just the white sand and surf that attracts the crowd here, home to the Sirena club an important venue on the dance music scene, this is a happening place.

For quieter and smaller beaches nearby, head south to Toque Toque Grande and Toque Toque Pequeno. Like most of the beaches along the coast, they are sheltered by rainforest and are less developed than Maresias with good snorkeling.

Ubatuba:
Almost half way to Rio and nestling in the feet of the Serra do Mar mountains is Ubatuba, a picturesque length of shore-line in the North of the state. With a name meaning ‘many boats’ in the Tupi language, it is more often referred to as Uba Chuva (chuva meaning rain in Portuguese) due to the amount of rain it receives. However, do not let this put you off, the district of Ubatuba offers access to over seventy beaches, many hidden and often deserted.

For a party beach that draws comparisons with Copacabana, head south of the town to Praia Grande. However, for those willing to travel there is plenty to discover, the coast is ripe for exploring, especially to the North of the town where Vermelha do Norte and further still, UNESCO protected Brava da Almada, are well worth the effort.

For surfing, the most popular beach is Itamambuca, a popular location for national and international surfing competitions. It is also possible to visit Ilha Anchieta, a state park and island on which only a few fishermen reside, to visit Projeto TOMAR, a national sea turtle protection project.

Praia da Fome, Ilhabela
Praia da Fome, Ilhabela is only accessible by boat, photo by Chaval Brasil/Flickr Creative Commons Licence.

Ilhabela:
Extremely popular during the holidays and weekends, but practically deserted during the week, Ilhabela is one of the largest, most beautiful and fashionable islands in Brazil. The gateway to the Ilhabela is São Sebastião, a colonial town of historical relevance, where ferries depart to the island hourly.

Covered in rainforest with long hidden beaches and secret bays, the island has only two roads, one paved and one a dirt track, making transportation around the island somewhat tricky. The best way for exploring is by jeep, boat (schooner) or hiking the steep trails for the more adventurous. Easily accessible beaches are Praia do Curral and Feiticeira, which can be reached on foot from Vila Ilhabela, a central town on the island.

Popular for scuba diving due to the number of shipwrecks off the island, there are also reputable surf beaches, namely Praia dos Castelhanos and Bonete, also the islands longest beach and accessed by a rough forest trail.

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