With many folk jetting off to Brazil over the coming weeks to experience what is bound to be one of the most picturesque settings for a World Cup in years, why not make the most of your time between matches and explore the Costa Verde (Green Coast).
I visited Brazil on a backpacking on holiday back in 2012 and really fell in love with the place. After spending our first four nights in a swish-ish hotel in Rio, we decided to rough it a bit, jump on a bus and explore the Costa Verde (the lush green coastline south of Rio). The one place we stopped off at which will always live long in my memory is the historic colonial town of Paraty.
Paraty is around a 3hr 30min bus journey (the buses are excellent in Brazil by the way) from Rio and is an old colonial town with architecture dating back to the 1600s. The town is surrounded by stunning beaches, tropical islands, rainforest and mountains rising up from the coast to a height of roughly 1300 metres. On my visit I managed to catch the flooding of the towns historic district. Once every month a combination of the full moon and high tide creates an abnormally high tide which pours into the cobbled streets via special openings in the seawalls that separate the city from the harbour. It comes and goes fairly quickly, but is something definitely worth experiencing.
There’s plenty of stuff to do in and around Paraty and I’m not going to bore you with all my exploits, but if you’re only planning on a short stay, here’s my pick of what I found most enjoyable:
- Trindade Beach: An amazing beach just a 5 minute bus ride south of Paraty, with it’s own secluded salt water lagoon (piscina natural) thats home to an abundance of tropical fish.
- Cachoeira Toboga Waterslide: A bike ride away inland to the rain forest reveals a water slide covered in algae which makes it slippery as can be. I only managed to go down on my arse, but some of the local kids surf down the thing. Check out the video I filmed below.
- Cachaca Distillery: Not far from the waterside, this is an original cachaca distillery where they produced Brazil famous sugarcane based spirit. You can buy a bottle for next to nothing, but be careful not to smash it in you bag on the way back!
- Mud Beach: As it sounds, you jump around on a beach of soft (sinking) mud. It’s like quick sand so it’s pretty funny watching people attempting to themselves get out, but loads of fun.
When it came to finding accommodation, we opted in a very good cheap hostel called the Misti Chilli (we were skint by this point). For only £27 per night (including breakfast) we got a large room with double bed, bunk bed, private en-suite with a private terrace overlooking the beach. However, I’m planning a return trip in the not too distance future and I’m considering booking into one of Paraty’s ace boutique hotels such as the Casa Turquesa.
This hotel is up market so the rooms aren’t cheap (Brazil isn’t that cheap in general), but if you’re only planning a short stay or possibly looking for alternative honeymoon accommodation then these deluxe rooms look well worth splashing out on.
Finally, if you’re heading to the Costa Verde be sure you take the short boat trip to the tropical island of Ihla Grande. The island is approximately 9 miles off the mainland and really is an unspoilt paradise. You can buy transfers from Rio to Ihla Grande, which includes mini-bus and boat to the island for £30 all in with the Greentoadbus company; believe me this is an absolute steal.
There are plenty of good hostels in Abraao, which is the main village on Ihla Grande.. Although be aware there are no roads on the island so if you want to get around its either on foot or by taxi boat. We trekked mostly which was gruelling due to the heat. However, we reaped the fruits of our labour and stumbled across some of the most spectacular beaches I’ve ever seen.
Finally, if you’re keen for a good feed whilst on the island there’s a German fella who owns a restaurant in Abraao bay who does a cracking barbecue twice a week.The food was top notch with a selection of fresh meat and fish, as well as decent beer and a friendly vibe.
Here’s some of photos from my trip.
Have you been to Ihla Grande, Paraty or anywhere else on the Costa Verde? Feel free to share your experiences?