Jericoacoara, Kitesurfing & My Own Private Beach Bungalow

Known for its giant rolling sand dunes and stellar kitesurfing conditions, Jericoacoara or “Jeri” as it’s known, is the coolest little beach town in Northeastern Brazil.

It is a seven-hour journey from Fortaleza to Jericoacoara via public transportation (five hours in a private car), but as I mention in the video, that distance is par for the course when traveling anywhere here in Brazil.

No matter the distance, I knew I made the right decision as soon as the sun shined on my first morning on Prea Beach.

I woke up with the cool ocean breeze blowing through the open beach bungalow while waves crashing outside served as the soundtrack.

My friends over at Rancho do Peixe set me up with my own private oasis for a few nights on Preá Beach, just down from Jericoacoara, and I cherished every minute of it.

Rancho do Peixe - Prea Beach - Brazil

After a delicious breakfast, I decided to try my hand at Kite Surfing for the first time.

Because of such great wind conditions in the area, this is home to some of the most popular kitesurfing coastline in Brazil.

I fell in love with the give and take between the kite and it’s director, proving that leverage and positioning trumped strength and force.

I spent hours trying to harness the kitesurfing techniques and even spent time in the water gliding across the surface on my stomach as my instructor coached me from shore via walkie-talkie.

Kitesurfing Lessons in Jericoacoara Brazil

We wrapped it up just in time for me to get hooked on a new sport and then I caught a ride down the beach and across the sand dunes for an afternoon in Jericoacoara.

Jeri was peaceful and quiet, with a great hippie vibe to go along with the sandy streets.

There were small restaurants and tour shops everywhere, but it didn’t seem overwhelmingly touristy thanks to the visible local population.

While most visitors spend their days exploring the beautiful Jericoacoara National Park that surrounds town, everybody seems to migrate back in time to climb the giant sand dune at the edge of town to have some drinks and watch the amazing sunset over the Atlantic.

Jericoacoara Brazil

Night time in Jericoacoara brings in added layer of relaxation after long days in the sun.

With live music echoing through the streets and dim lighting provided by street vendor stalls and restaurant candles, it’s a wonderfully chill atmosphere to be a part of.

So much so that I didn’t nothing at all on my second day in town. : )

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Bonito Brazil: Mother Nature’s Playground

When I asked Brazilian friends on places I should visit while traveling in southwestern Brazil, the overwhelming response was always Bonito.

The small town of just over 17,000 people is tucked away in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul and is one of the most popular Brazilian tourist destinations in the region.

Famous for its abundance of natural beauty, including wildlife, waterfalls and crystal-clear rivers, Bonito, is one of the best outdoor adventure spots I’ve ever visited.

On day one I rented a bike from town and road through the countryside to two different eco parks/public baths, Porto da Ilha and Balneário do Sol. I loved the freshwater pools that connected to small waterfalls and wildlife surrounding my every move.

No question, the zip-line into the pool at Balneário do Sol was the highlight. 

I got lucky with the Rodeo being in town, so that evening I ventured over to the Brazilian Rodeo at the Clubes de Laço (lasso club) just outside Bonito to experience a different aspect of Brazilian culture.

I couldn’t believe how similar the Brazilian rodeo culture was to ours in the States. Just a bunch of good ‘ol boys trying to have a good time. 

The next morning I drove over to Recanto Ecologico Rio da Prata (The Silver River Ecological Reserve) to snorkel the beautiful transparent water teaming with aquatic life.

As I mentioned in the video, thanks to the enormous amount of limestone in the ground around Bonito, the water passes through a natural filter that leaves the rivers to be some of the clearest and most transparent in the world.

To maintain its beauty, there is a daily limit to how many people can enter the water so you have to reserve a spot in advance. 

From there we went to Buraco das Araras (Sinkhole of the Macaws) to witness hundreds of Macaws and other exotic birds fly around the giant redrock hole in the ground.

It was a captivating moment that felt like something out of a Pixar movie. 

That night I experienced the quiet and lovely downtown Bonito and drank some locally brewed cachaca at the popular Taboa.

Needless to say, it was a great weekend in Bonito Brazil and I can’t wait to come back again soon.

There are still a ton of things to do in Bonito Brazil that I missed, like… Abismo Anhumas, Lagoa Misteriosa, Boca da Onca Waterfall, Aquario Natural, Rio do Peixe, Rio Sucuri, Gruta do Lago Azul and Parque das Cachoeiras to name a few.

Hotel provided by Aguas de Bonito

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Top Things to do in Bonito Brazil

Top 5 Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro

I spent the last year living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and have had the opportunity to experience many beautiful beaches in and around the city.

The beach culture in Rio is awesome and it is transparent in all facets of life here, especially on Sundays! That is the day that many locals head down to their favorites beaches to meet friends and enjoy a relaxing day in the sun.

Thanks to the Barracas (beachside shops), you don’t need to bring anything with you besides a little cash and some sun screen. You can rent chairs and umbrellas right there as well as buy beers, coconut water and Brazilian food from the vendors along the beach.

Check out my Brazilian Beach Etiquette Guide for more information.

With all the time I spent discovering and enjoying the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, I decided to put together a list of my favorite spots…

Here are my Top 5 Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

5.) Flamengo Beach (Praia do Flamengo)

Flamengo Beach - Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Flamengo Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Right next to Botafogo Beach, is one of the Best Beaches in Rio for exercise and fitness.

From Flamengo Beach, you can get a great view across the bay at Niteroi and Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar).

It’s much more of a local spot for sunbathers and fishermen, but it’s great for sports and activities (especially after the sun goes down) like soccer, volleyball and futevolei.

4.) Red Beach (Praia Vermelha)

Praia Vermelha - Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Praia Vermelha in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tucked into the quiet neighborhood of Urca, below Sugarloaf Mountain, Praia Vermelha is a great place to unwind and escape the crowds at some of the other beaches in Rio.

3.) Copacabana Beach (Praia de Copacabana)

Copacabana Beach - Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Copacabana beach is one of the most famous stretches of sand in the world and for very good reason. It’s the most popular spot for tourists in Rio and is a great place to enjoy the sun and do some people watching.

2.) Joatinga Beach (Praia da Joatinga) 

Joatinga Beach - Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Joatinga Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It’s a bit of a journey to go to Barra de Tujica, but there you will find some of the best beaches in all of Brazil. Usually there are a lot less tourists and a different vibe than what you’ll find in Copa or Ipanema.

From all the beaches of “Barra (Baha),” my selection is the secluded local favorite, Joatinga beach.

1.) Ipanema Beach (Praia de Ipanema)

Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Every day is hump day at Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema Beach

My absolute favorite place in all of Rio de Janeiro, the incredible, bustling beauty that is Ipanema Beach.

Ipanema has the size of Copacabana with the most beautiful crowd. It’s big and busy and awesome! With views of Morro Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers Mountain), tiny bikinis and refreshing water. To me, Ipanema Beach is the absolute best beach in Rio de Janeiro.

For the best view of sunset in Rio de Janeiro, head down to the end of Ipanema Beach to the rocks of Arpoador where you can join the crowd in applauding when the sun drops into the sea.

Which one would you choose?

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Watch Best Beaches in Florianopolis Next!


Private Tour Guides in Rio de Janeiro – Rio Cultural Secrets

Rio de Janeiro Private City Tours

There are literally a million and one things to do in Rio de Janeiro and it’s no wonder why they call this place the “Marvelous City.”

You can spend weeks exploring the best beaches in Rio de Janeiro alone, but there is so much more to see and do!

From the downtown financial district to the hillside favelas, Rio boasts one of the most diverse urban landscapes you will ever see.

I was fortunate enough to spend the past year living in Rio de Janeiro, but if you’re short on time, I highly recommend enlisting locals to help show you around.

Enter Fabio and Alan of Rio Cultural Secrets, a great, locally owned private tour guides in Rio de Janeiro.

These two offer a variety of private city tours in and around Rio that will give you a wonderful glimpse into the Brazilian life and culture.

I don’t know how they are in business together considering Alan is a Flamengo fan, while Fabio supports Fluminense, but their personal approach and passion for what they do trumps their soccer club loyalties.

When I get back to Rio, I want to go with them to explore Petropolis, as I haven’t had a chance to visit the nearby city.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for Rio de Janeiro private city tours, take a look at what else they offer…

Rio Cultural Secrets - Private City Tours in Rio de Janeiro

Alan showing off a Santa Teresa Art Gallery

Rio City Tours – In seven hours you and your friends will visit the main attractions with your tour guide in Rio like the one of the seven world wonders The Christ the Redeemer, the Sugar Loaf Mountain, The fantastic street art of the Selaron Staircase also the amazing area of Santa Teresa with delicious food, also the Samba Arena and we finish in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro.

Walking Tours – In this Walking Tour Rio de Janeiro you will have the opportunity to know how the citizens works around the financial district and Historic buildings that tell the story of the city and the country. Visit the famous Cafe Colombo, the Praça XV de Novembro, The Cinelândia Square, Convento de Santo Antonio, Candelaria Church and much more!

Rio Cultural Secrets - Private City Tours in Rio de Janeiro

Fabio with a tour group at Sugarloaf Mountain

Half-Day Tours – Options include; exploring the Temple of Soccer, Maracana Stadium, the place of two world cup finals, discovering the Tijuca Forest and Botanical Garden where Toucans and monkeys can be our partners during the tour, or, the third option is the Private Tour Barra Beaches and Folcloric Museum where you will visit the desert beaches of Rio de Janeiro like Prainha, Barra Grumari and Recreio. A fourth option is to see the fantastic historic Downtown with culture and history together with Santa Teresa, Ruins Park and the Selaron Steps.

Favela Tours – Since 2008 the UPP Project are giving benefits to the poor locations in Rio de Janeiro. The Favela of Vidigal is one of the best examples. Today it is a place of safety and development, and receives visitors from all over the globe. You can do the favela tour on its own or combine it with other aspects of the private tours, like visiting the Botanical Garden, Tujica National Forest and/or Chinese lookout.

Outside of Rio Tours – Take a private tour to the Imperial City of Petropolis, where the royal family spent summers from the time of the monarchy. Venture across the bridge to neighboring Nitreroi, where the French-founded city charms everyone with her beauty, gastronomy and architecture.

For more of an adventure, take a private tour to paradise AKA Ilha Grande, which is the biggest island of Angra dos Reis with around 100 beaches! I repeat, 100 beaches!!!

The greatest aspect of Rio Cultural Secrets is the fact that these are private tours and can be customized to your liking.

Whichever tour you decide, just get down to Rio and see it for yourself, and when you’re here, be sure to look up Alan and Fabio for a tour and tell them Gareth of told you to Travel Deeper!

Beach Park Adventures in Fortaleza

Beach Park is Brazil’s largest water park and you’d be a fool to think I’d come this far and not go visit.

I consider myself a water park aficionado, and when I found out that Beach Park was just a short drive away from downtown Fortaleza, I was all in!

With that scheduled for day two in Fortaleza, I spent my first day in town exploring the city.

It was hot, very hot, which definitely limited my movement and enthusiasm until the sun went down. However, I really enjoyed Fortaleza, there’s a raw beauty to the old colonial buildings pressed against a beautiful waterfront.

I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a live Forró concert that first night and really enjoyed the music and people watching.

The second day I headed to Beach Park to stay and explore the water park.

Not only is it Brazil’s largest water park, but it is also home to the second tallest body water slide in the world! Just recently knocked off of the number one spot, Insano, the 135-foot, 14-story drop is… Insane!

The greatest thing about a slide like this is that it scares so many people, there’s no line! Actually, when I arrived to the top of Insano the first time, two grown men waved me forward because they were still trying to overcome their fears.

As you can see from the video, this wasn’t the first time Beach Park tested the will of men!

If your travels ever take you to Northeastern Brazil, which they should, I highly recommend you come spend a day here at the park.

Insano Beach Park Fortaleza Brazil

Read all about my Beach Park experience on the Visit Brasil Blog.

Watch the Beach Park Fortaleza – Travel Deeper Brazil episode here