[updated October, 2010]
I have visited many interesting places in Brazil (I have been there three times so far). People ask me a lot about what places I recommend visiting so I put together this list and pass it on to friends and family when needed. Here is the list (for more pictures of each place I list, simply Google-search the names below):
1) Fernando de Noronha: beautiful beaches and only 400 or so tourists allowed on the island at a time. definately an amazing place to see. My favorite part of our family vacation to Brazil was this little secluded island off the coast of Recife called Fernando de Noronha. We ended up staying in a Bed and Breakfast with some of the locals on the island. The first night we left all of our bags in our rooms and walked down to the nearest of 20 beaches on the island. Each of these twenty beaches has its own character, charm and beauty. The island as a whole is beautiful. Just gorgeous. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect place. Warm, secluded, beautiful scenery, an ideal place. Just off the soft sand of the beaches, low rocky hills embraced the beach like protective arms. When we climbed these, we found natural pools filled with clear, warm water, placed sporadically throughout the area. It was a paradise. There were no gates around the houses like the rest of Brazil because there is virtually no crime there. Just peace-loving locals that have lived there their whole live, which is , by the way, the only way you can become a resident of the island.
Being an archipelago home to thousands of species of all kinds of animal life, strict laws are abided by. Almost no cars exist, to help clean the air, only four-person buggies roaming around the streets. You can walk from beach to beach and when you need a ride you can hop in the back of someone’s buggy that might be passing by. Everyone’s like family there and they’ll give you a lift or even a tour. For $20.00 we were able to take a trip around the whole island by boat and they promise a 97% chance of having the company of dozens of dolphins swim side-by-side with your boat. We were able to see the dolphins and it was beautiful. It was a neat experience.
Just on the island, though, we ended up seeing an octopus, a Lixa Shark (harmless and common on the “rough side” of the island), a tortoise, moray eels, a sea snake, dolphins, and several sting rays. We also saw many schools of large, colorful fish swimming through the remainders of a sunken ship. We estimated that we could see for about 40′ in the crystal-clear water. I could go on and on about this miraculous little island in the ocean but I’m not trying to write a book on the place. Needless to say, it was an adventure. One night, hungry and without food or credit card, we fended for ourselves and struggled tirelessly to crack open coconuts to drink their milk and eat their fruit. That was a chore and a night to remember. Another one of the neat characteristics of the island is a beach called Praia do Sancho with its 30′ tall walls around it. One of us found a ladder which lead to a vertical passageway to the top of the hill. On top we found some interesting antique weapons of war and remnants of a military base. Climbing our way up through that tunnel and being surrounded by the natural beauty and lush forests felt like something out of a movie. I hope to one day return and visit this well-kept secret.
2) Porto de galinhas: supposed to have beautiful beaches too.
3) Rio de Janeiro: Lots of stuff to do and see. It has a little of everything. It has lush mountains, lush forests, beautiful beaches, large city.
4) Pantanal (found in Mato Grosso do Norte): ABUNDANT wildlife. Many,
many birds to see. you will see more wildlife here than if you travel to
5) Bonito: cool snorkeling here
6) Salvador: very old; lots of culture here (ca poeira- brazilian martial
art; old cathedrals, etc.)
7) Rio Grande do Sul: “southern” Brazil. much European/ German influence
here. generally lighter-skinned Brazilians, some interesting places to see. Porto Alegre: Nearby is Gramado- a German-style city with a large waterfall. It is comparable to Utah’s Park City in its uniqueness and touristy feel. Garopabo is a very cool surf/beach city a few hours away. Porto Alegre is home to the best churrascarias (brazilian bbq restaurants)
9) Sao Paulo: Just flying over the airport and city is good enough. It’s
cool to see so many tall buildings/skyscrapers but you can do that by flying
over the city. Once you’re in the city it is just like any other big city.
It’s dirty, too.
10) Amazonas: on a boat trip in the Amazons we saw some pink dolphins as we were fishing for piranhas. I caught 6 piranhas with a simple stick, string, and bloody meat attached to the string on a hook. Eating cooked piranha was not very tasty. Also in the river, we could see aligator’s eyes at night. Our host jumped in the water and caught a baby alligator and jumped back in the boat with it so we could hold it. We swam in the Amazon river during the day (that was kind of scary). Monkey’s played around the hotel all day long. The bigger monkeys let you pick them up and play with them, too.
[updated October, 2010]