Brazil - 10 Hidden Gems
Secluded beaches, unique wildlife, fun water parks, culture and history, or samba – there are so many different experiences in Brazil! Here are a few of our favourites.
Praia do Rosa
The bay of Praia do Rosa is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. It is a crescent-shaped quarter of golden sand and azure water, also famous for whale watching. Relax by the beach, or enjoy surfing, snorkelling and other water activities in the sea and in the many lagoons along the coast. There are also walking trails along the coastal cliffs and mountains, where you can enjoy spectacular coastal and mountain views.
Brazil is home to many spectacular hidden beaches.
Hidden and unspoiled, Alagoas is little known outside Brazil but boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world – the Costa dos Corais or Coral Coast, named for its beautiful coral reef which is second in size only to the Barrier Reef. Loved by the locals for its mix of local culture with beautiful design, traditional artesanato (handcrafts), gourmet food and comfort, it is also an ecological paradise, where residents care both about the environment and the local communities.
There are no high rises, just small two-story dwellings. Enjoy pristine sandy deserted beaches, as well as local handicrafts, offshore reefs and natural swimming pools. Take a boat out to the reefs, go windsurfing or relax by the pool.
Originally the capital of Brazil, Salvador is still one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in Brazil. The city has a rich history of African, Portuguese and native settlement, and was the site of the first slave market in the Portuguese New World. Many of its original pastel-coloured stucco buildings can still be seen today.
Take a walking tour of the old city to see the original fort built to protect the inhabitants from marauding sea raiders. Or see the beautiful Baroque sandstone façade of the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco, once covered over because of the inclusion of a Masonic symbol, and recently uncovered during a rewiring project. The city has many beautiful plazas and terraces, but check out the Terreiro de Jesus, a wonderful old square where many historical celebrations have been held. Four churches bound the square and there is always a colourful mix of traders, capoeiristas and locals.
Moreré beach, Bahia
Moreré is a small fishing village of just over 350 residents. In the village there are no roads, just a few sandy tracks leading to a small school, general store and some rustic beach bars and restaurants. The beaches are beautiful and mostly deserted. Pousada accommodation offers top-class, great value accommodation and wonderful food.
Samba school rehearsals, Rio
Carnaval begins and ends with the samba schools, whose spectacular dancing and costumes feature in the parade. Most schools hold samba practices on Saturday nights, starting in August and continuing until the final week before the actual parade, and it is sometimes possible to attend and watch a dance come together. The best time to visit is usually from December up to Carnaval, when dress rehearsals are held – the school will not always wear their costumes but it is still well worth watching. If you’re in Rio before the official rehearsal season, you can attend a samba school special feijoada lunch, where you can see a rehearsal and enjoy feijoada, a traditional Brazilian dish. Unidos da Tijuca samba schools also hold workshops on playing samba instruments, plus a behind-the-scenes look at the production during the off-carnival season.
This fishing village in southern Brazil is famous for its cooperative dolphins, who help the fishermen with their daily catch by driving schools of mullet into the nets.
It is also a harbinger of a colonial past, with many examples of Portuguese settlement in the architecture, food and culture.
Pousada Uacari, Tefé, Amazonas
A visit to the Amazon is a must, and what better way to experience its wonderful wildlife than on a floating jungle lodge in the middle of the Mamiraua reserve, deep in the heart of the jungle? The Pousada Uacari is the home of the rare Uacari monkey, unique to the Amazon region and recognizable for its short tail and red face, said to resemble an Englishman’s sunburn! Enjoy walking, local handicrafts, indigenous culture, hiking, flora and fauna, boat trips and bird-watching.
Brazil’s ‘Lost World’, Chapada Diamantina National Park is a setting for some of the wildest eco-adventures in Brazil. The natural landscape features red rock mesas, quartzite caves, crystal clear lakes and underground rivers with waterfalls sinking into quiet pools. Try exploring the area on foot, via canoes or riding donkeys. The town of Lençóis was the site of the original 19th century diamond rush that settled most of the region, and is a charming mix of cobblestone streets, pastel-coloured buildings and quaint little chapels.
The Projeto Tamar, Praia do Forte
Praia do Forte has been called Brazilian Polynesia, where white sand stretches as far as the eye can see. The Projeto Tamar, a sea turtle conservation project in Praia do Forte, began as a small-scale effort in the 1980s and has turned into an amazing Brazil-wide team effort to save this endangered species. Projeto Tamar monitors 1000 kilometres of beaches, with 20 stations in eight Brazilian states, ensuring that the turtles withstand predation and the destruction of their environment. Its goal is to rescue this beautiful species from endangerment and extinction, and a tour of the project is the best way to see the turtles in their feeding and reproduction areas.
For a change from sightseeing, take the family to Beachpark, one of the world’s largest and wildest water fun parks. Beachpark is one of the leading tourist attractions in the country, welcoming over one million tourists annually.
Until recently, the Insano ride held the Guinness World Record for ‘World’s Tallest Water Slide’ at 135 feet tall. Have fun on the Skybox, a transparent capsule that drops you 25 metres when the floor of the capsule opens at the press of a button. The Arca de Noé (Noah's Ark) area is exclusively for children and comprises 10 water attractions including three ramps, two mushroom showers, a large shower and a number of spraying nozzles.
As well as wild rides, there is a kids’ club, babysitting service, sauna, wet bar and massage, for those after something a little quieter. There are several accommodation options within the fun park, or you can stay nearby.