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Praia de Búzios, Natal

© Creative Commons / deborasant

Natal beaches

Natal is experiencing a tourist boom. Only a decade ago it was the forgotten city in the north of Brazil, overlooked by tourists. Since then hotels, bars and restaurants have sprung up all over the city due to the growing demand from tourists arriving to take advantage of the tropical beaches, warm sea, high dunes and lush Atlantic forest that sweeps along the whole coastline.


There are several beaches to choose from, the main three being the surf beach of Praia dos Artistas to the north, then Praia de Areia Preta, with Praia Ponta Negra to the south. Areia Preta and Ponta Negra are separated by an 8km (5 miles) long stretch of sand, known as Via Costeira because of the hotel-lined coast road that runs along it. Ponta Negra is the most scenic as it is backed by the 120m (393ft) high Morro do Careca sand dune. There are information booths situated on all the main beaches and beach goers can head off on beach buggy excursions, camel ride across the beach, snorkel, dive, windsurf, kitesurf or try skiing or tobogganing down the sand dunes.

Beyond the beach

The Parque das Dunas is made up of protected Atlantic forest and has many hiking trails, with plenty of wildlife. Holidaymakers can head into the old part of the city (Cidade Alta) to visit one of the many museums. The most popular is the Museu Câmara Cascudo, Avenida Hermes da Fonseca 1398, which features a collection of Amazon Indian artefacts. The Forte dos Reis Magos or 'Fort of the Wise Kings' (Praia do Forte) at the mouth of the Rio Potengi was where Natal was founded.

Family fun

Due to the many beaches, Natal makes a good family resort. Brazilians love children so families are always made welcome in restaurants and hotels alike. Families tend to stick to the beaches and go on buggy and camel trips. Children will enjoy capoiera (an acrobatic martial art dance) played on the beaches around Natal. Areobunda Jacumã, Lagoa Jacumã, Litoral Norte, has an improvised zip wire into a lake.

Exploring further

The beaches and coastal villages outside of Natal are an explorer's delight. Take a buggy excursion and hit the tall white dunes and warm lagoon at Genipabu north of Natal. Or head south towards Tibau do Sul, a large river estuary where you can take a kayak trip into the mangrove swamps. Below Tibau do Sul is the pretty town of Pipa, which used to be a tiny fishing village but in a decade has grown into a great destination with its boutique shops, great fish restaurants and beaches where dolphins frolic.

Splashing out

Natal is relatively cheap for western Europeans, so splashing out is an easy thing to do. Don't skimp on the fish and seafood. The northeast is famous for its enormous shrimps so take advantage by visiting the famous restaurant Camarões on Avenida Roberto Freire 2610. A trip to Natal would not be complete without visiting Feitico Mineiro (Praia do Meio) - a smart restaurant with a wide range of cachaças (distilled sugar cane spirit) from all over the country. Casual wear is suitable for both.

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