THE SAND DUNES OF BRAZIL
Among its diverse terrains, one not-so-well-known fact is that Brazil has several great spots to enjoy sand dunes, called dunas in Portuguese. Tourist companies have taken advantage of this delightful anomaly and made it possible for visitors to have the opportunity to do some dune surfing. Here is a list that I’ve made based on my own research of the best places for sand boarding in Brazil:
1. JERICOACOARA, CEARÁ (NEAR FORTALEZA)
Jericoacoara, or ‘Jeri’, as the locals affectionately refer to the small coastal settlement that shares the park’s name, was ‘discovered’ by hippies in the 1970s. It has since become a hotspot for dune, wind and kite surfers – strong gusts making it the perfect site for such adrenaline sports.
The dunes at Jericoacoara, located about 320 km west of the popular capital city Fortaleza, are located inside of a national park called o Parque Nacional de Jericoacoara. There are two ways to get to Jericoacoara from Fortaleza: 1. By bus (the terminal, called a rodoviária in Portuguese, is located at Av. Borges de Melo, 1630 Bairro de Fátima in Fortaleza) 2. Or you can drive there. Once you arrive in Jericoacoara, you will need to ride by buggy or 4×4 to reach the dunes because you are essentially off-roading to get there. You will find different companies that offer these tours; a solid one is Jeri Off Road http://www.jeri.tur.br/. By the way, dune buggying is a possible alternative way to enjoy the dunes at Jericoacoara if you don’t feel like surfing, you can at least explore the beautiful dunes by trolling around in a fast, potentially air-conditioned 4×4. Off-roading is a popular sport here. In Portuguese, they call the 4×4′s “buggys,” pronounced “boogies”. Whether you prefer a dune buggy, a 4 X 4, a quad bike, or a horse, riding on the beach and the dunes is breathtaking.
One other popular activity that some may be interested in while visiting the dunes is horseback riding. In these small coastal cities, horseback rides along the dunes and the adjacent ocean shore are one of the more popular activities that adventure companies offer. This can be a great way to enjoy the scenery, and some pretty amazing sunsets.
Jericoacoara is known for the for the daily tradition of watching the sun set. Due to its location, this is one of the few places in Brazil where you can see the light fade over the sea.
2. CUMBUCO, CEARÁ (EVEN CLOSER TO FORTALEZA)
Cumbuco, a small holiday village next to the state capital Fortaleza, is a paradise for lovers of wind or kitesurfing, and just a perfect place for anyone willing to relax on the beach without a necessity to travel too far away from the airport. Only 35 km separates the urban life of Fortaleza from the idyllic beaches and dunes of this scenic village.
By the way, because the sand dunes of Brazil are mostly adjacent to coastal beaches, these areas tend to be popular destinations for other sports such as kitesurfing, kiteboarding and windsurfing. In Cumbuco, there are companies that will take you by dune buggy to go kite surfing for the day, and they will accompany you along the shore as you surf. Beaches along the coast of the Brazilian state Ceará, like the ones of Cumbuco are world famous destinations to enjoy some of the best winds in all of Brazil. The winds are said to be perfect, and many professional kitesurfers from around the world come here to train.
3. JOAQUINA BEACH IN FLORIANÓPOLIS, SANTA CATARINA
The city of Florianópolis is close to my heart. Having lived here for years, I grew up exploring the dunes of Joaquina and the nearby beaches. The sand dunes in Florianopolis are second to none. Nature has been kind to the Santa Catarina locale and provided it with God given advantages that few other places can boast. The sand dunes are massive, clocking in at up to ten feet tall in certain areas, thus making them perfect for sandboarding. Joaquina Beach is simply amazing for dune surfing, and best of all it is one of the cheapest activities you can choose to do in Floripa. The beach itself is gorgeous, and in November and December, you can see hoards of people queuing up to go down the dunes on their boards which just goes to show how big the attractions now are.
The best time to try dune surfing Florianopolis style is May to October when fewer people are there. For a meagre $1.50 to $2.50, you can hire a board for a few hours and get someone to teach you how to use it.
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to ask questions or comment below, or just shoot me an e-mail, I’d love to hear from you!