Party or Paraty? Both!

Ok, so you’ve got Impanema and Copacabana Beaches in Rio but if you’re going to Brazil you owe it to yourself to get in some real beach and relaxation time. My preliminary itinerary had me going from Belo Horizonte to Buzios (east of Rio), then to Rio and then Paraty before Sao Paulo. Buzios is definitely a place I’ll make it to next time, “one of the most known resort areas of Brazil, Buzios, is a peninsula surrounded by 8km of islands and beaches. What already was a small fishing town, is now a cozy place, where many shops are both sophisticated and rustic.” Buzios arrived on the world map after Brigitte Bardot spent time there in the 60’s, and since has drawn attention of artists and tourists all around the world.

But, my plans changed and Busios didn’t happen. I also started to hear whispers, as often happens when you’re travelling, of an island called Ilha Grande. Ilha Grande is supposedly more pristine, known more for it’s scuba diving than Paraty and has less tourists. It’s a large, luscious island with beautiful beaches and perfect for trekking, jeep touring, canyoning, and waterfalls. As I did more research I was torn between Paraty and Ilha Grande. I needed to be in Sao Paulo by Friday to enjoy the weekend, and I had extended in Rio so I was left with four days. Ilha Grande was doable in four days but due to its limited access by ferry it wasn’t going to be feasible to go both there and Paraty.

Why Paraty then? “Paraty is a preserved Portuguese colonial (1500-1822) and Brazilian Imperial (1822–1889) town with a population of about 36,000. It is located on the Costa Verde (Green Coast), a lush, green corridor that runs along the coastline of the state of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. Paraty has become a popular tourist area in recent years, renowned for the historic town and the coast and mountains in the region.” Plus, 40 minutes from Paraty is Trindade (pronounced Trin-daj-e), home of some of the most spectacular beaches I have ever seen. Accommodations were cheaper in Paraty and I read that the town’s anniversary was the second night I’d be there so I made my decision, I was off to Paraty.

Getting there from Rio was a breeze and I met a nice girl, Sofie, from Belgium/Barcelona/Brazil (most travellers have long stories) and we happened to be staying at the same hostel on Jabaquara Beach, called Sereia do Mar. Pickup from the bus station was included so I called the hostel upon arrival and soon we were picked up by Nicolas an Argentinian who has been living in Paraty since he was a child. We got settled and I quite enjoyed my private room with air conditioning, noting that besides my double bed it also had a set of bunk beds making it ideal for a single person, couple, friends travelling together or even a small family.

Sereia do Mar – “the mermaid of the sea” is a very special place. It is made of wood and it is truly charming, plus the staff are warm and inviting, bringing everyone together and socializing in the evenings with their guests. I loved the restaurant and bar ambiance, the overall experience was incredible and the hostel is unique. I definitely recommend it. Plus, their açai (Brazilian fruit sorbet) is some of the best I’ve had. Yum!

The drawback? Tons of mosquitos, but that was Paraty and the hostel is a 10 minute walk from town but it’s quite safe for anyone to walk alone and I often grabbed a ride from hotel staff/friends.

My first evening I thought perhaps I had made a terrible mistake in choosing Paraty over Ilha Grande. Paraty was run amok with tourists and I hadn’t seen a pricier place in a long time. Each store in the old town was touristy and while I was enjoying the scenery and imagining the history I felt I should have chosen Ilha Grande instead.

However, as I mentioned before, the people you meet and the experiences you have with them can make the difference. I spent my first day sleeping in and then crossed the street and went to the beach. Jabaquara beach is an ok alternative to enjoy the sun and sand but it by no means is the beach you should use as your barometer for the area. The beach itself is fairly nice if you walk down a bit but I have never swam in sea water that was as warm as it was; it was easily bath water and I didn’t find it to be the cleanest. So, I enjoyed the sun a bit and used the beach showers to refresh myself and they were great. Jabaquara Beach has a ton of little beach bar/restaurants some with better lounge chairs and table/chairs than others; the best one has wooden ones and is to the immediate right of the hostel. It is owned by Stefan from France/Dominica and the food is fantastic, however, you may have to remind Stefan several times to receive your order as he’s typically three sheets to the wind.

My first night I met a Parisian in the town square while Sofie was talking to some street peddler. The next day he happened by on the beach and we spent a delightful afternoon under the sun with Brahma cervejas (beers) and grilled langoustines with garlic, rice and salad. Try out your French with Stefan if you stay at Sereia do Mar – he’ll love you even more and all of the sudden you’ll find your langoustines costing you a third of what they charge you everywhere else.

Paraty was definitely the right choice and I miss it already! There are a few more adventures to come from my time in Paraty.  Next, part 2 of Paraty and more on the Parisian who ended up being weird and annoying. On a brighter note, one of the more beautiful beaches I’ve seen and new friends.

Xoxo. J

One Response to Party or Paraty? Both!

  1. Hi Julie! My story is very similar about my arrival to Paraty. I met an argentinian guy too, named Nicolas, but the hostel name was different, misti chill… Very nice ‘logbook’ about your trip to Paraty, which is the most beautifull place in Brazil (in my humble opinion)

    alansmithparaty March 12, 2012 at 6:05 PM Reply

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