Optimistically nicknamed “the Amazon’s Copacabana,” Praia da Ponta Negra is a far cry from Rio’s famous beach. Although the presence of the Hotel Tropical and a boardwalk stuffed with restaurants, bars, sports facilities, and an amphitheater has turned the area into a major tourist and recreational center, raw and ugly high-rises have given it an unseemly urban edge. It’s pleasant enough to walk around Ponta Negra, or to have a drink overlooking the river while watching the sunset.
Due to river flooding, the beach only appears during the dry season (August to January). Nonetheless, if you want to beat the tropical heat, there’s nothing like refreshing swim in the Rio Negro. Ponta Negra is located 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the center of Manaus. To get here take the 120 bus from Praça da Matriz.
For more tranquil and idyllic surroundings, head to the wilder beaches a little further out of town. Praia da Lua and the even more lovely Praia do Tupé (20–25 kilometers/12–16 miles away from Manaus) offer white sands backed by green foliage. Access to both beaches is by boat from the Estação Hidroviária. The trip down the Rio Negro takes about an hour. Like Ponta Negra, these beaches disappear during the rainy season.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition