Beyond quaint buildings with tile roofs, the ocean stretches to the horizon.

The Beaches of Natal, Brazil

Natal is all about its beaches. From the calm waters of Praia do Forte to the beautiful sands of lively Ponta Negra, Brazil expert Michael Sommers guides you to the area’s best beaches and related sights.

A greek temple-facade stands next to a pool fountaining water.

Best Beach Barracas in Fortaleza, Brazil

Throughout the Northeast, beach-going would be unimaginable without the ever-present seaside restaurant-bars where friends and family settle in for a long day of chatting, drinking beer, and nibbling on portions of fried fish and seafood.

A dune buggy is parked on golden sand as waves roll in gently onto the shore.

Beaches North of Natal

Heading north from Natal—by bus or buggy—the beaches get increasingly wild and the dunes more impressive. The most famous draws are Genipabu, with its shifting dunes and dromedaries, and Pitangui and Jacumã, with their alluring freshwater lagoons.

The centro histórico neighborhood known more commonly as Praia Grande or Reviver. Photo © Mariana Costa, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

São Luís, the Island Capital of Maranhão

Maranhão’s island capital is bursting with cultural riches and has a flavor quite unlike any other of Brazil’s northeastern cities. São Luís is a seafood lover’s paradise with a colonial center recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Read on for accommodations, nightlife, and everything else you need to plan a visit.

A colonial building with a sign that reads Casa Historico de Alcantara.

Alcântara, Brazil: A Hauntingly Beautiful Colonial Town

Most people visit Alcântara as a day trip. Approaching Alcântara by boat is an experience in itself as you view its church domes, red tile roofs, and lithe imperial palms slowly emerge from a swathe of emerald jungle. Read more about visiting this colonial town in northeastern Brazil.

Courtyard view of stone buildings with clay tiled rooves.

What to See in Natal, Brazil

With a trio of modest museums and a historic district, there are a few sights worth the time when visiting Natal. The most impressive of the all-too-few vestiges of the past is the star-shaped Forte dos Reis Magos.