For some time now, international travel writers have been raving about Jericoacoara. Hence, you’ll understand the presence of so many global beach worshippers, despite the remoteness (320 kilometers/200 miles west of Fortaleza ) of this rustic little fishing village. Of course, when you finally get to “Jeri,” you’ll also understand that it deserves such worship. However, the biggest mistake these travel writers make is calling Jeri a “beach.” It’s actually much more.
Jericoacoara is what you get when a desertscape of constantly shifting dunes—some of them over 30 meters (100 feet) high—collides with the majesty of the open sea. Wandering or buggying through these dunes is mesmerizing. Depending on the hour of the day, the sun tints them burnished gold, searing yellow, deep orange, and purply pink.
Moreover, you can never be quite sure if the ocean is swallowing up the desert or vice versa. Aside from all this natural drama, there is also an idyllic tropical beach involved. A 30-minute Jeep ride away from the village of Jeri is the Lagoa de Jijoca, a turquoise lagoon surrounded by creamy white sand that adheres perfectly to the ideal of the classic tropical beach championed by travel writers.
Jericoacoara is a popular package tour destination. However, its distance—a seven-hour bus trip from Fortaleza to the village of Jijoca, followed by an hour truck or buggy ride (23 kilometers/14 miles) through the dunes—has left it happily free of the tourist hordes that descend upon Ceará ’s other beaches. Trappings of civilization—such as electricity, Internet, and sushi—have arrived. So have many foreigners who, unable to face going back to civilization, have remained and opened up charming yet simple pousadas and restaurants. Happily, these new transplants are respectful of the unspoiled nature that reigns.
Moreover, the Brazilian government’s designation of Jeri as an environmentally protected zone has strictly regulated development and enforced recycling. Nonetheless, Jeri does get booked up in the summer. Should you want to experience the full effect of its seclusion, you’d be advised to visit during the off-season (Aug.–Nov. and Mar.–June).
There are two main options for getting to Jeri. The easiest, cheapest, and most common way is to take a bus from Fortaleza’s rodoviária. Redenção (tel. 85/3256-2728, www.redencaoonline.com ) has two daily buses that will take you all the way to Jijoca (a six-hour ride). The bus picks up passengers at both the central and long-distance rodoviárias as well as Avenida Beira Mar. Known as Jeri’s parking lot, Jijoca is where people stash their cars before boarding the jardineiras that run back and forth across the dunes between Jijoca and Jeri (a breathtaking but bumpy 40-minute ride).
You can also drive to Jeri via the CE-085, but you’ll have to leave your car in Jijoca. A longer, more expensive, but unforgettably scenic alternative is to travel up the coast by Jeep, hitting all the beaches between Fortaleza  and Jeri, which could take a day or even more.
Adventure tour operators in the Fortaleza  such as Trip da Areia (tel. 88/3421-7041, www.tripdaareia.com.br ) and Dunnas Expedições (tel. 85/3264-2514, www.dunna.com.br ) specialize in such trips.