When people think of Brasil, they usually have visions of the Christ the Redeemer statue, Copacabana beach, football(soccer), the Brazilian Bikini, and Carnival. Yes, these things are all very famous in Brasil, but there is much more to see in this massive country.
I took a trip up to the North East coast of Brasil this year and discovered a lot of beautiful places to visit. Including one of South America’s hidden gems, Jericoacoara beach. Within 20 minutes of walking along this beach during sunset, I could understand why this place is such a big tourist destination.
The beaches along Jericoacoara seem to be endless, the water is a crystal clear torques color and when you go in it feels like your in a warm bath, and the coastline has massive white sand dunes towering above the beaches. The town and the beach areas remind me of some island towns in Thailand, and they also resemble the Boracay beaches in The Philippines. But the big differences are that Jericoacoara ( Or Jeri according to the locals), has the big sand dunes along the beach, no street lights, and three main roads are all made of beach sand. It’s just a very cool place visit.
Jericoacoara used to be a small fishing village that slowly evolved into the tourist mecca that it is today. The area around Jeri became a national park in 2002. There is no park entrance fee.
There are dozens of guesthouses, hotels, and hostels in Jeri. Prices range from 20-25USD for a dorm bed in a hostel and up to $500USD for a 4-star hotel. The hostel that I stayed at was called Central Jeri Hostel. ($22USD). This hostel had a good atmosphere, was in great location, and the rooms had A/C.
Jeri has a great selection of good restaurants. Most of them are a bit overpriced, but the quality seems to be good all around. The majority of restaurants are on the three most important streets, and the variety is plentiful. You can get Thai food, pizza, crepes, gelato, Açai, Japanese food, American Style Burgers and much more.
Most hotels and restaurants take credit card but please note, Jeri has no ATM’s! The nearest ATM is a 45-minute 4X4 drive away to the small city of Jerico. And I’m told that the ATM in that town does not like foreign ATM cards very much.
Your best option is to stock up on cash in Fortaleza or where ever you have access to an ATM before you arrive. Otherwise, the next best option is to withdraw money from one of the grocery stores or your hotel or hostel but, unfortunately, they will charge you a whopping 10%.
What To Do Around Jeri
The easiest way to see all the beaches and the main tourist attractions would be to arrange a dune buggy day tour. There are two different tours to do. One goes to places east of Jeri, and the other goes to places along the west side of Jeri. Each tour cost around 25USD, or less if you shop around. You can usually arrange the tours with your accommodation. Each tour takes a full day and stops in several places including some beaches, and sometimes places for snorkeling. I was tired of doing tours, so I decided to see some of the sites on my own. (details to follow)
The bay along Jeri is perfect for wind water sports like Kiteboarding, windsurfing, and surfing. There are a lot of different businesses offering lessons for the various wind water sports. Some are accredited, and some are not, so shop around or ask fellow backpackers for recommendations. Most hostels can recommend a good instructor for whichever sport you want to learn.
Horse Back riding
There are a few agencies that offer horseback riding tours along the sand dunes. Although horseback riding is not my thing, it looks like a cool activity to do. The tours usually end with a stunning view of the sunset. The approximate cost is $10USD an hour.
Some companies offer quad bike tours within the dunes. The cost is around $100 USD.
The beaches in Jeri are fantastic. The sand is soft, and you can walk for miles along the beach if the tide is out. But please note that there is a parisite that lives in the sand that can burrow itself into the bottom of your foot. I met a backpacker who stayed in Jeri for a month who was taking Kitesurfing lessons. She had one of these worms in her foot. She said that it was very painful to remove. The best solution is to wear flip flops when you are on the beach.
Stuff I Did For Free
Instead of taking a buggy tour I did a few things on my own. I enjoy walking along the beach, so these activities were better choices for me.
“Duna Por Do Sol” Sunset Dune
Climbing the Duna Por Do Sol for sunset is a very nice way to end the day. The dune is 5 minutes walk from the main entrance of the beach. It will be very easy to find. When you go out to the main beach, just look to the left, and you will see hundreds of people up on the dune.
Pedra Furada is a famous rock formation near Jeri. I walked to this place with a group of friends from the hostel, in the late afternoon. It takes 45 minutes to an hour. It is very nice to do around sunset. Depending on the tide schedule you can walk along the beach to get there or take the scenic trail from higher ground. We were lucky to be able to walk along the beach on the way back to enjoy the sunset.
Lagoa Do Paráiso (Paradise Beach)
When travel agencies have posters of Jericoacoara on their walls, it’s usually a picture of Paradise Beach. The water is clear, turquoise, and luke warm. Paradise Beach is around a lagoon and is 30 minutes away from Jeri. You can visit here with one of the buggy tours, or you can take the public buggy transport for $10USD return. I visited this place for free. If you get a transfer from Jeri to Fortaleza, most transport companies will stop here for 2 hours.
How To Get There
Jericoacoara is located approximately 300km west of Fortaleza. Some companies do transfers between Jeri and Fortaleza daily with air-conditioned vans. The cost is around 30USD, and it usually takes 5-6 hours including a 2 hour stop at Paradise Beach. Your accommodation receptionist can usually arrange the transfer for you, and arrange that you’re picked up at your hotel or hostel.
Regardless of how you get to Jeri, you will be put in a 4X4 for the last 45 minutes of the journey. The road into Jeri has been carved between the sand dunes, and only certain types of vehicles are permitted to drive on these roads. It’s a bit of a bumpy ride, but it is also very scenic.
Most people fly to Fortaleza and then take the transfer to Jeri from the airport. I flew São Luis because I found a great deal on a flight, and I also wanted to visit Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. São Luis is 400km north of Jeri.
If you have any questions on Jeri or how to get to there, feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.