called Cidade do Sol, City of the Sun. I bet you already have a guess why, but I
am going to tell you anyway. The sun shines in Natal for more than 300
days a year. Even when it rains, the sun comes out right after the rain,
if not during it, always illuminating this wonderful place.
Natal is the capital
of the state of Rio Grande do Norte and one of Brazil’s oldest cities,
founded on December 25, 1599. Yes, Christmas Day. Natal means Christmas,
According to NASA, the
second purest air in the world is found in Natal. And talking about NASA,
the City of the Sun is home to the first rocket base in South America. It
was also an important military base during the Second World War, due to
its geographical position: the easternmost point in South America.
Blessed by nature, it
has a great variety of natural beauties such as lagoons, dunes, hills and
amazingly green ocean. It is a tropical Shangri-la and a top Brazil travel
destination for sports lovers.
That said, let’s get
down to business: the attractions.
enjoy the Dunes of Genipabu, you have to
a professional driver with a dune buggy. The area is protected, hence only
authorized drivers are allowed there. There are dozens of “bugueiros”
(buggy drivers) in Natal. Make sure you hire somebody credentialed and
licensed with the City. After that, it is only fun!
tour takes you to Lagoa de Pitangui (Pitangui Lagoon). It is a lagoon but
completely surrounded by sand. There is a restaurant where you can order
an appetizer and a drink while you sit at one to the tables in the water,
with your chair and hence your feet soaking in the water also. This really
is the “good” life! The water is wonderful!
that you go the Dunes of Genipabu. The bugueiro is going to ask you if you
want to see the dunes with emotion (com emocao) or without emotion (sem
emocao). With emotion you go fast, the buggy flies on the big dunes and it
is certainly fun if you don’t have small kids and aren’t afraid of speed.
Otherwise, go without emotion and enjoy the beautiful views at a slower
Genipabu, in the middle of all that sand, you can ride a dromedary. You
kind of feel that you are on the other side of the world since dromedaries
are not native to Brazil. But they sure go well with the landscape.
that there is the “esquibunda”.
“aerobunda” is the THING.
With your bugueiro
friend, by this time he is already your friend, you will also see Barra do
Rio, Jacuma, Pitangui and Muriu.
There are five beaches
in the city: Areia Preta, Praia dos Artistas, do Meio, do Forte and Ponta
Negra beach where the “action” is. This is the place to see and be seen.
is the “point” in Natal. There is an array of choices in bars, pousadas,
hotels and restaurants such as Barraca do Caranguejo (The Crab Place). If
you eat there, you can enjoy a very good folklore floor show for free. Ask
at your hotel desk about the shows schedule.
But besides all the
night action, Ponta Negra is a beautiful beach and one of Natal’s
postcards, Morro do Careca, is in Ponta Negra.
Shopping in Natal:
Handcraft in Natal is
beautiful and inexpensive. The best place to find a large variety is in
Centro de Turismo (Rua Aderbaldo Figueredo 980, Petropolis), which
used to be a prison. The stores are in the old cells and carry everything
from statues to bikinis. On the second floor, there is an art gallery with
old and contemporary pieces.
On Thursday evenings,
Centro de Turismo also hosts a dance “Forro com Turista”, which is
really fun. From there, you have a panoramic view of the city and of the
Rio Potengui. They also have a nice restaurant there, so if hunger
strikes, you are all set.
is a lot to see and do in Natal. As we always say, it’s all up to you. It
depends on your time and likes. Below is a list of the main attractions.
Check it out and off you go.
Forte dos Reis
Magos (Wise Man Fortress) – is an old fortress, one of the first built
by the Portuguese to protect they new land from invasion. It was founded
in 1599 and is part of Brazil’s Historical Heritage.
The Largest Cashew
Tree in the World – in Pirangi Beach. The roots of the tree are
unbelievably huge. All the Cashews are given to the visitors or donated to
local small business. After that go to…
Praia de Pitangui
(Pirangi Beach)– Beautiful palm trees frame this beach. They also have
a boat tour there. Check with the restaurants on the beach, for details.
Parque das Dunas
(Dunes Park) – the second largest urban Park in Brazil. Perfect for
hiking, it is a treat for adults and children. It has very good
infrastructure with an environmental education school, museums,
restaurants and leisure areas.
Maracajau – 60
km away from Natal, this beautiful beach has natural swimming pools with
stunning coral reefs 7 km off the beach. There is a boat service that will
take you there. They have a representative at the restaurants on the
beach, and that is where you pay for the tour and get your life vest,
snorkel, fins and mask.
They also have scuba
tanks to rent.
The restaurants have
good infrastructure with showers and an excellent meat and seafood menu,
like everywhere on the Rio Grande do Norte’s coast. Just to let you know,
in case you want to spend the day there.
And in case you don’t
want to drive, the local travel agencies in Natal offer tours to
Maracajau. Just ask at your hotel desk.
Praia da Pipa
(Pipa Beach) – 86 km away from Natal, Pipa will take your breath away.
Some years ago, it was just a small fishing village. But people discovered
this natural beauty and Pipa is growing into a charming beach resort.
João Pessoa 186 km, Recife 299 km, Fortaleza 538 km, Maceió 570, Salvador