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West Coast of Ceará Travel Guide

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Known as the Costa do Sol Poente (Sunset Coast), the stretch of Ceará's coast that extends from Tabuba to the Piaui border ranges ffrom rarely visited beaches (such as Bitupitá) to one of the most popular beach destinations in the Northeast, Jericoacoara.

The beaches and villages along this coast have much in common, namely the hospitality they extend to visitors and the preservation of a cultural tradition, obviously connected to the sea.

The dunes and wind play an important role here as well: One example is what happened to Tataj uba, a village that the dunes literally swallowed up; its residents have since relocated to Nova Tatajuba. The best way to reach the west coast from Fortaleza is by the Estruturante highway.

Tabuba: seafront bars and natural pools are among the attractions on this beach, at the mouth of the Sapucai River.

Cumbuco and Lagoa do Banana: a favorite vacation destination for Fortalezans. Nearby attractions include Lagoa do Banana lake

Map of Ceará West Coast Brazil

Map of Ceará West Coast Brazil

PECÉM

Praia da Taiba: a large beach good for walking and cycling. Reefs protect the shoreline, popular with su rfe rs and sailing enthusiasts.

PARACURU

Munguba: a lively city beach where local fishermen build fish traps.

Ronco do Mar: surfers and young people favor this hots pot, also known as Praia da Igreja Velha.

Pedra Rachada: coconut palms and natural pools adorn this small cove.

Praia da Bica: visitors often stop over from neighboring beaches for the freshwater springs on this beach, which is also an anchor site for boats.

Lagoinha: a beautiful cove featuring red dunes bursting with coconut palms. Crowds abound during peak season and on weekends.

TRAIRI

Embuaca: a fishing village with wattle and daub buildings beside its dunes and coconut palms. The sea draws its dark shade from the waters of the Mundau River.

Guajiru: a quiet beach framed by coconut groves, with calm seas and natural pools.

Flecheiras: a wide strip of compacted sand, ideal for swimming.

Mundaú: the nearby Mundaú River lends darkness to the seawater off this beach.

JERICOACOARA

A national park since 1992, locals consider thi s one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. Dunes surround the bay, setting the scene for a great windsurfing spot.

Malhada: to the right of Jericoacoara village lies this beach, frequented almost exclu sively by tourists en route to Pedra Furada.

Mangue Seco: though dunes now occupy these grounds, formerly an old mangrove swamp, tree trunks still occasionally pot rude from the sand. Frequented by residents of the Mangue Seco village.

Almofala: tremembé Indians inhabit this area. Highlights include the 18th century Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceiҫão de Almofala.

Praia do Preá: a great walking beach, also popular with wind- and kitesurfers. Tourist facil ities have begun to develop.

Praia do Guriú: this picturesque scene comprises a river, fishing village, jangada port, coconut palms, mangrove, sailing canoes, and ferry boats. Locals from the nearby Guriú village relax here.

CAMOCIM

Maceió: gentle waves and shifting dunes nestle this beach, which features kiosks and two lakes, Cangalha and Boqueirão

Nova Tatajuba: a small, sleepy village with white-sand beaches, coconut palms, and dunes tha t can soar to heights of 50 meters (165 feet). Natural pools form among the dunes during the rainy season.

BITUPITÁ

Around this fishing community, you'll find fish traps, strong waves, and a wide strip of sand.

CUMBUCO

Located 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Fortaleza, Cumbuco is an ideal spot to spend a day outside the capital.

Activities range from a relaxing sailing trip to a thrilling dune-buggy ride. 

DUNE-BUGGY TRIPS

When it comes to choosing a dune buggy tour, the question is: "With or without the thrills?" If your answer is the former, the driver will be more daring and travel at greater speeds.

The standard trip lasts an hour, with stops at Lagoa do Parnamirim, Parque das Dunas, and Morro da Barriga hill. Alternatively, a 2 hour trip stops at Lagoa do Banana, where you can test jet-skis, banana boats, and motorboats or attempt water-skiing. Barra do Cauípe is worth a stop just to try murici, a regional fruit.

 

 SAILING-RAFT TRIPS

From Cumbuco, life-vest-equipped jangadas take up to six visitors out to sea for about 30 minutes.

JERICOACOARA

Once a little-known fishing village, Jericoacoara is now famous for its beach, considered by many one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, and the village is now frequented by tourists from all over the world.

Nonetheless, Jeri (as it is known by locals and tourists alike) is still relatively isolated - only jeeps and dune buggies manage to cross the dunes that surround it, and its dirt streets have no public lighting.

Visitors can eat in sophisticated restaurants, however, and guides and agencies offer every imaginable kind of trip. Give yourself at least four days to fully enjoy everything th e area has to offer.

With its calm waters and strong winds, Jeri is a perfect destination for windsurfing and kite-surfing enthusiasts. The beach's long strip of compact sand is good for walking or playing soccer. In 2002, the village and surroundings were declared a national park - there are no restrictions on visits, but the environmental protection laws are rigorous.

From Jijoca de Jericoacoara, Jericoacoara is accessed by taking the CE-085 highway 280 kilometers (174 miles) west from Fortaleza, and 23 kilometers (14 miles) along a dirt road north from Jijoca to Jericoacoara beach. The trip is best made by dune buggy, truck, or jardineira (modified pick-up truck), as the road is sandy and fuU of pot holes.

PEDRA FURADA

A half hour's walk along Jericoacoara beach will bring you to Pedra Furada (Rock Hole), one of Jericoacoara's loveliest locations. A rock lying across the beach has a large hole in its center that resembles a sculpted gateway.

Along the way, the calm waters of Praia Malhada beach are an excellent place to pause for a dive. Head to Pedra Furada at low tide; at high tide you're forced to climb the steep dunes.

It is also possible to reach the rock by dune buggy. The tours, which depart from the visitors' pousada or hotel, include a stop at Lagoa da Jijoca lake. 

DUNE-BUGGY TRIPS

The Associaҫão de Bugueiros do Ceará offers two dune-buggy trips around Jericoacoara. The first travels 12 kilometers (7 miles) east along the coast and includes Praia do Preá beach and several miles of dunes.

The other trip runs 20 kilometers (12 miles) west and includes the Mangue Seco, Tatajuba Nova, and Guriú beaches, as well as the villages of Tatajuba Nova and Tatajuba Velha - the latter village was abandoned tweenty years ago and is slowly succumbing to advancing dunes.

Both villages belong to the municipality of Camocim. Each trip is approximately five hours long.

POR-DO-SOL DUNE

Every evening, visitors and locals alike climb 40 meters (130 feet) up what is known as the por-do-sol dune to watch the sunset (por-do-sol). In a brilliant display of violet, red, yellow and orange, the sun sinks till it's a giant ball hovering over the sea. As it disappears beyond the horizon, the dunes turn yellow, gold, and finally, brown.

The most enthusiastic spectators applaud, and the most adventurous slide down the dune. During the high season (Dec to Feb), it's often possible to catch a capoeira show on the dune. 

FORRÓ DO RAIMUNDO

Forró do Raimundo, a Jericoacoara tradition, began 25 years ago when passerby spontaneously began to dance the Forró when they heard Mr. Raimundo playing vinyl records in the annex of his family’s store.

It became so famous that the street it is on has been renamed Rua do Forró. Today, Forró do Raimundo has moved from the sidewalks to a covered dance space with a large, wellwaxed dance floor. Dancers quench their thirst at the Bar do Forró bar. Rua do Forró.

JIJOCA DE JERlCOACOARA

The municipal center of Jijoca de Jericoacoara, which is the name for this whole district, is 23 kilometers (14 miles) from Jericoacoara village and its beach. Among the center's attractions are Lagoa Azul and Lagoa do Paraiso, lakes that have become popular with windsurfers thanks to their reliable breezes.

The green waters of both lakes are good for free-diving and sailing, and provide lovely, picturesque contrast to the dunes. For visitors who are planning to simply take in the landscape, the best time of year to visit is during the rainy season (March, April, and May), when the water levels are higher. Windsurfing is best July through November, when the winds are stron gest. Equipment with engines is forbidden on both lakes.

ALMOFALA

The tiny beach community of Almofala, nestled between the Aracati-Mirim and Aracati-Aҫu Rivers, guards a treasure: the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceiҫão de Almofala (Praҫa Principal).

The church was built in 1712 on land belonging to the Tremembé Indians. By 1897, the structure was completely buried by dunes. Over 40 years later, the wind uncovered the church, revealing its lovely baroque lines.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceiҫão de Almofala has been protected by lphan since 1980. During the first week of August locals celebrate the Feast of the Assumption in the church square, and in the first week of December they hold the festivities to honor Nossa Senhora da Conceiҫão (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception).

To reach Almofala, which is 12 kilometers (7 miles) northeast of Itarema, take the BR-102 highway northeast to the CE-434 state highway.

CAMOCIM

Camocim sits at the confluence of the Coreaú River and the sea and has 60 kilometers (37 miles) of beaches. In the town center are hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, and bars. The landscape is dominated by the river beaches and hundreds of canoes and other boats on the water.

Camocim lies 380 kilometers (236 miles) west of Fortaleza (via BR-085, a highway in good condition) and 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Jericoacoara, following dirt roads. Alternatively, from Jericoacoara, you can drive more directly, if you go by dune buggy; it's 75 kilometers (47 miles) across the beaches. Camocim can also be reached via Sobral, a historic city 145 kilometers (90 miles) to the south, by driving north on the CE-362 highway. 

DUNE-BUGGY TRIPS
 
The most enchanting day trip from Camocim is a dune-buggy tour highlighting the area's natural beauty.
 
Buggies first cross the river by ferry boat (a five-minute ride), arriving on Ilha do Amor, an island with a beach of the same name. The beach is nothing more than a long, straight stretch of compacted sand. The trip becomes more interesting as the dune buggy passes through mangrove forest near Praia de Moréia, where mangroves encircle dunes and lakes.

The tour stops at Duna do Funil, a series of enormous dunes next to lovely Lagoa Verde lake. From there, the buggies continue on to Tatajuba beach, Duna Encantada dune, and Lagoa da Torta, where you can swim and enjoy a snack from anyone of a number of lunch kiosks.

Visitors can choose to remain at Duna Encantada for the sunset or extend their trip to Guriú village, on the bank of the Guriú River. The mouth of the river is one of the most famous landscapes in Jericoacoara (although technically it is in Camocim). The scenery is dazzling, and alternating stretches of sand and water create warm fresh and saltwater pools. Anyone who wishes to extend his or her trip can take the ferryboat from Guriú to Jijoca de Jericoacoara.

BITUPITÁ

Bitupitá (pop. 6,000) sits on the border between Ceara and Piauí. The village is best visited on a day trip as tourist facilities are not available. Most residents live off the ocean, placing fish traps made from tree trunks covered by nets at a depth of about 8 meters (26 feet). Fish enter the tree- and-net labyrinth and are unable to find their way out again.

At low tide, the fishermen haul their catch, fill their canoes, and head for the beach, where they sell their day's work. There are approximately ten traps near the shore at Praia de Bitupitá; others are placed about 10 kilometers (6 miles) off the coast.

Visitors can watch the fishermen work while enjoying fresh, fried fish from beach kiosks.

To get to Bitupitá from Camocim, which is 40 kilometers (25 miles) to its east, take the BR-402 to Barroquinha. From there, a nameless but signposted dirt road, which should only be undertaken in a 4X4, leads 35 kilometers (22 miles) north to Bitupitá.

NOVA TATAJUBA

Nova Tatajuba is a small fishing village 32 kilometers (20 miles) west of Jericoacoa ra, in the municipality of Camocim.

It was built in the 1980s, after the old village - Velha Tatajuba - was swallowed by dunes; the result of a slow, relentless process that began in the 1960s and ended when the last resident was forced out. Today you can see only the roofs of old Tatajuba's taller buildings and the chapel.

Newer though it is, (here is no electricity in Nova Tatajuba, the houses are wattle and daub, and the only vehicles on the narrow streets are the dune buggies that bring tourists from Jericoacoara and Camocim.

The landscape is a simple tableau of coconut palms, pale sands, and high dunes. The most beautiful dune is Duna Encantada, which stands over 30 meters (100 feet) tall and is used as a landmark by fishermen returning from sea.

Legend has it that there is an old ship buried beneath the dune's sands, and that the voices of the crew can still be heard in the still of night. Daytime dune-climbers will be rewarded, as well; Duna Encantada offers one of the most beautiful views in the entire region.

West Coast of Ceará travel guide and tourism information such as accommodation, festivals, transport, maps, activities and attractions in Ceará, Brazil - Brazil Travel Guide

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