The Brazilian town that surprised me the most by its beauty was Paraty. Having gone to Paraty with no prior information other than that it was beautiful, I was shocked by how gorgeous it really was.
Paraty is a town with colonial houses, cobblestone roads, gorgeous beaches, and surrounded by islands. The coast between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, is full of islands of all sizes. If you can, rent a car or motorcycle to explore the beauty of the coast! If you don’t drive (like me), you can get there from Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo by bus.
There’s no fast way to get to Paraty by public transportation, but that wasn’t a problem because the route of so beautiful.. By bus from Rio de Janeiro, you can take the Costa Verde bus company and it takes 4 and a half hours to get there ($R63 at current time). I insist that you make this trip during the day, and pick a seat on the left side window, because the view is PHENOMENAL! The reason it takes so long is because it goes along the coast, stopping at all the cities. It is also the bus that takes you to Angra dos Reis, where you can take a boat to Ilha Grande, another popular tourist destination. From Sao Paulo to Paraty, the trip takes 5-6 hours, with the Reunidas company ($R54), and remember to pick a seat with a view of the coast. When you buy a bus ticket in Brazil, they show you the screen of all the available seats, where you can then give the bus person the number of the seat you want.
I highly recommend taking a boat trip to the islands. It is typically around 6 hours and you visit 4 islands. It costs $R30 for the boat tickets to go in a group, or you can also charter your own boat. You can find the boats at the Paraty pier. I went by myself on the boat trip, and met some fantastic folks on the ride… time went by very quickly! The boat tickets itself is really cheap. They sell food and alcohol on the boat too, which is suspect is how they make all their money. I spent $R57 on food and capirinhas on the boat… Oh well, I guess their strategy is that when you’re happy and feeling good, you will open your wallets!
The next day, I went kayaking in the bay. I’ve always loved kayaking, and the calm waters of the ocean makes it a perfect place to do that. I rented a kayak for 2 hours, which was enough for me to kayak to an island, along the coast a little bit, and lie in the sun. Remember your sunscreen 🙂
I was only there for 2 days, so I did not have time to do everything. I had heard that the Vermelha Beach (a bus ride away from Paraty) and the Cachoeira Toboga (waterfalls a bus ride away) are also fantastic.
I stayed at the Paraty Beach Hostel while there, and I enjoyed it. It’s right by the beach, has big rooms, and you can even eat breakfast on the beach. It’s not in the historic center, but a 5-minute walk from it crossing a bridge, and they say that Paraty is 100% safe to walk around.
One thing that was interesting about Paraty was all the Argentinians working or visiting the city. (Same with Buzios, and Florianopolis, the coastal cities that I’ve been to). I had thought it was due to the World Cup going on at the same time, but apparently I was told that this is true all year round. I suppose that with the economic situation Argentina is in + the fact that there are no beautiful beaches in Argentina, makes the free spirited and beach-loving Argentinians come to Brazil to work and travel.
Summary: Paraty – Highly Recommended!! Go there 🙂