Rio’s Copacabana and the nearby Costa Verde (Green Coast) might take the prize for Brazil’s most famous beaches, but ask a local where to find the most idyllic sands and they’ll tell you to head north. Perched on the sun-soaked northeastern coast, Fortaleza makes an ideal base for exploring the beaches of North Brazil and there are ample opportunities for day trips up and down the coast.
Those staying in Fortaleza have a choice of four urban beaches – the bohemian party hub of Iracema, the family-friendly Meireles, the swim and surf hotspot of Praia do Futuro and Mucuripe, popular with snorkelers and fishermen. Alternatively, head north to the secluded sands of Cumbuco Beach where you can burn off those beachside ice creams by swimming, jet skiing, kite surfing or horse riding, or opt for a hair-raising beach buggy or ski-bunda ride. A little further up the coast, the tranquil waters of Lagoinha beach are perfect for sailing on a traditional Jangada, horseback riding or hiking through the palm-fringed dunes.
South of Fortaleza, Morro Branco offers a dramatic introduction to the Ceara coast, flanked by dramatic red sand dunes and hemmed in by a sprawl of rocky cliffs and fresh water lakes. Finally, nearby Canoa Quebrada is another popular haunt, renowned for its traditional beach huts and abundance of fresh seafood. Just don’t forget your sunscreen – temperatures can soar to a sweaty 88°F in the summer months.