Rio’s Copacabana and the nearby Green Coast (Costa Verde) might take the prize for Brazil’s most famous beaches, but ask a local where to find the best sands and they’ll point north. Fortaleza, perched on Brazil’s sun-soaked northeastern coast, makes an ideal base for exploring the beaches of North Brazil. Here are our top picks.
One of Fortaleza’s four urban beaches, Iracema (Praia de Iracema) is the closest one to downtown. It’s not the best spot for swimming, but the sandy shores are ideal for sunbathing, jogging, and beach games. Iracema is also the center of Fortaleza’s nightlife scene, and the beachside bars and nightclubs spring into action after sunset.
Next door to Iracema, the family-friendly Meireles Beach (Praia do Meireles) is known for its lively seafront promenade lined with restaurants, bars, and cafés. For a scenic walk, follow the promenade all the way to Mucuripe Beach (Praia do Mucuripe) to watch the fishing boats and sample fresh-from-the-boat seafood.
Praia do Futuro
Praia do Futuro is Fortaleza’s best swimming beach and a hotspot for surfers, with some sizeable waves. Alternatively, just to the south, in Porto das Dunas, is the gigantic Beach Park—the largest water park in Latin America.
A short detour north of the city, the secluded sands of Cumbuco Beach (Praia de Cumbuco) are a great choice for outdoor activities. Dive in to swim in the Parnamirim pond, try water sports like jet-skiing and kitesurfing, enjoy horseback riding along the beach, or get your adrenaline pumping on a beach buggy or ski-bunda (sand surf down a dune into the water) ride.
A little farther up the coast, Lagoinha Beach (Praia da Lagoinha) is one of the most popular beaches in Paraipaba. Flanked by towering red dunes and coconut palms, the tranquil waters are perfect for sailing on a traditional Jangada, while horseback rides and dune buggy tours are also available.
On the east coast of Ceará, about a 2.5-hour drive from Fortaleza, Canoa Quebrada is one of the region’s most idyllic beach getaways. An expanse of golden sands fronts the traditional fishing village, but the biggest draw are the pristine dunes that tower over the beach and offer a spectacular backdrop for a dune buggy tour.