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Paraty is a charming little town in the southern tip of the Rio de Janeiro state. Once a thriving gold port, it is now a popular artist refuge and tourist hotspot, with its Portuguese colonial architect and outstanding natural wonders undoubtedly its key appeals. The region is rich in activities and attractions; be sure to check out these top ten things to do during your stay there.
A visit to the historical center of Paraty is a must and makes up an important part of the town’s charm and heritage. The Portuguese legacy is etched into the buildings’ architect that preserves the distinct colonial design of white houses with brightly colored door and window frames, and the cobbled streets that connect them. Be sure to spend some time absorbing the sights in the Matriz Square and take a stroll over to the Santa Rita church and its surrounding houses.
This little beach offers splendid views across the bay and is a good spot for a family day out, especially with young kids as the water is calm, clean and shallow. It is also a good place to learn stand-up surf paddling, as the smooth waters grant an opportunity to get your balance right on the board. Check out the restaurant Corumbeer which has a natural swimming pool on the beach which is perfect for children, or go to Cheiro de Camarão, which serves wonderful seafood.
To access the mangroves, you need to cross Jabaquara beach and the only way to do that is by sea, which adds an extra element of adventure to the expedition. The best and most fun way of doing that is by hiring a kayak and rowing over, which gives the chance of getting right up close to the mangroves. Continue through the mangroves until you reach the outstanding Saquinho do Corumbê, which is a small sea bay with crystal-clear waters.
A boat trip to some of the nearby natural wonders is one of the best activities that Paraty has to offer. The boat tours usually leave the port at 11 a.m. and come back four hours later. It offers the chance to see some of the region’s most beautiful beaches and coves, such as beach Praia da Lula, Praia Vermelha and Praia de Santa Rita. The boats come equipped with snorkeling gear to check out the local marine life, food and drinks, including caipirinhas.
The beach of Cão Morto luckily bares no link or resemblance to its unfortunate name which means dead dog in English. The beach itself is stunning with a crescent of soft sand, pristine waters that gently slope back in the shallows for meters and a fringe of dense, rich Atlantic forest stretching out for miles behind the sand. The immense surrounding green gives the impression of a salty lake rather than the sea.
Saco do Mamanguá is one of Paraty’s most remarkable natural wonders, yet remains hidden from the regular tourist spots. It is like a fjord with a corridor of sea that runs between a series of stunning green peaks. There are also beautiful beaches, mangroves and spellbinding hikes in the surrounding area.
Paraty is famous for its locally-made cachaça and this fact is celebrated at the Festival da Pinga, usually held in August. The local distilleries are worth a visit to sample some high-quality cachaça and bring back some bottles as souvenirs. It is possible to hire a jeep tour to the distilleries which also serve to provide a wealth of fascinating information from the local guides.
Praia Grande is a main hub for fishermen and boats, with a heaving local fish market that trades the freshest catches of the day. From Praia Grande, take the short hike over to Prainha which is the village of the local fishermen and has several unpretentious bars that serve some of the freshest and most delicious seafood in Paraty. Another possibility is to take a boat from Praia Grande to the island, Ilha do Araújo. Here there are small bars, dense forest and secluded beaches waiting to be explored.
Take a tour to the nearby waterfalls which sit in the heart of the surrounding Atlantic jungle. The most popular waterfalls to see are Tarzan, Tobogã, Poços do Penha and Poço das Andorinhas, all which offer stunning visuals and wonderful swimming opportunities under the exotic canopies of the dense jungle. You can take a jeep tour to these waterfalls or hire a bike and cycle there.
Graúna is a mountainous region just outside Paraty with gorgeous landscapes sprinkled with waterfalls and rural villages. Head over to Le Gite D’Indaiatiba, a bed and breakfast in the heart of the forest that has a restaurant open to the public that serves authentic, delicious French food. Be sure to explore the trails and hikes nearby, and keep a look out for the remarkable local wildlife.