Perfectly situated in between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro along São Paulo’s North Shore, Ubatuba is actually a collection of about 100 beaches. The area, which once belonged to the native Tupinambás, is known for its surf beaches and sea turtle habitats, and what makes it truly stunning is the surrounding lush rainforest and gorgeous mountain range that hugs the glimmering coastline.
It’s summer in the southern hemisphere and temperatures are wonderfully balmy, though it’s best to visit later in the season, preferably in late February or March, to avoid crowds. Ubatuba is a little out of the way to get to, but that’s what makes it an attractive alternative to Rio’s busier shores, plus, with so many beaches, swimming holes and outlying islands to choose from, there’s something in Ubatuba for every type of beach-goer.
What to do
Learn to surf at Praia do Pereque Açu – though the best waves are during winter, the swells here are consistent year-round, making it a great beach for beginner surfers. More experienced surfers can head to the relatively secluded and untamed Praia de Itamambuca which has a beautiful, winding shoreline. To change it up, trek inland to Prumirim Waterfall, which is relatively easy to find via a short trail. It’s absolutely majestic here, with a rainforest-shrouded swimming hole – grab onto a rope tied to a tree and make a grand splash! And for something educational, learn about sea turtle rescue and protection at Projeto Tamar Ubatuba where the aquariums house all sorts of sea turtles, including loggerhead turtles and green sea turtles.
The coast has some fantastic beaches, but for a real castaway experience, take a boat to one of Ubatuba’s many outlying islands. The clear waters around Ilha Anchieta teem with sardines, flying fish and sea turtles, which makes it a good spot for scuba diving. And in the jungle-covered Ilha das Couves, discover some secret pockets for snorkelling or hike its mountains for incredible aerial views of the island.
Where to stay
The Villa Sapê Pousada boasts an eco-chic design aesthetic that blends seamlessly with its lush, coconut-tree-fringed surroundings. Guestrooms come with white walls, wooden headboards and wood-plank ceilings and on the balconies are bamboo dividers – do ask for a room with a seafront view. The best part? That would definitely be the hotel’s marvellous infinity pool that looks out onto the lapping waters of Praia do Sape.
How to get there
The fastest way to reach Ubutaba is by taking a bus from São Paulo, which will take around five hours. Or, rent a car and drive there in under three hours.From London: British Airways flies direct from London to São Paulo in 11 hours and 45 minutes.
Brush up on your Portuguese: Praia is “beach” an ilha is “island”. With that in mind, there are so many well-hidden beaches in Ubatuba, one of them being the pint-sized Praia da Palmira. There is no trail leading to this beach, which means it’s trickier to find, but with pristine waters teeming with colourful fish, and best of all, no crowds, Praia da Palmira is worth the journey. Here, you can snorkel and stand-up paddle all day, and with some luck, spot a dolphin.