The coastal road south of Paraty wound over rocky headlands and through lush Atlantic Rainforest. After less than an hours drive we turned off to an even steeper and even more windy side road to the beach at Trinidade.
The Northern stretch of beach was scattered with huge granite boulders, so large that they had to build the road over one of them. There were loads of campsite but only one big enough for us just before the village but we were happy as it was right on the beach.
It is obviously a busy little place in high season but it had a relaxed feeling with small posadas and cafés catering to surfers and Brazilian visitors. The sky was grey and drizzly but with the temperature at a balmy 25°C it didn’t bother us at all. The girls were just thankful not to be smothered in sun cream like usual, when we went out to play on the beach. They loved scrambling up the huge boulders and jumping off onto the soft sand.
With the weather still overcast the following day, we took a hike south past two more absolutely stunning beaches and through the rainforest. The coves and offshore forested islands made the waters calm and picturesque. At low tide a natural swimming pool was formed by huge rocks, so after a sweaty rainforest climb we could cool down in the shallows.
Heading south once more, we’d hoped to find another little gem like Trinidade to camp up in. However as we got closer to São Paulo it became more developed. There were still gorgeous slivers of yellow sand between densely forested rocky headlands but these had smart gated communities wedged in front of them. We enjoyed the views but couldn’t find anywhere to park up for the night. As the terrain flattened out I eventually saw a sign for a green shady campsite just back from the beach. A long walk along the beach under the grey skies stretched our legs.
Last Christmas we had a fantastic time with my Mum and our family friend Else in a gorgeous hotel in Belize. This Christmas we are going to be in Argentina, hopefully with our overlanding friends Betti and John (www.burtway.com). Mum carried a whole stack of gifts around Central America before she finally met us. This time the girls are only getting physical gifts from us (and Santa of course). So now comes the dilemma of what to get them, we can only fit so much in the truck and anyway we trying to get away from the whole commercial Christmas thing. Steve and I were sorted present wise though the next day with a stop at Decathalon, a massive outdoor activity shop outside São Paulo. We found replacements for lots of things that have worn out over the last year and a half, perfect. Even Steve gets quite uncharacteristically enthusiastic about shopping when it is that easy.
Itanhaem, South of São Paulo has another lovely long beach but in the windy grey weather we enjoyed a long scoot along it, rather than a lounge in the sun that afternoon.
A long day’s drive south brought us to the peninsula of Porto Bello in the state of Santa Caterina. The beach resorts we passed through were built up with high rises, we could have been anywhere around the Med. At the far tip though a steep descent over the last hill brought us to a rocky cove. With just a campsite, bar and a small sandy beach, it was a perfect spot for a couple of nights. When the sun came out on Sunday afternoon, as we sat on the pristine beach after a busy morning of jobs it got even better. Brazilian schools break up in the next couple of weeks, so we are still in the low season but Retiro dos Padres is the first place we’ve seen quite a few campers. We have often been the only ones in campsites, although the size and facilities suggest they do get really busy once the season starts. We were back virtually on our own again on Sunday night though. It will be interesting to see if it is busy in Argentina over Christmas too.
The island of Santa Caterina is reached over a four lane bridge and as built up as any European resort. However, beyond the high rises on the far side of the island it is much quieter. We found a fabulous campsite in a pine forest in a national park, just a 500m walk through the woods from the beach. Such different scenery from what we’ve experienced in the rest of Brazil, we could have been in Canada if it weren’t for our fellow campers’ thong bikinis. We had a lovely couple of days enjoying the powdery soft white sands and freezing surf.
The 12 beaches that we’ve been to over the last few weeks have been unbelievable and very diverse. It’s been hard to chose but our favourite 3 have been Taipú do Fora: great snorkling in a wonderful natural coral pool, Trinidade: massive boulders on a windswept beach with a rainforest back drop and who could forget Ipanema in Rio: world class people watching. It’s been hard to leave the coast and head inland!