On the one side Sao Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world, a megacity, with more than 12 million inhabitants. A never-ending city. On the other, a 400-kilometre-long coastline with long, wide beaches, but also hidden coves. Your holiday is here, and it's an invitation to wondrous places. Welcome to this corner of Brazil that, a bit like all this great country, offers strong yet at the same time fascinating contrasts, bringing together the many different souls of a world and its people. You have the pleasure of discovering its most splendid and seductive nature.
The south coast of Brazil is ready to welcome you to its nature and its sea, in unique places, from theIsland of Guaruja, the pearl of the Atlantic, as far as Ubatuba, located exactly where the Tropic of Capricorn lies, from the beautiful beaches of Santos, including the wonderful seafront garden of Gonzaga, up to fascinating locations like Praia Grande and Ilhabela, which, already contain beautiful holiday promises in their name, or surprising places such as Maresias, a paradise for those who surf or Caraguatatuba where you can dive into the sea or, why not, into the fresh water of the waterfalls.
Costa Cruises accompanies you to experience Brazil from the sea, taking you to places that are an invitation to discover, introducing you to the beaches around Sao Paulo in all their beauty, along with the still pure nature and a sea full of vitality with all its clear transparency.
Here is our selection of the must-see beaches around Sao Paulo:
- Island of Guarujá
- Gonzaga Beach
- Santos Beaches
- Ubatuba Beaches
- Praia Grande
- Ilhabela Beaches
- Praia de Maresias
- Caraguatatuba Beaches
Island of Guarujá
The island of Guaruja, also called the Pearl of the Atlantic, is the beach favoured by the Paulistani. After all, 80 km from Sao Paulo are nothing for the inhabitants of this megacity who can enjoy the beauty of the sea and the joy of entertainment on holidays, weekends, as often as they can. The island is connected to the mainland with a convenient bridge and is well served by transport. Costa takes you to discover Guaruja on a dedicated excursion, starting by coach from the jport of Santos. To make you live a day off to the paulistana, putting together sea, shopping and fun.
Here the relaxation of the beach is a cocktail of tradition and modernity, between the magic of the u unspoiled nature and the impressive modern buildings immediately close by. Speaking of cocktails, here also the caipirinha de coco is at home! After all, we are in Brazil, the country of great contrasts that always surprises and amazes with its always festive atmosphere and the cheerfulness of its people.
It will be fun to experience all the pleasure of shopping in the many shops and boutiques and in the beautiful shopping malls in the area, where you can buy saris, bikinis, or typical flip-flops... Just to get some inspiration on shopping. Not forgetting the possibility of eating some typical local dishes such as the San Paol cuscuz (i.e. a couscous of cornmeal and cassava) or the Pacoca dried meat (i.e. dried meat with cassava flour), but also a moqueqa de camarao (soup with shrimp), which although of Bahiana origin is always a Brazilian super delight.
The resort offers more than 35 km of incredibly white beaches that offer the opportunity to take a nice swim all year round. Pitangueiras is the central beach of Guarujà, and the busiest. But Guaruja is home to many beautiful beaches, such as Praia do Pernambuco, the most fashionable area of the island, where many VIPs have houses. Even Pelé, arguably the greatest futebol footballer of all time, chose this seaside resort as his home. Nature lovers find their favourite spot in Praia Branca: a dream bay in a protected reserve, easily accessible by walking along a path in the Mata Atlantica (the rainforest), where Beijaflores (hummingbirds) hover amidst the araucaria and the beautiful orchids.Praia do Tombo It is the ideal destination for surfers. In Praia Enseada, on the other hand, nightlife lovers can fulfil their desire for music and fun.
Gonzaga is an upscale neighbourhood of the city of Santos that overlooks Brazil's most important port bay with an amazing beach and beautiful promenade. The shoreline draws the shape of a crescent of sand. Gonzaga is famous because this is where it is the world's largest seaside garden. Many square kilometres of greenery and nature that have also entered the Guinness Book of Records, a place really full of charm, to visit and photograph. Only here can you experience this emotion. It is not just a simple place to travel through, with its cycling paths and skating lanes, but also a place of recreation and social life. The garden became a historical heritage in Santos in 2010. For many it is more than a garden, it is the most beautiful postcard in the city.
As always, Costa Cruises does not miss the opportunity to take you to the most extraordinary places in the world and allows you to discover this neighbourhood that is a concentration of the city of Santos first-hand. The beach offers great open spaces and all the amenities. Why not take advantage of it for a nice swim or to get a great Brazilian tan on the golden sand?
In Gonzaga, as well as relaxing by the sea, you can go shopping and also immerse yourself in the daily life of the locals, browsing the small shops and going on the historic trams (bonde). Interestingly, the origin of the neighbourhood, founded in 1889, is precisely linked to the tram, because Gonzaga was the name of the ancient bar founded by Luis Antonio Gonzaga. This stop was in fact a landmark for the trams that connected the beaches to the city centre.
But the tradition continues and the Bar do Gonzaga, open on the beach boulevard, attracts patrons from Brazil and from all over the world. The historic tram, is an attraction of Santos, a kind of "time machine" that crosses the most important streets of the centre between historic buildings and monuments.
One of the main attractions of the place are three shopping malls, and everything you could want in a great holiday spot, from ice cream parlours to restaurants. A separate mention must go to Praca da Independencia which is the heart of Gonzaga, in place of the neighbourhood where demonstrations, presentations and celebrations take place and that you can't miss for a photo opportunity.
On tour along the Santos coast, you can admire beautiful beaches lapped by the ocean, like Praia do José Menino and Praia Itararé, but also Ponta da Praia and Praia Aparecida, which are an extension of the famous Gonzaga beach. Definitely worth a visit is Sao Vicente, an ancient city in this part of the world, founded in 1532, which is considered the first Brazilian city in the modern sense: on its coast, near Santos, there are Praia do Gonzaguinha and Praia dos Milionarios, both overlooking the Baia de San Vicente.
A place of great interest is also the Biquinha de Anchieta, a source of fresh drinking water, dating back to 1553, which is located in the place where Father Anchieta, "O Apostolo do Brasil", the evangeliser and defender of the Indios of this land that that he usually baptised. Among his many merits is also to be considered the father of Brazilian literature, having written the first grammar of the Tupi language.
Santos is one of the oldest cities in Brazil. Founded in 1535, it is one of the first Portuguese settlements in the New World. The city developed in part towards the island of Sao Vicente, while the old town and the port, which develops into a canal, are facing the innermost part.
Costa takes you to discover the most diverse aspects of this city. Santos, just like a good coffee, is a place that will "awaken" your curiosity. The beaches, which are very popular especially in the summer, overlook the Baia de Santos, which in turn looks to the Atlantic Ocean. And behind the beaches is a whole city to experience.
Santos is the most important port in Latin America, for various goods, but in particular for coffee. Its grains, its origins, its trades, its world are celebrated in a museum well set up inside the ancient Bolsa de Café in a beautifully-decorated building. This exchange was created in 1922 to centralise coffee-related business operations, an important voice in the economy and culture of Brazil, the world's largest producer and exporter. Speaking of museums, in Santos there is even a museum dedicated to Pelé, "O'Rey", one of the greatest footballers of all time, perhaps the greatest, who played right in the ranks of the local futebol clube.
A short walk from Ponta da Praia, there is also another of Santos' attractions: theAquarium, where you can take an educational and exciting break from beach life. In its 50 tanks you can admire a wide variety of marine and Amazonian fish, as well as penguins and sea lions. The most beautiful tanks are those dedicated to the fauna of the oceans, which show various species of sharks, stingrays, turtles and a wide assortment of marine fish. The Amazon section offers well-cared for and highly attractive tubs where you can admire the unusual fresh water inhabitants such as pacu, pintado, tambaqui and tucunaré.
Ubatuba is a pretty town crossed by the line of the Tropic of Capricorn. This important "passage" is celebrated by a monument on site. For its particular location Ubatuba is therefore the first city in the whole of Brazil to be kissed by the rays of the sun on the day of the summer solstice.
In this special corner of the world, surrounded by a lush rainforest, you can have unforgettable experiences, thanks to nature and thanks to Costa excursions. You can learn more about life under the sea by visiting the site of Projeto TAMAR, a non-governmental organisation that protects sea turtles (it has already saved more than 5000), operating near the places where these animals breed. You can continue to satisfy your curiosity immediately afterwards at theUbatuba Aquarium, with its 12 saltwater tubs, including one of the largest in Brazil with as many as 80,000 litres, where specimens of local fauna and other oceans swim.
The area offers many waterfalls and trilhas, trails for various levels of trekking, which wind around the Mata Atlantica (i.e. the rainforest) and lead to the more hidden and wilder beaches. By boat you can reach Ilha Anchieta, one of the main tourist attractions in the area, surrounded by crystal clear blue waters, covered with a lush forest. A protected nature reserve has been established on the island, allowing magnificent birds and rare fish to be observed in their natural habitat.
The long inlet of Praia do Tenoriowith its comfortable golden sand overlooking emerald green vegetation is the perfect place to enjoy all the beauty of beach life, with sun and sea. Ideal for families with children.
Praia do Cedro is one of the most beautiful beaches, lapped by perfect crystal clear waters that invite you on an unforgettable snorkelling excursion to discover the underwater landscapes, with multicoloured fish, hedgehogs, starfish and a rich floating vegetation. You can also reach Praia do Cedro by schooner, on a tour that offers the opportunity to visit Praia do Alto on the same day, another small beach practically deserted and surrounded by vegetation, where you can bathe in calm blue waters.
On the lovely beach of Portinho, you can set out on a fun trip on a stand-up paddle, that is, a board similar to a surf board, on which you sail standing and using a special paddle. Guaranteed fun for young and old
Praia Grande is one of the most visited destinations on the coast of Sao Paulo, about 72 km from the megacity, where you can experience the excitement of your holiday in 100% Brazilian mode, surrounded by sea and nature. Praia Grande overlooks the sea, but behind it lies a river, the Piacabucu, which then flows into the Pequeno Sea. In this way, the eastern part of Praia Grande presents itself to us as a peninsula. Praia Grande offers several possibilities for leisure time, such as beaches, parks, historic tours, craft fairs, bars and restaurants. Not forgetting a beautiful riviera furnished with coconut palms, quiosques and cycling paths: in Praia Grande they have thought of everything.
The coast is more than 22 km long and is divided into 12 beaches, amongst them, in particular, Canto do Forte, one of the most popular and loved beaches, which is well cared for and equipped with all the comforts for spending a day at the seaside, well organised for you to enjoy every moment to the maximum. Even the beach of Guilhermina is one the most beautiful and typical, much appreciated by locals and visitors to the city, full of ideas and life, with many people and a good choice of kiosks.
One of the city's most classic places worth a visit is the Itaipu Fortress, a beautiful place, surrounded by nature, with many stories to tell about the formation and defence of the city. The fortress is located on a small coastal mountain, so its can enclose the southern coast of Santos Bay in its panorama. The residences of the officers are one of the reasons to recall the fortress that also housed the great footballer Pelé, who was a soldier here.
Praia Grande is home to an important place for nature conservation, Parco Estadual Xixova-Japu, established to protect an isolated area of well-preserved Atlantic forest on the Atlantic coast that spreads over an area of 901 hectares and which is divided between the municipalities of Praia Grande and Sao Vicente. The park is located on the seashore, isolated from the Serra do Mar, and protects biodiversity in a heavily urbanised area.
Visiting the island of Ilhabela means experiencing Brazil to the full. There are many tour possibilities to get to know Ilhabela with Costa and they are all fantastic experiences for discovering the wonders of nature and the magical atmosphere of the island.
You can start from the absolute relaxation to experience on the Praia do Curral beach, where you can dive into a beautiful crystal clear sea and then continues with the visit to the Casa da Princesa (Princess’ House) and an ancient 16th century church, until you reach the vantage point Mirante do Barreiro, with its breathtaking panorama before your eyes.
Of course, you can also make a classic tour with a visit to the old town, as far as the Agua Branca waterfall. At the Praia do Sino beach, you will be able to listen to the famous singing rocks, while at the Barreiro viewpoint, you can photograph the wonderful panorama. Or take a selfie.
Who is aiming for "fun and relaxation" mode can try it at the Golden Beach Club in Praia da Fome with the experience of the "Day Club", a new formula of fun and relaxation that mixes beach, music, gastronomy, luxury and pleasure in a unique environment. An appointment at the Sea Club begins with a delicious caipirinha for adults and a tasty soft drink for children. Those who wish can relax with a nice massage while children can play quietly in a dedicated area.
You can also experience Ilhabela in jeep and schooner. One group embarks on the schooner, another on the jeep. And each group, after the appointment at the beach of Jabaquara, changes means of transport. Thus, from the land and the sea, the beaches of Barreiros, Viana and Praia do Sino,the Ponta das Canas Lighthouse and the Barreiroviewpoint are all visited. On the return journey, those who arrived in the jeep return by sea with the schooner and vice versa, so that everyone expereinces the same adventure!
You can also get to Praia do Curral, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, and the Tres Tomboswaterfall by jeep, where you can dive into its waters. The highest waterfall is up to 20 metres high.
There is no shortage of opportunities to visit Ilhabela by bike, but you can also get to Curral beach in a dinghy or, for those wanting to visit waterfalls, the Toca Falls, located inside an old sugarcane farm, used to produce the Cachaca, are worth a visit.
Praia de Maresias
Surfing is at home in Brazil. This sport is often closely associated with the place where it is practised, one of which is Maresias. Located in the state of Sao Paulo, in the area of Sao Sebastiao, Praia de Maresias is in fact one of the most popular beaches with surfers. It is also interesting to note that the beach was discovered only in the 1970s by some enthusiasts of the legendary floating board while hunting for new beaches and new emotions. To the north of Guaruja they managed to find this wonder.
The resort town takes its name from the strong ocean breeze that blows here and that brings with it a multitude of large waves. At Maresias you can see, find and try waves of all heights and difficulties, both for novices and experts. Maresias has thus become a top surfing centre in Brazil, it often hosts competitions and championships. Maresias is one of the best beachbreaks in Brazil also thanks to the thickness of the sand which causes it to sink very clearly, thus facilitating the breaking of the waves with more energy near the shore. What more can you ask for?
This soft-sand beach, is not just a "surfer's paradise", it is highly appreciated for the environment around it, the nature that creates a wonderful landscape. At the time of its discovery, Maresias was surrounded only by the Mata Atlantica, the native jungle.
Today it has become the liveliest entertainment venue of the entire Paulist coast with plenty of choices. The neighbourhood near the beach attracts many visitors, especially young people, with a wide variety of restaurants and shops, along with a large number of nightclubs. That is why Maresias is the place for all those who want to have fun day and night.
It is a beautiful beach and a great base for exploring the rest of this territory. An area that is home to one of the largest surf communities in the whole country and where Maresias is a little like the capital, which is also flanked by the nearby beaches of Boicucanga, Camburizinho and Camburi. There are sports that are somehow destined to meet, because they have in common a bpard. One flies on the water, the other travels on wheels: skateboarding also has a very important space around Maresias with nine skateparks.
Caraguatatuba, affectionately called Caragua, is a beautiful seaside resort 170 kilometres from Sao Paulo. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Serra do Mar, and falls within the area of the "Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar" a protected natural area. The first settlement dates back to 1653 when Joao Blau, the feudatory of Countess Di Vimieiro, founded the village of Santo Antonio de Caraguatatuba. The name Caraguatatuba is a word of indigenous origin that means the "place of many Caraguata", which is a typical plant in the area.
Over the centuries, the town has welcomed many families of foreigners, in characteristic, very British brick houses, to the point that the Fazenda of Sao Sebastiao was called the Fazenda dos Ingleses, an economic reality that before tourism was one of the key factors for the town’s development in agriculture, crafts and trade, and of course in transport, with the railway direct to the port of Rio Juqueriquere, where ships took on board fruit, especially bananas for England.
Caraguatatuba is renowned for its many beaches, where bathers find everything that puts them at ease, sun, sea and the quiosques de bebidas and petiscos. Praia de Tabatinga, Praia da Mococa or Praia da Cocanha in front of the islets Ilha do Tamandua or Ilhote da Cocanha: just to read the names makes you want to go! In Praia do Porto Novo and Praia das Flexeiras, the sea is calm, almost without any waves or currents. They are close to the mouth of the Rio Juqueriquere, which forms a peninsula offering natural ecosystems of great ecological importance and landscape beauty, with a large amount of species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and plant species, including mangroves. Praia do Romance, further from the centre, is ideal for couples and families who love privacy and tranquillity. Praia das Palmeiras is a place where you can enjoy the sea and sand in the shade of the many trees scattered along the beach.
Those who love a more immersive experience in nature can immerse themselves in the Trilha do Jequitiba, an easy circular path through a dense forest where you can discover beautiful landscapes and the most diverse species of flora and fauna of the Atlantic forest. In the middle of the walk, you can cool off in the natural pool of Rio Santo Antonio. Even the Trilha do Pocao is a beautiful path, but more adventurous, between rivers and rapids, with a grand finale in the waterfall of Pedra Redonda at the end of the path.
The Hill of Santo Antonio Morro, whic is more than 300 metres high, is a privileged place to enjoy the spectacle of a beautiful view over the entire bay of Caraguatatuba, Sao Sebastiao and over much of Ilhabela.
Visit the beaches of San Paolo with Costa Cruises
Experiencing the beaches of Sao Paulo in Brazil on a Costa cruise is one of those experiences that can bring all your holiday desires together, with that right mix of sea, relaxation, nature and joy, that will make you return home regenerated, and with eyes full of beauty.