Brazil is a country full of colour and vibrant beauty. However, a lot of travellers don’t venture too far from the tourist hubs of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Foz do Iguaçu. I was lucky enough to spend a few months living in this incredible country, and during my time there I discovered some wonderful hidden gems that should be on your bucket list right now.
Picinguaba is a tiny slice of tropical paradise in São Paulo state. If you’re a sucker for a stunning beach or you fancy a day trip to an almost untouched island, then Picinguaba might be for you. This little fishing village is only a short drive away from the better-known town of Paraty, but stepping into Picinguaba feels a world away from the more touristy spots nearby. Picinguaba is an idyllic spot, home to many local fishermen and families. The beaches in Picinguaba and on the surrounding islands are postcard-perfect, and the people are friendly and warm. Favourite activities here include snorkelling off Ilha das Couves and paddle boarding amidst the turtles that regularly surf the waves in the area. The village remains largely unaffected by tourism thanks to its location, where it sits tucked away behind cliffs, and this only adds to the relaxed atmosphere felt by all who come here.
This is another gem in São Paulo state, yet it often remains off the tourist radar. Located in the interior of the state, this town is known for its coffee and its adventure tourism.
The town itself doesn’t necessarily have a lot going on, but there are plenty of tours that leave from here for travellers seeking a bit of an adrenaline rush. In Brotas you’ll find activities from white water rafting to canyoning and everything in between, and it is known to be one of the best places in Brazil for adventure tourism.
Moving right up to the North-East of Brazil, the next spot on the list of hidden gems is Maragogi, a charming fishing village in the state of Alagoas. The lack of a mass influx of tourists means the village still feels very authentic, and it’s a lovely place to spend a couple of nights to recharge.
The nearby Praia de Antunes is worth a visit, too; it’s a beach where you can walk out to a group of natural rock pools at low tide to see starfish and tiny sea creatures in their natural habitat. There are some great local restaurants offering incredible home-cooked traditional food – check out Sabor Nordestino for a cheap but delicious feijoada for two.
Olinda is by far one of the most beautiful towns in the Northeast. It is steeped in history, and has retained many of the original buildings from the colonial period. This is such an important historical site that it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site! Despite this, it appears to often be overlooked by travellers in their hunt for a pretty beach, but this is definitely a mistake as it is a wonderful town with a lot to offer, especially for history buffs. In the Carnaval season this town takes on a life of its own, and is considered by some to be the best spot for Carnaval – yes, that’s right, even better than Rio!
A final beach spot to round off the list! Pipa is home to picture perfect beaches surrounded by cliffs, and it has the exact kind of chilled out vibe that so many travellers are always looking for. Life moves at a slower pace in Pipa, and that’s just how the locals like it. This is one of those places that you might end up never leaving, not just because of its beauty, but also because of the friendly people and their relaxed nature. It’s not uncommon to spot turtles and dolphins here, so it’s perfect for nature lovers, too.
Have we got you feeling excited to visit South America soon? You might want to check out Chile’s Lesser Known National Parks and our Off-the-Beaten-Path Road Trip Itinerary to Colombia’s Caribbean Coast!