Travel advice on the beautiful beaches of the remote Costa Branca, a real highlight on Brazil’s Northern coast between Fortaleza and Natal.
Visited: 24 -26 May 2008
In Brazil’s Rio Grande do Norte state, the coastline from Areia Branca and to the East is known as the Costa Branca.
The Costa Branca is a beautiful, undeveloped region of Brazil, where the beaches stretch for miles within various huge bays that are often backed by equally huge, stunning sand dunes. The landscape is dramatic - described by the Footprint Brazil travel guide as ‘biblical’, though I’m not too sure what that is meant to mean having just visited…
Access to the Costa Branca is via the large city of Mossoro, from where it’s about 45 minutes drive to Areia Branca.
Areia Branca is a large town with a few pousadas. A tiny beach side suburb makes a better base to stay than in the town itself. As you drive out of town, take the road first on the left across the man made lakes to gain access to this pretty, laid back little hamlet. Tombo do Mar is a simple beach front pousada in this part of Areia Branca, whilst Costa Atlantica hotel is a larger alternative, though it’s a rather tacky hotel. The sea is at it’s clearest here, in part because the beach has rock shelves in most places.
More dramatic scenery is found further East along the Costa Branca - drive for 20 minutes along the paved road to Ponta do Mel, the best village for exploring Brazil’s Costa Branca. In Ponta do Mel is the lovely, upmarket Costa Branca Eco-Resort, which consists of 9 cabanas and a swimming pool and restaurant, all with stunning views of the bay and it’s monstrous sand dunes. The Costa Branca Eco-Resort has a very stunning setting and is by far the best hotel for miles in either direction along the coastline. Other hotels in Ponta do Mel include Pousada Teodoro, which is unattractive, tacky and extremely overpriced at R$110 a night, and the beautifully set (on the far edge of town) Beiral Pousada, which is good value at R$ 50 a night, though it’s restaurant did give me a very dodgy stomach. Having said that, the food was great, and my girlfriend didn’t have any stomach problems.
There’s a scattering of other beautifully set fishing villages on the coast between Areia Branca and Ponta do Mel, though none seem to have any pousadas or accommodation options. It’s best to explore these lovely little seaside villages by hire car from Ponta do Mel (or Arreia Branca) - just follow the dirts tracks heading towards the coast. A 4 wheel drive isn’t really necessary as the roads are decent. The most beautiful village we found was Sao Cristovao, which is stunningly located in a huge bay backed sand dunes - the drive into town is beautiful as one passes through these dunes. Sao Cristovao doesn’t have any hotels or pousadas, though I’m sure this will change in the future as tourists discover quite how beautiful Brazil’s Costa Branca is.
Brazil’s Costa Branca is totally ripe for exploration with a hire car - the coastal region is full of stunning bays and beaches like these. You could easily spend a week exploring, and chilling out, here.
Brazil’s Costa Branca gets a definate thumbs up - and after Jericoacoara, the best place to visit in the locality of Fortaleza in my (and my girlfriends) opinion. Go there now before those real estate tycoons arrive!