My first weekend was spent traveling to the beach in Brazil, in the city of Guarujá (Portuguese pronunciation, gwaɾuˈʒa), less than 55 miles (or 87 kilometers) from São Paulo. This city is
nicknamed “The Pearl of the Atlantic” and during the 70s was the epitome of a chic weekend getaway destination in Brazil. Some feel that Guarujá was overdeveloped during it’s time of rapidly growing popularity, due to a lot of tall buildings that now line the beach. However, this city that is devoted to tourism has miles of beaches that includes urban, busy beaches and those that are more deserted, suiting any taste. It also has great waters for surfing.
Brazil has a number of cities and towns on the beach, but due to traffic from the city, they are not always easily accessible for a quick weekend trip. Those who live and work in São Paulo often look for an escape from the city on the weekends. Guarujá is perfect without having to travel too far. We traveled with another couple from São Paulo to whom a mutual friend introduced us. His family has an apartment in Guarujá and he was nice enough to invite us to stay with him for the weekend and drive us from the city. Friday happened to be Brazil’s Valentines Day or Dia dos Namorados so traffic around São Paulo seemed especially dense. We left on Friday night around midnight and arrived in the city of Guarujá an hour and a half later.
Upon arriving on Friday we hung out around where we were staying and went to sleep after a few hours of listening to music, sipping cocktails on the balcony, and talking. On Saturday morning, we went straight down to the beach once everyone had gotten up. We ate food sold by vendors and relaxed on the beach all afternoon.
Although it is Winter in Brazil right now, it was 85 degrees and sunny all day, which was perfect. The ocean water was a little cold, but it was perfect for cooling off it. 85 degrees and sunny at the beach is my kind of Winter! Just before the sun set, we also enjoyed some time by the pool and in the sauna.
We then showered and went out to explore Guarujá. We ate at a delicious seafood and pizza restaurant called Monduba that has been around since 1966.
We had stuffed crab for appetizers, shrimp in a delicious pumpkin sauce, fish, rice, and potatoes for dinner followed by two great desserts. The view of the restaurant was perfect and the staff was friendly and provided good service.
On Sunday we relaxed on the beach again and cooked out in a traditional Brazilian BBQ style next to pool. This included lots and lots of meats, bread with a vinaigrette or onions and tomatoes marinated in olive oil, vinegar, and balsamic.
After eating and showering, we loaded into the car to head to Mauá, a city not too far out of the way on the way back to São Paulo to see a Brazilian country music concert. The friend we traveled with had a childhood friend who was performing at an annual festival called Festa Junina de Mauá that I can best describe as a fair or carnival meets music festival. The artists name was Wagner Simão and he invited us to hang out with him in his trailer before and after his performance, as well as watch backstage. Following his performance, Michel Teló performed, during we were able to stand in a VIP area right in front of the stage to watch. During both performances there were girls screaming and crying, similar to the reaction you would have seen girls my age giving to N’Sync or The Backstreet Boys or girls today upon seeing Justin Beiber. After the performances were over, we rode bumper cars and hung out in the trailer back stage before heading back to São Paulo. Both performers were great and we had so much fun learning some of the music and seeing a different side of the Brazilian culture! Brazilian country is very different from American country. My new favorite Brazilian country song is: Suíte 14.
Considering a weekend (or day) trip to Guarujá during your time in Brazil? Keep reading for some travel tips.
São Paulo has the closest airports including the International and local airport. From the airport, you can travel by car on the Immigrantes Road SP 160 or Anchieta Road SP 150.
There are multiple busses or shuttles each day from the airport or from the Jabaquara bus station in São Paulo. Taxis are another option, but will be much more expensive than a bus.
Regardless of your method of transportation, but depending upon traffic, the trip will take you about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Traveling around Guarujá is easiest by car, whether your own or by a hired taxi. There are also buses that run during the day, but they are much more scarce at night. Using a bicycle is another good option for getting around the city. There is a bike lane that stretches all around the city and will lead you to some beautiful views.
Guarujá has not only great and fresh seafood, but many other local and international foods. The vendors on the beach sell a wide variety of food including: shrimp, crab, fish, coconuts, açaí, ice cream, potato chips, sandwiches, and corn.
A few to try:
- Il Far Restaurante
- Les Epices
- Paula Restaurante
Things to Do
The beach of course! Guarujá has a number of beaches including: Enseada and Pitanguerias, which are the most popular and well known with a lot of kiosks. Asturias is the beach we hung out on the most and was lively, but not over-croweded. Brancas, and Preta are more deserted and perfect for relaxing. Tombo is great for surfing but the waters make the ocean a little more rough for swimming. It is less crowded than other beaches, which makes it easy to find a place for sunbathing. Tortugas is good for kayaking, boating, or water skiing. Pernambuco is a calm and sophisticated beach with great houses to see. Finally, Pereque feels like being in a fisherman’s village.
Guarujá also has a golf club and the largest aquarium in South America, Acqua Mundo Theme Park. There is a lot of local vendors on the sidewalks and some small beach shops for shopping as well.
There are a lot of bars and clubs that play music along the beach including: Barbirott’s, Guaruca Praria, Barril, and Tahiti.
One of my favorite experiences was watching groups play soccer on the beach at night. Asturias beach had a lot of lights which perfectly illuminated the sand for a game. I think watching locals play is a must for anyone visiting a beach in Brazil! Doing this will be something on my list during each visit to a beach while I’m here.
We stayed in an apartment that belongs to a friend’s family on Asturias beach, which was great to be able to store groceries and cook. We had chairs and an umbrella set up for us on the beach each day, which was very convenient. Air BnB has a number of great options in a variety of price ranges that can accommodate a wide range of needs. There are also several well rated hotels in Guarujá, including Casa Grande Hotel Resort and Sofitel Guaruja Jequitimar.
Other great options for weekend trips that don’t require a flight from São Paulo, but that are a little further drive thanGuarujá include Ubatuba, Ilha Bela, Santos, and São Sebastião.
Overall, my first weekend in Brazil was wonderful, relaxing, and filled with so many wonderful experiences that helped me see several varieties of the culture. Everyone I have met has been so friendly and welcoming and I can’t wait to continue exploring this beautiful country!