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    Founded in 1585, the coastal city of João Pessoa is the capital of Paraíba. It lies
    120 km north of Recife, 688 km south of Fortaleza, and 185 km south of Natal. While the
    city center lacks flavor, Tambaú beach, seven km east, is a pleasant place to hang out
    for a few days.

    The city is named after João Pessoa, the governor of Paraíba who formed an alliance
    with Getúlio Vargas to run for the presidency of Brazil in 1929. In response to advances
    from other political parties attempting to gain his support, João Pessoa uttered a pithy
    `nego'(I refuse), which is now given prominence in all Brazilian history books, and
    is emblazoned in bold letters on the state flag of Paraíba.

    João Pessoa’s aspirations to the vice presidency were short-lived: in July 1930 he was
    assassinated by João Dantas, an event which sparked a revolutionary backlash that
    eventually swept Getúlio Vargas to power (with considerable help from the military) in
    October 1930.

    Orientation

    The rodoviária is on the western edge of the city. The main hotel and shopping
    district, known as Praça, is further east; and close by is Parque Solon de Lucena, a
    large lake circled by trees, which locals simply call Lagoa. There are numerous bus stops
    here which are convenient for local transport for example, to travel to the beach district
    of Tambaú or further up the coast to Cabo Branco.

    Information

    Tourist Offices PBTUR (226-7078), at Avenida Almirante Tamandaré 100, in Tambaú,
    provides maps and leaflet. It’s inside the Centro Turístico, diagonally opposite Tropical
    Hotel Tambaú. There are also tourist information stands at the rodoviária (which
    only opens irregularly and at the airport.

    Money

    Banco do Brasil is on Praça João Pessoa—a couple of doors down from Hotel
    Aurora. It’s open from 10 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday. In Tambaú, the branch in the
    Centro Turístico is open the same hours.

    Post & Telephone

    The main post office in the center of town is on Avenida Guedes Pereira. The main
    office of TELPA, the state telephone company, is at Rua Visconde de Pelotas 259.

    Dangers & Annoyances

    João Pessoa has an odd variety of `noisemobiles,’ vehicles converted to carry as many
    loudspeakers as possible. They cruise the streets deafening everyone with advertisements
    for underwear at amazing prices or airing political grievances.

    Igreja São Francisco

    The principal tourist attraction is the Igreja São Francisco, considered to be one of
    Brazil’s finest churches. Construction was interrupted by successive battles with the
    Dutch and French, resulting in a beautiful but architecturally confused complex built over
    three centuries. The façade, church towers and monastery (of Santo Antônio) display a
    hotchpotch of styles. Portuguese tiled walls lead up to the church’s carved jacaranda wood
    doors. The church is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8 to 11 am and 2 to 5 pm and on Sunday
    from 2 to 5 pm.

    Museu Fotográfico Walfredo Rodrigues

    The Walfredo Rodrigues Photography Museum in the old Casa da Pólvora (Powder House),
    on Ladeira de São Francisco, has an interesting collection of pictures of the old city.
    It’s open daily from 7 am to noon and 1 to 5.30 pm.

    Beaches

    Aside from the rusty remains of battles against the French and Dutch, the beaches are
    clean. Praia de Tambaú, seven km directly east of the center, is rather built up,
    but nice. There are bars, restaurants, coconut palms and fig trees along Avenida João
    Maurício (north) and Avenida Almirante Tamandaré (south).

    South of Tambaú is Praia Cabo Branco. From here it’s a glorious 15-km walk
    along Praia da Penha—a beautiful stretch of sand, surf, palm groves and
    creeks—to Ponta de Seixas, the easternmost tip of South America. Clear
    water and coral make it a good spot for diving.

    Immediately north of Tambaú, there are good urban beaches: Manaira, Praia do Bessa
    I, Praia do Bessa II, Praia do Macaco
    (a surf beach) and Praia do Poço.

    Twenty km north of Tambaú are the Forte Santa Catarina, Costinha and Camboinha
    beaches.

    In the past, Costinha was a center for whale hunting, but this bloody practice should
    have ceased by now.

    Praia Cabedelo has a couple of pousadas, restaurants and bars.
    Boats to Ilha de Areia Vermelha, an island of red sand, which emerges from
    the Atlantic at low tide, also leave from here. In summer, dozens of boats park around the
    island and the party lasts until the tide comes in.

    Boat Trips

    Navegar Turismo (246-2191) operates excursions on a motor schooner to Areia Vermelha
    and Praia de Santa Catarina, and various sunset-moonlight cruises. The trips last between
    three and four hours.

    Places to Stay—bottom end

    João Pessoa’s main attraction is Tambaú beach, and that’s where many of the hotels
    are, although there are modest hotels in the center as well. When inquiring about room
    prices, it’s worth being persistent: some hotels will instantly claim that all the cheaper
    rooms are occupied.

    City Center

    The Hotel Aurora (241-3238) at Praça João Pessoa 51, has adequate quartos at
    $6.50/10 for singles/doubles. Avoid the rooms overlooking the streets, which can be noisy.

    The Hotel Franklin (222-3001), at Rua Rodrigues de Aquino 293, is a basic,
    family-run place with quartos at $6.50/11 for singles/doubles.

    The Hotel Guarany (241-2308), at Rua Marechal Almeida Barreto 181, is clean, but
    some rooms with fan have a gaping hole where the air-con has been removed, and a similar
    void in the wall above the door. Apartamentos with fan start at around $14/21 for
    singles/doubles.

    The Hotel Kennedy (221-4924), at Rua Rodrigues de Aquino 17, has apartamentos
    with air-con at $14/17.50 for singles/ doubles, with a sumptuous breakfast included; with
    fan and no breakfast, the price drops to $6/9.

    Tambaú

    The friendly hostel Albergue da Juventude Tambaú ( 226-5460) is at Rua Bezerra
    Reis 82. There’s another hostel just south of Tambaú, at Cabo Branco: Albergue da
    Juventude Cabo Branco (226-3628), at Avenida Padre José Trigueiro 104.

    The best deal in Tambaú is the Hotel Pousada Mar Azul (226-2660), at Avenida
    João Maurício 315. Huge apartamentos with a kitchen and refrigerator cost $18,
    single or double. Breakfast is not included.

    The Hotel Gameleira (226-1576), at Avenida João Maurício 157, has quartos
    (without fan) at $14.50/15.50 for singles/ doubles, and standard (with fan) apartamentos
    at $15.50/20 for singles/doubles. If you want to upgrade, luxury rooms and suites are
    also available.

    Praia de Seixas

    If you fancy camping at the easternmost tip of Brazil, there’s a campground, Camping-PB-01
    run by Camping Clube do Brasil at Praia de Seixas, which is about 16 km from the
    center of João Pessoa.

    Places to Stay—middle

    City Center

    The Paraíba Palace Hotel (221-3107), at Praça Vidal de Negreiros, s/n (no
    number), is quite an impressive colonial palace which includes a swimming pool and a
    restaurant. Although it is certainly a top-end hotel, its prices are currently a bargain
    in the middle range. The standard apartamentos start at $35/45 for singles/doubles,
    and the luxury rooms cost $50/60.

    The Hotel Lagoa Park (241-1414), next to the Lagoa, at Parque Solon de Lucena
    19, is a modern hotel with well-appointed rooms at $32/42.50 for singles/doubles.

    Tambaú

    The Hotel dos Navegantes (226-4018) at Avenida Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes
    602, has apartamentos at $40/44 for singles/doubles. It’s close to the beach and
    has a swimming pool.

    Places to Stay—top end

    The five-star Tropical Hotel Tambaú (226-3660), at Avenida Almirante Tamandaré
    229, on Praia de Tambaú, is the city’s entry into the world of modern architecture. From
    a distance this immense edifice (part of the Varig hotel group) bears a close resemblance
    to a rocket launching pad. The hotel has standard singles/doubles for $97/112, and luxury
    singles/doubles for $136/156.

    Places to Eat

    City Center

    Cassino da Lagoa has an open patio and a fine position beside the Lagoa. Seafood
    and chicken dishes are recommended. La Veritta, at Rua Desembargador Souto Maior
    331, does good Italian food. Tempero da Mãe, at Rua Marechal Almeida Barreto 326,
    is a good bet for tasty regional dishes. Sorveteria Tropical is close to Hotel
    Guarany and serves ice cream in exotic flavors. Vegetarians can head for O Natural, at
    Rua Rodrigues de Aquino 177, but it serves lunch only.

    On the 3rd floor of the Paraíba Palace Hotel is an excellent restaurant with an
    international menu. Prices here are high, but you can also simply order a beer with an
    appetizer or snack and enjoy the view of the weird moat and city life from the terrace.

    Tambaú

    Rua Coração, a block back from the beachfront, near the Tropical Hotel Tambaú, is a
    compact restaurant strip with a variety of styles. Adega do Alfredo, at Rua
    Coração de Jesus 22, specializes in Portuguese dishes, but it’s a bit of a tourist trap.
    Nova China, at Rua Coração de Jesus 100, is an inexpensive option for Chinese
    food. For seafood, there’s Meio Ambiente, a cool bar and restaurant at Rua
    Coração de Jesus 144, or Peixada do Duda, at Rua Coração de Jesus 147. The ensopado
    de caranguejo (crab stew) here is superb.

    Rosbife, opposite the Tropical Hotel Tambaú on the corner of Avenida Olinda, is
    a good lunch spot with cold meats, salads and hot food priced by the kilo.

    Entertainment

    Nightlife in Tambaú centers around the beachfront along Rua João Maurício and
    Avenida Olinda, which runs off the beachfront near the Hotel Tambaú.

    Bahamas, on Rua João Maurício next to the pier, is a popular meeting place and has
    live music on the weekend. For forró and lambada dancing in Tambaú,
    there’s Opera Light, at Rua João Maurício 33, and Casa Blanca, at Praça Santo Antônio
    22. Along Avenida Olinda, Colt, Estação and Forró Jazz are hip bars; there’s usually
    some live music on weekends. On the corner of Avenida Almirante and Avenida Olinda,
    there’s a small outdoor bar which caters for João Pessoa’s alternative crowd—grunge
    types, surf rats, metal heads and punks all thrown together in the one place!

    Things to Buy

    Avenida Rui Carneiro, on Praia de Tambaú, has ceramic, wicker, straw and leather goods
    for sale. On weekends, craft stalls set up in front of Tropical Hotel Tambaú. In the city
    center, Casa do Artesão Paraibano, at Rua Maciel Pinheiro 670, also has craftwork for
    sale.

    Getting There & Away

    Air

    Aeroporto Presidente Castro Pinto (229-3200) is 11 km from the city center. Flights
    operate to Rio, São Paulo and the major cities of the Northeast and the North.

    Bus

    The rodoviária (221-9611) is on Avenida Francisco Londres. There are frequent
    buses to Recife ($3, two hours), Natal ($4.50, 2 1/2 hours) and Fortaleza ($16, 10 hours).
    There are five daily departures running direct to Souza ($12.50, seven hours).

    Getting Around

    Bus

    Local buses can be boarded at the rodoviária; at the bus stop next to the main
    post office; and at the bus stops next to the Lagoa. Bus No 510 runs frequently to Tambaú
    ($0.30, 25 minutes). Bus No 507 runs to Cabo Branco.

    Taxi

    Taxistas on short hauls may try to charge tariff 2 (generally applicable at
    nights and on Sunday) instead of tariff 1, which applies during the daytime. Take a
    careful look at the price table, and work out your position on the map and point out
    obvious `detours’.

    A taxi to the airport costs around $18 from the rodoviária to the center costs
    around $2. To telephone a taxi call Teletaxi (221-3187).

    SOUTH OF JOÀO PESSOA

    Jacumã & Praia do Sol

    Thirty-five km south of João Pessoa, Praia Jacumã is a long, thin strip of beach
    featuring colored sand bars, natural pools, mineral water springs and barracas.

    The town’s pousada, the Valhall, perched on a hill overlooking the ocean,
    is run by a group of young Swedes led by Leif, who has traveled widely in Brazil.
    Comfortable apartamentos cost $15/18, with a huge Swedish/Brazilian breakfast
    included. In summer, there’s live music in the attached bar/restaurant.

    Halfway between Jacumã and João Pessoa is Praia do Sol, which is similar to Jacumã
    and an equally good place to relax—swaying in a hammock and sipping coconut milk in
    the shade.

    The Buraquinho Forest Reserve, operated by IBAMA, is 10 km before João Pessoa on
    BR-230.

    Getting There & Away

    There are direct buses to Jacumã from the rodoviária in João Pessoa.
    Travelling north from Pernambuco state on BR-101, ask to be dropped off at the
    Conde/Jacumã turn-off, and take a local bus from there to Jacumã.

    Tambaba

    About 10 km south of Jacumã is Praia de Tambaba, the only official nudist beach in the
    Northeast. The beach, rated by Brazilians as among the top 10 in Brazil, is divided into
    two parts: one section is reserved exclusively for nudists, and the other is open to
    clothed bathers. To prevent problems, the nude section has public relations officers who
    explain the rules to bathers. There are two barracas along the beach. When the
    beach is crowded, men are not allowed in the nude section unless accompanied by a woman.

    The Associação dos Amigos da Praia de Tambaba (Association of Friends of Tambaba)
    (290-1037, evenings only) can provide more information.

    To Tambaba, Pousada Valhall may be able to arrange transport; otherwise it’s a 1 ½
    hour walk along the beach from Jacumã.

    Pitimbu

    Praia Pitimbu, 75 km south of João Pessoa, has a long, broad beach, a coconut grove,
    some thatched-roof houses, and a couple of bars frequented by sugar-cane farmers,
    fisherfolk and jangada sailmakers. There are no hotels, but if you look friendly
    and bring a hammock, someone will put you up for a nominal fee.

    Travelling north on BR-101 from Pernambuco state into Paraíba state, there’s a
    turn-off just after the border, which leads 35 km down a rough road to Praia Pitimbu.

    BAÍA DA TRAIÇÀO

    Despite its peaceful, reef-sheltered waters, Coconut palms and gentle breezes, Baía da
    Traição has a bloody past. Here in 1501, the first Portuguese exploratory expedition was
    slaughtered by the Tabajara Indians. In 1625 the Portuguese had it out with the Dutch,
    claimed victory and left some rusty cannons and the ruins of a fortress in their wake.

    This fishing village, 85 km north of João Pessoa, has no regular lodging, but the
    beach is better than the one at Barra do Cunhaú, which is further north along the coast,
    in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.

    Getting There & Away

    There’s a partially paved turn-off to the beach on BR-101 at Mamanguape. The Rio Tinto
    bus company operates buses twice daily, at 5.30 am and 3 pm, from João Pessoa’s rodoviária
    ($2.50, two hours).

    SOUSA

    Sousa, 420 km west of João Pessoa, is known for an offbeat tourist attraction:
    dinosaur tracks. The tracks were discovered in 1920 by a geologist who was researching
    drought—a major preoccupation in the sertão. Later discoveries of tracks at
    over 13 different sites along the Rio do Peixe showed that the whole region had once been
    a Vale dos Dinossauros (Valley of Dinosaurs). There are at least three sites in the
    proximity of Sousa. The best is four km from town, at Passagem das Pedras da Fazenda Ilha,
    on the banks of the Rio do Peixe, where at least 50 prints have been left by dinosaurs
    which, judging by the depth and size of the imprints, weighed between three and four tons.

    This site is subject to flooding during the rainy season and is best visited with a
    guide. Transport options are limited to either hiring a taxi at the rodoviária or
    asking the staff at the Hotel Gadelha Palace to arrange transport and a guide.

    Travelers interested in handicrafts should make a side trip to the town of Aparecida,
    14 km east of Sousa, which is famed as a center for the production of superb hammocks,
    textiles, and goods made from leather and straw.

    Places to Stay & Eat

    The Hotel Gadelha Palace (521-1416), at Rua Presidente João Pessoa 2, has apartamentos
    for around $18/22 for singles/doubles. There’s a restaurant in the hotel, or if you hanker
    for pizza, try Diagonal, at Rua Getúlio Vargas 2.

    Getting There & Away

    There are six bus departures daily which run via Patos and Campina Grande to João
    Pessoa ($12.50, seven hours). Buses also depart four times daily to Juazeiro do Norte.

    Excerpts from Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit, 3rd edition, by
    Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey, Leonardo Pinheiro,  and Robyn Jones. For more
    information call Lonely Planet: (800) 275-8555. Copyright 1996 Lonely Planet Publications.
    Used by permission.

    Buy it at
    Amazon.com

    Lonely Planet
    Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit

    by Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey,
    Leonardo Pinheiro, Robyn Jones,
    704 pp

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