The unspoilt beauty of Brazil's Costa Verde

Angela Wood

Senior Contributor

You’ve experienced the hectic buzz of Rio and now you’re ready to kick back and relax. Fortunately, Brazil’s beautiful Costa Verde or Green Coast is just 3.5 hours away by car. Whether you wish to experience the festival atmosphere of Angra dos Reis, explore colonial cobbled streets of Paraty or want to take a private boat ride to forested Ilha Grande, Brazil’s Green Coast is a tropical paradise for all to enjoy.

Enjoy Nightlife of Angra dos Reis

Angra dos Reis located 160 kilometres from cosmopolitan Rio de Janeiro is a popular weekend retreat for city dwellers. The region is home to 365 unspoilt islands, natural parks, emerald rainforests and some of Brazil’s most spectacular beaches. These can all be explored during daylight hours, however it’s after dark that the party really begins. The bustling port town of Angra dos Reis transforms into a lively centre of rock and pop. Local bars open their doors to bands playing samba-style pagode and folkloric forró music which originated on farms and coffee plantations in the region. Throughout the year, the port town is also known for its colourful festivals. Each year visitors can enjoy the buzzing atmosphere during Procissao Maritima Carnaval. Hundreds of painted boats adorned with lavish decorations sail towards the shores of Angra dos Reis whilst playing maritime songs during this cultural festival. On their arrival, the celebration truly starts, so join with locals, and drink, dance and feast all night long!

Photograph Paraty’s Colourful Colonial Architecture

Paraty, in colonial times was a small port town utilised by the Portuguese to transport gold from Minas Gerais to Europe. When the Portuguese left, and new roads were built which bypassed the town, Paraty was for the most-part forgotten, before opening to tourists a few decades ago. The benefit is that the town’s old colonial architecture, pretty squares and quaint churches remain intact, unravaged by time or tourism. Low-rise, white-washed houses are decorated with accents of cobalt, terracotta, mustard or green and street side cafes display their menu of the day on a board outside. As you cycle or walk along cobbled streets, you’ll hear the familiar clip-clop of horse’s hooves and a rattling of carts as they transport souvenir-laden tourists around town. There are superb opportunities in Paraty for keen photographers. You can snap Instagram-worthy shots alongside the canal, in pretty pousadas or from the hilltop fortress overlooking awe-inspiring coastline. Be sure to organise a guided walking tour with a local expert and you won’t miss a single thing. 

Relax on Pristine Beaches of Ilha Grande

It’s hard to believe looking at Ilha Grande today that it was once a leper colony, then up until 1994 this shimmering paradise island housed a high-security prison occupied by Brazil’s most dangerous! Today, in a complete 360, the island has transformed into a scenic tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site noted for its tropical beaches and lush vegetation. Ilha Grande boasts one of the world’s richest eco-systems and is home to endangered species including the red-browed Amazon parrot and maned sloth. The seas, also protected, are teeming with coral, sea turtles, dolphins and you can even catch glimpses of Magellanic penguins as you kayak along the coast. The island’s mission to promote eco-tourism is apparent, there are no roads and no motor vehicles on the isle, instead you are encouraged to focus on pursuits which reconnect you with nature. So, kick back and relax with a caipirinha on one of the Ilha Grande’s 100 pristine white sand beaches or trek to the highest peak – Pico do Papagaio for outstanding panoramic views. 

See Wildlife in Lush Coastal Rainforests

Stretching along Brazil’s Costa Verde and inland as far as Paraguay and Argentina, the Atlantic Rainforest is an emerald paradise peppered with cascading waterfalls, rare birdlife and wildlife. As one of the world’s top five regions for biodiversity, the rainforest is home to almost 1000 bird species, 264 mammal species, 456 amphibians and over 300 reptiles and 31% of these can’t be found anywhere else in the world. In fact, it’s the only place in which you can glimpse critically endangered muriquis, golden lion tamarins and blond capuchin primates. Deforestation threatens the forest every day, and to date, 250 species which were once thriving here have now become extinct. Fortunately, there are companies who are trying to preserve biodiversity by educating people to work sustainably in the region. Visiting the Atlantic Rainforest gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about the wildlife and challenges we face in a changing world. It also allows us to experience first-hand the unparalleled beauty which makes this unique pocket of Brazil so special. 

Sample Delicious Green Coast Cuisine

Each region of Brazil is defined by its own inimitable style of cuisine. Heavily influenced by immigrants from Europe and Africa, the east coast’s diverse dishes are both delicious and flavoursome. On traditional menus, you’ll discover fresh seafood complemented with subtle hints of Mediterranean spice and fused with Afro-Caribbean ingredients. One such dish is Moqueca - a traditionally rich seafood stew stemming back 300 years containing garlic, onions, olive oil, tomato, peppers and cilantro. You’ll find different variations in restaurants throughout Brazil, with other regions replacing Mediterranean olive oil with palm oil and coconut milk. A delicious street food to try is Acarajé. These mouth-watering black-eyed pea balls are stuffed with vegetables or shrimp and deep fried. Many fruits and vegetables are grown along Costa Verde too, making it easy to shop for picnics and barbeques with papaya, mango, guava, chuchu and coconut all in abundance.

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