Information about Paraty
Paraty is a lovely 17th century town that has been perfectly preserved thanks to a long period of isolation. The colonial town boomed during the heyday of the sugar trade as the main port for its export the town also became the centre for the production of the Brazilian cane rum, Cachaca, that is the essential ingredient of a caipirinha. The arrival of other, more accessible ports, led to the decline of the town and it remained virtually cut off until the middle of the 20th Century. The opening of the Rio-Santos highway in the late seventies led to its rebirth as a tourist destination.
Paraty was declared a National Historical Monument in 1966 thereby safeguarding the preservation of the Centro Historico. The winding, narrow streets paved with giant cobblestones were designed to protect the town from pirate raids and curiously or a seaside town most of the houses have their backs to the sea. Small fishermen’s cottages and vast merchants mansions stand side-by-side, all white stucco with brightly coloured shutters and doors. Vehicles are banned from the old town, and the wealth of art galleries, shops and restaurants are explored on foot. Bring flat shoes – Paraty and heels do not mix!
We have put together a number of options for boat trips that range from little Greek-style, chug-chug fishing boats that are great to explore the nearer beaches in Paraty and to get to one of several excellent seafood restaurants that are situated on one of several nearby islands. There are dozens and dozens of unspoiled beaches (the road which only arrived in the '70's still reaches very few points along the coast) that are great for swimming, snorkeling and picnics and that can be reached using these simple local boats. We also have several wonderful schooners available for longer days at sea, and a number of faster speedboats that can be used for reaching the remoter beaches along the coast or to water-ski or wakeboard. Prices vary according to the boat and all may be booked in advance or with the hotel.
Fishing trips can be easily arranged and sea kayaks are available.
Part of the attraction of Paraty is provided by the background of the wonderful coastal sierra, which is still largely populated by a broccoli-like covering of lush green forest. Within the forest there are dozens of trails to beautiful waterfalls where you can swim while gazing after morpho butterflies and a brilliant array of tropical birdlife. It makes a great family introduction to the nature and importance of the tropical forest (without the hardship of trekking up to the Amazon).
The reason for the Paraty's impressively preserved old town is perhaps owing to the lack of a great beach right in front of the town. The best of the town beaches is at Jabaquara and it is fun for a beer or sundown snack, although it is no great shakes when compared to many others in the region. However there are a huge number of beaches that can be reached within 20 minutes by either car or boat from Paraty which vary from calm oasis to beaches better suited to surfers. Nearly all are very pretty and have great little bars to enjoy a green coconut or cold beer with the view. We will advise locally which beach is best suited to your needs on any particular day and can arranged transport or a hire car as preferred.
These are just a selection of beaches that car be reached by land, either with a driver of a hire car.
Timings are approximate and are based on driving. The nearest beaches of interest are as follows:
Trinidade – A series of three great beaches with natural pools that can be accessed by a short boat ride. 25 minutes by car from Paraty. Varies between big surf waves to gentle surf ideal for swimming, which fluctuates greatly with the tide and moon.
Camburi, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay ringed by jungle-covered hills. 35 minutes from Paraty. Good swimming and gentle surf. Plenty of shade if spending the day there with children.
Praia Fazenda (Picinguaba) a 4km long expanse of beach, which shelves gently into the sea making it ideal for children. Take you own drinks, shade and snacks as the beach lies in the national park and has no beach bars. 40 minutes from Paraty in the direction of Sao Paulo.
Paraty Mirim – Accessed along a bumpy trail which stops where the bay begins. The beach itself is pretty and usually very quiet and it is the best point to pick up a local boat to explore the fjord of Saco de Mamangua. 30 minutes from Paraty. Protected bay with almost no waves.
Ilha do Pelado – Head to Sao Gonçalo beach along the Rio road where a small boat will ferry you to the island which has several good restaurants that make good base from which to snorkel and swim in the gin-clear water. The Bar do Beth is our favorite. Occasionally you will be fortunate enough to sea dolphins swimming by.
RESTAURANTS IN AND AROUND PARATY
Punto di Vino, Praca da Matriz (24-3371 1348) has a good Italian menu with lots of fresh fish and has a great pizza oven serving crunchy thin pizzas. There is space to eat both inside and in the covered garden.
Bartolomeu on Rua Samuel Costa (24-3371 5032) is the good place for steak and has a lovely walled garden for drinks.
Banana da Terra, Rua Samuel Costa 198 is the best choice for Brazilian and regional specialties.
Sabor do Mar. Very good seafood and chopp, they also have a good fish market.
El Refugio, with tables outside near the pier offers good Brazilian dishes and the service is usually very good.
Mago e Merlin is the most formal of the restaurants in town and has a French inspired menu and is a good option for a celebratory dinner.
In the evening there are a number of bars that open along one side of the Praça da Matriz (the main square which contains that largest of the towns six churches) all of which are a good place for an icy beer, a snack and good dose of people watching. Bar Coupe of the corner of da Matriz and da Cadeia streets is probably consistently the best.
A great place for a sun downer or a drink and snack after a boat trip is the Bar dos Cais next door to the El Refugio restaurant with table outside that look over the bay and the small square in front of the Pousada casa Turquesa. The owner Joao, is a Carioca who prepares the excellent caipirinhas and tapas that he brings to the table as a labor of love. It’s a nice spot to let the world turn. Try the freshly prepared casquinha de siri (dressed crab cooked with flat leaf parsley and a touch of coconut milk) served with hot pepper and ground manioc. Order a caipirinha served with Marisabel cachaça, one the best local distilleries and one that can be trusted to leave you functioning afterwards (the cheaper end of the cachaça is to be avoided due to its paint-stripper like qualities).
La Gite d'Indaiatiba run by Olivier & Valeria is the pick of the bunch serving delicious Euro-Brazilian dishes. It is 25 minutes along the road BR101 towards Rio turning off at Km562 to the Fazenda Grauna, up into the hills. The gardens, the waterfall, the fresh water lap-pool and the view and the food make it an exquisite place. Opens for lunch and dinner by reservation.
Our favorite lunch spot is Cheiro de Camarao at Corumbe – a simple beach barraca with just a few wooden tables and benches hammered into the sand where the proprietor, Marcia, serves up generous portions of fresh fish and seafood. It’s easy to get to, but very hard to leave. Closes at 16h00.