Mammoth sand dunes, long stretches of white beach and shimmering waters concealing a kaleidoscopic world beneath; these are just some of the reasons to visit Natal.
Located on Brazil’s north-eastern shoreline, Natal is a fun, family-friendly beach resort that’s not only great for spending lazy days on the sand and swimming in the ocean, but also for exploring its dramatic dunes. Boasting a vast array of busy bars and restaurants – seafood being a particular specialty – Natal really is a place to go if you wish to do little more than relax, soak up the sun, sip on a cocktail and watch the world go by.
Founded over 400 years ago, Natal, the state capital of Rio Grande do Norte, has long been part of the picture in this region of Brazil. The landscape here is constantly changing due to the coastal erosion seen in this area, highlighted by the huge sand dunes that can be seen cascading down the hills and cliffs from various points in the city. Loved for its gin-clear waters, golden beaches and tropical palm trees, Natal is a popular holiday destination and as such has a chilled vibe about it, particularly if you head out of the city centre and towards the coast.
Away from the water, Natal is home to an impressive football stadium, purpose built for the World Cup in 2014; its futuristic curves almost emulate those of the nearby sand dunes. The same can be said in regard to the exterior of the Metropolitan Cathedral, another wonderful example of Brazil’s flair for design. Speaking of architecture, the Forte dos Reis Magos – almost as old as the city itself – is a must-see sight. Preserved in its original star-shaped formation, this ancient fort affords visitors spectacular views along with an interesting insight to Natal’s history. However, all being said the beaches really are the stars of the show in this city, and with so many available you will be spoilt for choice!
Visit the Cajueiro de Pirangi
Located just a short drive from Natal in the town of Pirangi, this giant cashew nut tree is not something you would see every day; in fact, it is the biggest of its kind in the world. Producing over 70,000 nuts a year and at over 130 years old it is a treasured landmark in the area. Wander through its branches on carefully constructed walkways, while knowledgeable guides explain the science behind this unusual natural phenomenon.
Explore a nature reserve at the Parque das Dunas
Jump in a dune buggy and let your experienced driver show you the highs and lows, quite literally, of one of Brazil’s largest city parks. After an adrenaline-fuelled ride, take things one step further and try a spot of sand boarding or perhaps hold on tight as you speed down the zip line into a refreshing lagoon at the bottom of the hill. Alternatively, take it easy and stroll through the park, appreciating the diverse flora and fauna that can be found here. With several eateries within the park, you can easily make a day of it.
Catch some rays at Ponta Negra
One of the most popular beaches in the area, Ponta Negra, has golden sands, crystal clear waters and is also a great place to see the enormous Morro do Careca dune in all its glory. What’s more, in a city that hosts an annual shrimp festival, trying some at one of the beachside cafes or restaurants here is a must!