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Brazil, with its 7,500 kilometre coastline, has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You’ll find many articles online claiming to provide an ultimate summary of the best beaches in Brazil. But these articles are all missing one place. Praia da Almada.
Praia da Almada (Almada beach) is one of my favourite beaches in the world.
It’s far away from the crowds that fill Brazil’s more famous beaches (Copacabana, Ipanema, Lopes Mendes, etc.), but still fairly easy to reach.
I almost didn’t write this post. A selfish part of me wants to keep this place as secret as possible. But it is so unbelievably beautiful, I thought I ought to share it with you. 🙂
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Praia da Almada - The Most Stunning Place Imaginable
“Where is this secret paradise?“, I hear you ask.
Praia da Almada is on the northern coast of São Paulo State, roughly halfway between the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
The beach is located at the end of a small peninsula in the Parque Estadual Serra do Mar – a huge, thickly-forested and mountainous area that runs along Brazil’s south-eastern coast.
This State Park is one of the most ecologically important corridors in the country’s Atlantic Forest. Here you can find more than 1,300 species of animals and 1,200 types of plants, including countless varieties of wild orchids.
The area is home to wild cats (jaguars, pumas, and ocelots), as well as sloths, tapirs, armadillos, howler monkeys, and toucans.
The beach itself has golden sand, and the sea is calm and clear. Clean, quiet, and totally unspoilt – it’s a universe away from the busy, commercial beaches that line the coast closer to Rio.
There are some basic facilities – parking, toilets, freshwater showers, kiosks, and a few casual bars and restaurants. However, this place still feels very secluded.
You can rent kayaks and paddle-boards, and there are walking trails that lead to other spots along the Almada peninsula.
Fishermen work on the beach. Local families sit and enjoy the sunshine. But aside from a few other people, you can basically have the whole place to yourself.
Hidden away, at the end of a steep, windy road – it’s a perfect place to escape the rest of the world, surrounded by nature. Your own little slice of paradise.
How To Get To Praia da Almada, SP
Realistically, you’ll probably want to have your own car to visit Praia da Almada. One of its biggest advantages is that this is one of the more secluded beaches in São Paulo.
In theory, you could take a taxi here from one of the towns along the coast (e.g. Paraty, Ubatuba, etc.). But this option would be fairly pricey, and you’d probably struggle to find a ride out again at the end of your stay.
With a car, you have infinitely more flexibility, and can go wherever you like afterwards too.
Especially if you’re splitting the cost of a hire car with others, it’s really not that expensive – at least by European/North American standards. And it makes going to the shops and self-catering much easier, which also helps to bring your costs down.
Don't believe the scaremongering in online forums about hiring a car in Brazil.
(I’m looking at you TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet.)
It’s a lot more straightforward than people on these forums would have you believe.
Chances are, you won’t be murdered. And the road conditions are generally fine, aside from the odd pothole and the occasional aggressive driver. Unless you’re absolutely terrible behind the wheel, you’ll be fine.
Just enter “Praia da Almada, Ubatuba” into your favourite GPS app, and you’ll be golden.
From Rio de Janeiro
Praia da Almada is 280 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro, and you can easily make this journey in a day.
The most direct (and scenic) route is to take the Rio-Santos Highway (BR 101), Brazil’s main coastal highway, via Angra dos Reis and Paraty. The total journey takes roughly 5 hours by car.
If you’re already in Paraty, take the BR 101 towards Ubatuba for 38 kilometres, until you reach the turn-off for Praia da Almada.
Once you leave the main highway, you need to drive 3.7 kilometres along a single-track road which snakes its way along the Almada peninsula and down to the coast. The beach is at the very end of this road.
Note – a 2WD car is fine, but just be careful when driving along the final road down to the beach. It’s pretty steep in places, with a few sharp bends. (Also, watch out for the wildlife! I almost flattened an armadillo on one blind corner.)
From São Paulo
If you’re coming from São Paulo, the journey is 265 kilometres and takes about 4.5 hours.
Most of this drive is inland, via state highways SP-70 and SP-125, until you get to Ubatuba.
From here, follow the coastal BR 101 in the direction of Rio de Janeiro for 35 kilometres.
Finally, once you reach the turn-off for Praia da Almada, take the 3.7 kilometre single-track road described above.
Where To Stay In Praia da Almada, Ubatuba
There are no large hotels in Praia da Almada, which is one of the reasons it’s so special and unspoilt.
Instead, you’ll find a few idyllic Airbnbs and pousadas, which blend perfectly into the lush, green Atlantic Forest. Some of these have incredible views.
There’s a decent selection of Airbnbs, with a range of styles, to suit all budgets.
You can stay on the beach itself. But I recommend finding somewhere up the hill, between the sea and the main road. This way you can enjoy the gorgeous views out over the bay and islands.
If you’re looking for a really special place to celebrate an occasion, check out this Airbnb.
It’s fairly simple, with a basic kitchen and bathroom, and certainly isn’t the cheapest option. But, oh boy.
Sitting on that terrace, watching condors circling slowly below, listening to the birds, the sound of the sea, the swaying trees, and the cicadas…. Paradise.
This is such an amazing place. Without a doubt, my favourite Airbnb in the world.
Alternatively, there are a few pousadas (small guesthouses) dotted around the Almada peninsula.
Staying in these friendly, family-run places often works out cheaper than Airbnb, and can be a good way to get to know local people too.
Pousada Casa Mila is an excellent one, with 8 comfortable apartments dotted around the hillside, surrounded by lush greenery. Stunning views over the bay come as standard. They do a delicious fresh breakfast, have a swimming pool, sun deck, games room, hammocks, and a bar in the evening.
If you’d rather camp, there are several campsites with simple facilities nearby. Check out Rancho do Tuta (on the Ubatumirum side of the Almada peninsula), or Camping Caracol (on the other side, near Praia da Fazenda).
Alternatively, you could easily pitch up in a secluded spot along the large bay which curves across towards Ubatumirim.
Check out this article for my review of the best tents for wild camping.
In short… One of the best tents that money can buy is the MSR Hubba Hubba 2-person tent.
Best Places To Eat In Praia da Almada, Brazil
You’ll find a few little restaurants and bars next to the beach. Fresh fish and seafood are the stars of the show here, caught daily by local fishermen. There are also plenty of options for vegetarians, plus a few traditional Brazilian dishes.
Caju Bar & Restaurante is my personal favourite. They do fantastic food (try their fried calamari and their ceviche), and delicious cocktails. Prices are reasonable, and the staff are incredibly friendly.
Another great option is Mirante da Chica, a tiny restaurant up on the hill, about halfway between the main road and the beach.
Aside from their exceptional (and exceptionally boozey) caipirinhas, this place has a stunning setting. From your table, you can see all the way out across the bay, and it’s a brilliant spot to watch the sunset.
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