A colourful bike on the beach in Paraty
A colourful bike on the beach in Paraty

Paraty: Brazil’s Sleepy Gem

The Sleepy Gem of South America


The biggest reason people visit Brazil are the great beaches, there is no question about that.  In the months of December through March the beaches are lined with beautiful people strutting their stuff and children racing through the water filling the humid air with giggles.  The beaches are so incredible that people often forget that the country has one of the richest, most interesting histories in the world; a reminder of that great history can be found in the small coastal town of Paraty.

Although most people do come to Paraty hearing of its proximity to exotic and secluded beaches where one can waste away the day bronzing under a rich sun or cooling off playing in the gentle waves of the Atlantic, it is the history and charm of Paraty that will remain ingrained in the memory of visitors.  Holidayers heading to the beach can’t help but notice the charisma of this quaint sea town.  This old port is one of the oldest settlements in Southern Brazil and if its streets could talk they would tell tales that would put the wisest old grandfather’s stories to shame.

Paraty, street front, Brazil
Paraty street front

Charming wooden tables and chairs line the center of the unevenly bricked streets of the town’s center.  The houses and restaurants nearly all shine in bright shades of white showing their uniqueness through the vivid colours of the trim on their doors and windows.  The laid back atmosphere of Paraty almost feels more Caribbean than it does Brazilian and it could easily leave casual visitors in a perpetual state of peace and comfort which they are unwilling to shake.

The Old Church in Paraty, Brazil
The Old Church in Paraty

The town’s old church looks outwards on its lush ocean bay as if protecting the village from intruders.  The battered white paint of the church and the fading stone fence give light to the battles it has fought as well.  It seems that this church constantly faces environmental battles with the forceful tropical storms that can rip across these shores. Despite the faded nature of the exterior of the church it still seems to hold a powerful sense of pride.

Kids playing in Paraty
Kids Playing in the canal

Even the local beach, which most tourists quickly flee from due to its “unattractiveness,” has significant charm.  Trodden wooden canoes run up on the shores of the coastline and sit waist deep in sand.  Classic Spanish colonial street lamps stand oddly, yet proudly, out of place in the middle of the beach.  The local children smile and laugh as they play on the edges of the water with a football or simply dive into the oncoming waves.  In the distance a boat tugs its way along the lush green coast of the nearby islands admiring the absolute natural beauty of the area.

A colourful bike on the beach in Paraty
A colourful bike on the beach in Paraty

Paraty may draw you because of its exotic location and the lure of soft white sand beaches hidden off in nearby coves; however what will keep you there is the absolute peace one feels.  It is one of those places where one could easily lose track of the time, the day, the week.  Paraty lacks the immense crowds of the more famous Brazilian beach towns, and is the perfect reprieve from whatever particular rat race you may live in.

Where to Stay in Paraty

Over the years, Paraty has turned into an extremely popular place to visit. Brazilians especially have descended on the town. It’s still sleepy, but just not as quiet as it once was. The positive is there’s lots of good accommodation now.

For me, Pousada Antígona might be the best value accommodation in town. The location is great and the vibe is really relaxed. If you have more cash, Pousada do Ouro is also excellent and has a really nice pool. Che Lagarto is a hostel chain in Brazil and they have a location in Paraty as well.