The beaches of Ceará are what attract most visitors, and both east and west of Fortaleza they stretch unbroken for hundreds of kilometres. They are invariably superb, a mixture of mountainous sand dunes, palm trees and Atlantic breakers, wilder than the sheltered reef beaches of the southern states of the Northeast. The area has strong and predictable winds which, combined with good surf, means it’s a windsurfer’s paradise, and many small fishing villages now depend on the tourist dollar. Any description of the beaches becomes repetitive: they are all stunning, among the most beautiful anywhere in the world. To reach them, as a rule, you will need to get off at a town and catch a connection to the nearby coast, and the local bus network covers most places: at the better-known beaches, shoals of pick-ups and beach buggies meet the buses from Fortaleza.
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Beaches west of Fortaleza
Beaches west of Fortaleza
The choice of beaches west of Fortaleza is fabulous. Frequent buses from Fortaleza’s rodoviária head for the beach town of PARACURU, 80km from Fortaleza, which gets crowded during weekends, but is less frenetic during the week. From here, you head out of Fortaleza’s influence and the further west you go the less crowded the beaches become. A good place to head for, reasonably remote but not impossible to get to, is TRAIRI, 118km from Fortaleza, also served by direct buses from the rodoviária, which take around three hours. From here it’s a few kilometres to the beautiful and usually deserted beaches of Mundaú, protected by a 100m reef, and Fleixeiras, more deserted still. When the tide is out, you can walk for an hour along the beach to the fishing hamlet of GUAJIRU, named for the indigenous local fruit that still grows abundantly in the scrubby bushes scattered around the dunes. There is no electricity or running water, but the people are friendly and the scenery marvellous.
Ceará’s most famous beach, and arguably one of the world’s finest, JERICOACOARA is a remote hangout 320km west of Fortaleza with huge dunes of fine white sand and turquoise lagoas. Possibly Brazil’s best beach for wind and surf activities, most tour agents in Fortaleza offer packages here (see Forró: dancing and clubs). For the independent traveller, two buses a day from Fortaleza’s rodoviária (with Redençao t 85/3256-1973; R$32) cover the seven-hour journey. It’s still a primitive place, but there are plenty of spots to stay as well as several outfits renting out surfboards and windsurfing equipment. Kite-surfing (call t 88/3369-2288 and t 3669-2080 for local information on this sport) is very popular here, particularly at Praia do Prea, a small fishing village some 10km down the beach (43km by road).