Espírito Santo, a compact combination of mountains and beaches, is one of the smallest states in Brazil (with a population of only 2.6 million), but as Minas Gerais’ main outlet to the sea it is strategically very important. More iron ore is exported through its capital, Vitória, than any other port in the world. Not surprisingly the preponderance of docks, rail yards and smelters limits the city’s tourist potential, despite a fine natural location. To a mineiro, Espírito Santo means only one thing: beaches. During weekends and holiday seasons, people flock to take the waters, tending to concentrate on the stretch immediately south of Vitória, especially the large resort town of Guarapari. The best beaches, however, lie on the strip of coastline 50km south of Guarapari, and in the north of the state, heading towards Bahia.

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