Talking of things to do and places to go around Natal boils down to talking about beaches. The beach par excellence – and the easiest southern beach to get to from Natal – is Ponta Negra, 10km out of town along the Via Costeira, linked by regular buses from the local bus station that you can also catch from the seafront. Further south, the beaches get less crowded, but access can be difficult.
Following close on the heels of Bahia’s Morro de São Paulo, Ponta Negra is one of the finest beaches in the Northeast. Running along a sweeping bay under steep sandy cliffs, it is magnificent, sheltered from Atlantic rollers, though still good for surfing. The resort crowds around the beach, and has expanded rapidly in recent years – it’s jam-packed with places to stay and often quite crowded; bars and restaurants range from trendy beach shacks to serious seafood restaurants, and there’s a constant party atmosphere. Tours and trips to more far-flung beaches, plus city tours, buggy rides and other excursions are also available. It’s a feasible day-trip from Natal, but many visitors prefer to stay here.