Sandy beaches against a thick, deep green backdrop. I had been told that Brazilian beaches were undeniably beautiful. Time to find out.
I was staying with a friend in Taubaté, 96k inland from Ubatuba. The Masters in Management has served him well, landing him a relocation to Brazil where he is still trying to get a feel for the language and surroundings. One place he had explored and insisted on taking me to was Ubatuba and its complex of 92 unspoilt beaches, each with a flavour of its own.
The 1 ½ hour drive took us past smooth, rolling hills covered in thick quilts of lush vegetation and swaying seas of skinny, bubble-topped paper trees. Chunks of hillside revealed rich, red earth and purple plant explosions sat snug in amongst the vast greenery.
The road started to wind down as we approached the town, tight turns, hard on the brakes. At regular intervals, people stood by their vehicles, bonnet open, car cooling.
‘The last two times I visited, its rained’, said my friend Glyn as we drove the somewhat rough and confusing streets of Ubatuba. Diversions sent us in circles through a colourful maze of cute buildings, and the occasional painted mannequin stared down at us from a balcony.
We dodged the numerous cyclists out and about, were careful to give space to the man loaded down with at least eight bin bags of rubbish hanging off of his bike. The fact you could actually see the guy was unusual, apparently, as garbage collection on bike is to be expected.
Despite being a pretty place bursting with fully saturated colour, the beach in the town itself was a narrow, steep strip of sand leading down to a dumping wave whose ferocity didn’t invite a swimming crowd. So we moved on.
A few kilometres down the road, Praia Grande not only had a shallower pitch but a far bigger stretch of actual beach along which people power walked, couples strolled hand in hand and kids learnt to surf. A lifeguard perched up in a stilted hut, keeping an eye on us as we played silly wave kicking and sand throwing games to keep ourselves entertained.
Swimming, splashing about and mermaiding on the rocks, this was a relaxed, lazy and playful day on a spacious, empty beach. Can’t complain. It felt like being on holiday. It’s understandable why Ubatuba is such a popular weekend escape for the people of Sao Paulo.
Drawn in by rhythmic music, we finished the day trip with a drink and generously portioned pastel in Quicsque Recardo Sole Mar, one of a few cafés sitting on the actual beach.
And then back up the windy road, this time into a load of mistiness that got thicker and thicker as we climbed into the clouds until we pushed right through and arrived back to a clearer sky and a striking setting sun.