Published on April 30th, 2012 | by Laura Y
Perfecting Relaxation in Paraty, Brazil
Visiting Brazil is a rush. From the endless attractions of Rio de Janeiro, to the gushing jungle falls in Iguazu, and over 8,514,877 square kilometers to explore (Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country), it’s important to schedule some downtime during a Brazil vacation. And if you need to relax, Paraty is perfect.
Paraty is a seaside colonial hideaway halfway between the Brazilian giants of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. A tiny and charming cobblestoned historic center serves world-class fare among whitewashed colonial buildings, while just steps away crayon-colored boats float in the harbor. Beyond them an inviting scattering of tropical islands dot the ocean like emeralds on a shimmering sapphire sheet.
Over 300 regional beaches and 65 islands surround this UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the town itself is free from distractions. Lounging and leisurely strolling are the main in-town activities. I spent my time in Paraty perusing tempting boutiques like Sobral, a hand-made Brazilian jewelry line featuring bright colors that blend Bohemian and chic designs. I also peeked in Cachaçaria Cana Caiana, which resembles an old western county store with wooden walls containing thousands of bottles of local liquors.
Close to the bridge spanning the river and connecting colonial Paraty to the section surrounding Pontal Beach, the intimate Restaurante Porto has tickled the taste buds and won praise from both New York Times and Conde Nast travel writers (it once made the list of the world’s 100 best restaurants). Another tasty option is Sorveteria Italiana Miracolo, where I personally promise the pasta will not disappoint. Many of the restaurants open in the late afternoon, though if you wait for dusk you’ll enjoy a meal by candlelight or soft lighting, which creates cozy shadows that flicker between the modern-day and the colonial past.
When you’ve visited all the colonial churches and historic buildings you can handle and you’re properly rested, take a trip to one of the numerous natural attractions surrounding Paraty. An island-hopping boat tour of the bay and its islands allows you to enjoy the scenery from the sea, as well as swim and sunbathe at several island beaches. A day-trip to nearby stunning white sand beaches, such as Trindade or Sono Beach, is another bathing suit worthy option.