Natal is one of the biggest cities in the North of Brazil. It is a typical large South American city, with a lot of traffic, malls and skyscrapers. The city doesn’t have a spectacular center or any must see historical sights. What it has, is a large beach front, a couple of pretty good surf spots and the best part: lots of dunes.
Therefore besides surfing and sun bathing (if weather allows, we sadly had a lot of rain), book a dune buggy tour. The dunes are located in the north of the city and they are a spectacular sight.
We are no supporters of beach buggy tours, but there is simply no other way of getting to the dunes, the hidden beaches and the lagoons. While the buggies aren’t good for the environment, at least they didn’t come up with the idea to build streets or hotels in that area yet …. hopefully it stays like that. The tour goes quite long (4-6 hours) and you will have enough time to stay at the beaches, take amazing photos and marvel at the landscape. The cost of this tour was 15€ per person, which after doing the trip, we would say is a pretty good price for what you get to see.
Where to stay at? The best choice seems to be Ponta Negra, as most hostels are located in that area and that’s where you find a 4km long beachfront. Expect to pay 15€ for a dorm bed and around 20€ a night for a private (if you choose one of the smaller hostels). Unless you are a passionate surfer, we wouldn’t recommend staying longer in Natal than 3 days. Even if you are into surfing there are many other spots on the coastline that offer good waves too and probably a nicer atmosphere than the big and messy city of Natal.
Located directly at the beach, 3 hours South of Fortaleza, lies the sleepy hippy town of Canoa Quebrada. At least it was very sleepy during our stay in March/April 2020. Probably that’s not always the case, at least the amount of restaurants in the town center makes you think that it can also be quite the opposite at times. But we don’t know that for sure.
The reason to visit Canoa Quebrada isn’t the town-center anyways, it is the beach. Canoa Quebrada has a very long coastline that you can walk along for hours. Depending on the tide and the hour of the day, the water can be everything, from very calm, to waves big enough for surfing. One of the best spots at the beach is a reggae bar. The music, the beach, the atmosphere invites you to disconnect and relax.
There are not many hostels in Canoa Quebrada, you will most probably either have to go for a hotel or a guest house. Prices can vary, but expect to pay around 20€ for a private room.