Falling in love with Jericoacoara

26 Apr

We’d heard rumours of pristine, deserted beaches hidden behind towering sand dunes. Whispers told of a chic village resort with streets of sand. Word had spread about the stunning coastal scenery, golden sunsets and fresh caipirinha cocktails served right on the beach. Reports buzzed about capoeira performances in the moonlight, hammocks swaying at the edge of turquoise lagoons, and perfect conditions for kite surfing and windsurfing. We were lured by the promise of a small slice of heaven and our expectations were sky high. Doubts crept in that this fabled village could ever live up to the hype. But upon arrival it was love at first sight and we knew that we’d be staying much longer than planned in Jericoacoara.

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Until around 20 years ago Jericoacoara, or Jeri as it’s tenderly called, was a small fishing village with no electricity, no running water and no phone lines. It attracted creative types, hippies and those seeking alternative lifestyles.  As word spread of this sun-soaked nirvana, more people arrived and the village doubled in size. Today’s visitors are a young crowd of hip, carefree travellers from around Brazil and all corners of the globe.

Despite apparent growth over the last decade, Jeri is far from becoming overrun with tourists. It retains both its tranquillity and beauty helped by its national park status, strict building restrictions and environmental protection laws. Its remoteness also means that only the most adventures travellers will make the 6 hour journey from Fortaleza in Brazil’s far north east, including the last hour spent on a 4×4 buggy which twists and shakes along rugged sand roads like a bucking bronco.

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The vibe in Jeri is indisputably mellow and laid back. The village consists of five sandy streets draped in colourful flowers and lined with hip eateries, boutique shops and comfortable posadas. Cars are not permitted access to the village centre adding to the slower pace of life. Jeri’s carefree, anything goes attitude makes it a great place to unwind and feel your shoulders drop. It’s easy to spend days doing nothing at all or taking advantage of the many activities on offer.

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Jeri is all about the beach and what it has to offer. In front of the village a broad strip of silver sand stretches down to shallow, warm waters. Immense dunes sweep inland to tranquil lagoons and palm trees sway in the breeze. We relaxed in hammocks with cold Skol beer and watched traditional Jangada fishing boats with colourful sails return from a day at sea with bountiful catches. When we got restless we climbed the dunes and zipped back down on sand boards. To wash the sand from our bodies we bathed in natural pools at the waters edge.

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Consistent winds between August and December have made Jeri one of the world’s top spots for windsurfing and kite boarding. Malhada Beach is a popular spot to watch people windsurfing on medium sized waves and the area next to sunset dune offers calmer waters and plenty of space for kite boarders. We watched the action from the shoreline but plenty of activity centres offer lessons and rent equipment so you can have a go yourself.

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The scenery along Jeri’s coastline is simply stunning and offers the chance to get away from it all. An easy four kilometre walk to the East of the village along rugged cliffs and secluded coves will bring you to a dramatic arched rock named Pedra Furada, possibly one of Jericoacoara’s most photographed attractions. Watch out for the incoming tide as you’re navigating rocks close to the waters edge or you too may drench your expensive camera when getting hit by a rogue wave and not actually get any photos of the rock arch!

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We spent Christmas day in Jeri. Coming from the northern hemisphere where the festive season is often spent in the freezing cold, it was a welcome change to throw on our beachwear and bask in 30 degree temperatures.

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Brazilians know how to celebrate special occasions in style and Christmas in Brazil is no different! Jeri was filled with locals and holiday makers all enjoying each other’s company, live music, great food and a fireworks display in the evening. To mark the occasion, we posed for photographs in front of neatly wrapped Christmas gifts and Papai Noel (Father Christmas) with his red and white woollen outfit.

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To get to know the surrounding area a little better we took an exhilarating one hour dune buggy ride through dazzling, otherworldly landscapes. We were rewarded with the sight of turquoise waters of Lagoa Azul & Lagoa Paraiso. These freshwater lakes are situated next to one another and share the same powdery white sand. We relaxed under umbrellas at beach side restaurants and cooled off by swinging in hammocks half submerged in water.

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From late afternoon and well into the evening, small carts appear on the beach selling delicious fresh fruit cocktails. The proud owners of these mobile bars display their names prominently on the front of their carts and each offers their own speciality. We made friends with ‘Tommy’ on Christmas day and indulged in several Caipirinha’s – a deliciously sweet blend of sugar cane, sugar and lime. They were strong enough to leave us cross eyed after the first few mouthfuls and we swayed our way back down the beach!

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The Por do Sol, the near 100 foot-high Sand Dune, is the best place to watch the sun set. This is one of the only places in Brazil where you can watch the sunset over the Atlantic. Each evening scores of people tackle the climb to its summit to see the skies turn beautiful shades of orange and purple as the sun’s burnt orange orb slides below the horizon. We stood in quiet contemplation with our fellow onlookers and let out a cheer as the final chink of sunlight disappeared.

As the village is part of the national park, street lights are prohibited, so as the evening arrives Jeri takes on a golden dream-like quality with glowing candles and fairy lights threaded through the trees. The Brazilian martial art of Capoeira, combining elements of dance, acrobatics and music, is performed each evening on the beach for free. Athletic and agile bodies kick and twist wowing their spectators. The hypnotic sounds of the berimbau (a basic string instrument) and drumming controls the pace of the movements and echo’s down the beach.

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There are bountiful options for dinner to suit every price range. Locals stroll the streets with trays filled with home baking and busy restaurants serve delicious fish and shrimp dishes. Nightlife usually gets going after midnight and we enjoyed local bands playing reggae, samba rock and electronic music.

As we stood on the beach and stared up at the night’s sky blanketed in stars, we knew we’d fallen hard for the charms of Jericoacoara. Brazil is full of beautiful beaches but this magical place had tugged at our heart strings. Our days in Jeri were not nearly long enough and had we not had a travel itinerary to stick to, we may still be there, Caipirinha in hand.

One Response to “Falling in love with Jericoacoara”

  1. infused exposures April 26, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    Eu ❤ Jeri too! Sniff sniff! You brought back a flood of good memories and I'm so excited that you guys got to spend Christmas there! How lovely! Great description of a place that will remain in all hearts that touch it! Xxoo

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