With Carnival just around the corner, my friends and I decided to take a relaxing weekend away before all the madness begins. We chose Paraty because it was only a few hours away and is known to be a peaceful paradise, and we were not disappointed.
Life on the road in the beautiful colonial town of Paraty
In order to get to Paraty you have a number of options; rent a car, go by bus, or book one of our reliable transfer services. As I am in a group of four, and we wanted to travel a bit while in Paraty, a car ended up being the best choice for us. Although the idea of driving through the city and for miles further in unfamiliar territory made us nervous, in reality, the journey was incredibly straightforward as we were on one main road for the majority of the journey. If you don’t want the hassle of renting a car and driving in a foreign land, then our shared transfer between Rio and Paraty is undoubtedly the way to go.
WHERE TO STAY
In Paraty there are many hostels or Airbnbs dotted all around but most are either in the historic centre or on the surrounding beaches. We, however, stayed on Jabaquara beach. A smaller neighbourhood about a 15 minute walk from the centre, sat upon the most relaxed stretch of sand. Although one of my favourite aspects of the Carioca life is its lively beach atmosphere, Jabaquara was a refreshing contrast with just a few local families paddling in the calm waves (a huge contrast to Rio’s lively seas).
In Jabaquara, and many beaches throughout Paraty, there are watersports on offer such as kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. My friends and I went kayaking from Jabaquara and were told to go around a small peer and find a deserted beach, where you can run and jump off the peer. It was idyllic, and very cheap – only 15 reais for an hour of kayaking.
Beautiful beaches and cool, tranquil waters are the order of the day in this little paradise / Image Source
WHERE TO GO DURING THE DAY
Aptly named “Slide” Falls, Toboga Falls is a huge, wide waterfall, with a relatively slow running cascade which allows visitors to slide down the flat rock beneath as if it were a slide and land in the icy cold pool below. Although not for the faint hearted as it appears daunting and fairly dangerous at first sight, it would actually be quite difficult to go wrong when sliding down. Once you’re at the top, you carefully cross the top of the waterfall in order to reach two men who are waiting for you. They instruct you on how to take up the correct position, and give you a healthy push. Although, as a spectator the experience looks relatively painful due to sliding over different levelled rocks, in reality it is totally painless. More importantly, flying into that freezing water at the end is the best way to cool off on a hot day. If this sounds like your idea of fun, take a look at our Waterfalls Jeep Tour.
After an exciting morning at the falls, we decided to go to Trinidade, a nearby beach town known for it’s relaxed hippie vibes. On arrival, we walked through the centre of town, passed countless shops and street-sellers selling artisanal jewellery and other crafts. We also stopped for some fresh seafood which was incredible and comparatively cheap than in Rio. We then walked to Meio beach where the waters are calm and cold (in comparison to the very warm water in Jabaquara) where there’s a small rock you can climb in the middle of the beach in order to get a spectacular view.
We originally went to this beach in order to get to the Cachadaço natural pool, which from Meio beach is said to be a 40-minute walk through the woods. However, after our active morning at the waterfalls, a swim and a climb up the rock we all collapsed on the beach and dozed off leaving us too tight for time to go to the natural pools. Although, I was truly disappointed to miss it as it’s known for its colourful array of fish and its crystal clear waters – I think I’ll just have to go back in order to see them!
Enjoying some classic Brazilian drinks whilst on a night out in Paraty
WHAT TO DO AT NIGHT
Paraty is not a town known for its hard-core nightlife; the main street at night is flooded with locals and tourists alike casually drinking and eating in the many restaurants and bars. There is also often live music in the main square at the weekends. However, Paraty’s tranquil atmosphere means that big nights out and nightclubs aren’t all that common. Yet, we did manage to find a few places with a great lively atmosphere.
Bar do Wagner
Bar do Wagner is a very small bar but with a huge personality in the centre of Paraty. The bar features a tiny room with DJ decks at one end and a small bar at the other. It mainly plays samba during the week and hosts a DJ night at the weekend. Due to its size, the party spills out on to the street in front where everyone either dances samba or gets lost in conversation, sometimes even with some gringos like us! It’s a casual but fun atmosphere; definitely worth a visit.
Every Thursday and Saturday night in Paraty’s docks, at the end of the peer, there is a party to the sound of forró – a Brazilian genre of music – held on one of the boats. The boat stays docked for the entirety of the night, and is always full of locals willing to teach you how to dance forró. The party goes on until 4 am and drinks are served all night. A truly authentic evening in Paraty, and for me, it was the perfect chance to practice my Portuguese!
. . .
Now, I’m back in Rio and the preparations for Carnival are just beginning: blocos every day and the decorations are already going up. The crazy Carioca atmosphere is contagious!
By: Lucy Gavan, student of Spanish and Portuguese culture at the University of Bristol in England, currently living in Rio as part of an exchange programme with Rdj4u.