Natal

Pipa Beach in Natal

Natal is one of the most beautiful cities in the northeast of Brazil, with tropical beaches, coconut trees, palms and many sand dunes.  The weather is essentially 30C year round, all day and all night!    There is a constant wind that blows from the Atlanic ocean that will keep you cool during your stay.  The wind is constant like a fan, and unlike any of the other cities in the Northeast.   That breeze makes being at the equator extremely confortable.  The few days of the year the wind dies down, it becomes a talking point because it becomes so much hotter than normal.

 


The northeast of Brazil is where you will find warmer waters, tropical climates year round, and also the most affordability.  Natal is considered the most expensive city in the northeast, however compared with the rest of the country, Natal is still one of the cheapest places to live.  Overall Natal has plenty of natural beauty, beaches and tidal pools are everywhere and of course their famous dune buggy tours, which take people up and down the coast, visiting a variety of remote locations on day trips.

 

Natal is also the closest point to both Europe and Africa from both South and North America, which allows direct flights from Portugal.   Natal has the 2nd cleanest air in the world (aside from Antartica) and the 2nd most sun light hours per year, just behind Athens, Greece.   

 

Heavy advertising in Europe has brought over many European investors and tourists which have helped greatly in improving the tourism infrastructure.   Safety is a concern, however the primary tourist areas of Ponta Negra and the city of Pipa are safe, but still loaded with petty theives looking for cell phones or other easily obtained items.  

Tourism over all is a big industry in Natal, and it is one of the most saught after destinations in Brazil, for Brazilians.  The climate, beaches, food and costs all draw in plenty of tourists each year.

 

Real estate developers in Natal have built a very large number of apartments directed towards investors and international tourism.  These places are small at 50sq/m or roughly 500sq/f but they have just enough room for the occasional visitor.  They also all tend to face the water, so they get a constant breeze and an amazing view.   Prices have been coming down in recent years, while the Real versus USD and Euro has also been devaluing, making these properties far more affordable.   Many people use these apartments for part time retirement, coming down for 3-6 months of they year to enjoy the warm weather climate.

 

Natal Environment

Natal has some of the cleanest air in the world, with most of it blowing over directly from Africa via the Atlantic ocean, the breeze is around the clock and makes AC in most places unnecessary.  Everyone visiting Natal, including myself, said it would be impossible to survive without AC; however, I haven't used AC in years.  It's simply not necessary and everyone else I have met has come to the same conclusion.  The constant breeze makes the environment extremely pleasant to be in.  

 

Almost all of the homes and buildings are designed to allow for constant airflow through them, with shutters that are built permanently open, and open passage ways above interior doors to promote airflow.  Since the climate never changes much in Natal, this is possible and part of the culture of living outdoors while being indoors.  Many areas are simply open to the outdoors in homes and businesses because being inside is essentially the same as being outside, except there is no direct sunshine.   Homes were never built with any insulation or intention of being cooled with AC.

 

Rain is usually not an issue in Natal, with storm lasting a few hours at most, with everything drying within 30 minutes of the rain stopping.  The tropical heat evaporates all the water extremely quickly, so even during the most harsh tropical storms, everything will dry out within a very short time frame. 

 

There is a rainy season, where rain can come for several days at a time, which is from June to August, which also coincides with the winter months in the southern hemisphere.  The rain can be relentless during this time, but often dune buggy tours still operate by simply taking visitors far enough up the coast that they circumvent the clouds.   The weather during the winter months is also slightly cooler, but in general this temperature swing is only 2-3C.

 

Natal Tourism

The tourism industry has exploded in Natal, and one of the most popular tourism activities are the dune buggy tours.  These tours start out in Natal and go out into the dunes surrounding the city and take visitors to various interesting areas and activities setup throughout the area, specifically for these tours.  There are several different dune buggy tours available in Natal, but all of the operators are government regulated and must follow a specific path for each tour.   These tours end up going through ecologically protected areas and even private property, so only licensed tour operators can take you on these tours.  The tours are a lot of fun, and highly recommended.   They aren't your regular city tour, and they include a lot of fun activities along the way.  

 

Ponta Negra

Ponta Negra is the primary destination for visitors to Natal, the area follows the coast line for roughly 4km up and down Ponta Negra beach.  The best hotels in Natal are situated in this neighbourhood, along with many family owned pousadas and smaller hotels.  Most hotels and pousadas are within a 5 minute walking distance to the beach, allowing tourists with easy access up and down the full length of the beach.

 

The beach has plenty of umbrellas with chairs that can be rented for R$15-$25, with the fees being waived if a certain amount of food or beverages is consumed.  Confirm with the owner the prices before sitting down, and remember that each owner only has roughly 5-10 umbrellas.  Most of the food is fairly expensive, however the drinks are a fairly standard price for Natal.  Food vendors will come along constantly offering up a variety of different local treats.  They are usually R$3-$10 each and a great way to taste the local foods.  It is acceptable to purchase these foods while renting the umbrellas, so don't feel compelled to order foods off the menus the umbrella owners are pushing.  Typical dishes include Cocada (A coconut based dessert), Shrimp, Friend Cheese, Corn on the cob, Crepes, Meat skewers, and Ice Cream.

 

The beach is well lit at night and a wonderful place to walk along.  It is a safe place, but be mindful of your belongings, there are plenty of opportunists out there that will take advantage of you.  Do not bring smart phones, as they are a huge target.  With import taxes in Brazil coming out to nearly 100% and with the low wages, your cell phone will likely be valued at roughly R$3000, or up to 5 months of wages.  They are extremely expensive items in Brazil and primary targets of thieves.

 

Pipa

Pipa is a very small tourist city about a 2 hours bus or car ride from Natal, and mostly populated by foreigners who have moved to Brazil.  It is a wonderful city to visit, with it's own beaches and tourism industry.   One of the buggy tour destinations is Pipa and the bay of dolphins.   It is a worth while place to visit if you are spending some time in Natal, but it will consume an entire day getting to and back from Pipa.  If you're only in Natal for a short period, it might be worth taking a dune buggy tour out to Pipa.  The tour doesn't give you a lot of time in Pipa, but will allow you to get a good feel for the area and to enjoy a good meal at the beach, while also enjoying a buggy tour up the coast.  The tour also incorporates a small river crossing, which is only accessible by 4x4's or dune buggies.   The normal route to Pipa requires going up the main highway and then roughly an hour drive back to the coast along a winding road.

Barra de Maxaranguape Beach in Natal
Barra de Maxaranguape Beach in Natal
Carnatal
Carnatal
Pipa Beach in Natal
Pipa Beach in Natal
Dunas de Jacumã
Dunas de Jacumã
Felipe Camarao Palace - Natal Historic Center
Felipe Camarao Palace - Natal Historic Center
Jacumã Beach in Natal
Jacumã Beach in Natal
Natal - Praia do Forte
Natal - Praia do Forte
Surfing - Praia do Amor - Pipa - RN - Brazil
Surfing - Praia do Amor - Pipa - RN - Brazil
Natal - Barra de Cunhaú Beach
Natal - Barra de Cunhaú Beach
Buzios Beach in Natal
Buzios Beach in Natal
Natal - Praia do Forte
Natal - Praia do Forte
Igreja do Galo - Natal Historic
Igreja do Galo - Natal Historic
São Miguel do Gostoso Beach in Natal
São Miguel do Gostoso Beach in Natal
Natal - Parque Ecológico de Jenipabu
Natal - Parque Ecológico de Jenipabu
Trekking at Santuario Ecologico de Pipa
Trekking at Santuario Ecologico de Pipa
Tibau do Sul Beach in Natal
Tibau do Sul Beach in Natal