I’ve been gushing about our trip to Paraty for two weeks, but I promise this is the last time. It’s amazing that we saw so much and made such a connection to the place in just three short days.
These are just the odd bits and pieces that didn’t fit into the other posts, some logistical information for those looking to travel to Paraty and others just to satisfy my need to wax poetic about how wonderful it was.
Bit #1 – Where we stayed
Finding a fancy place to stay in Paraty wasn’t a top priority since we knew the majority of our time would be spent outside exploring the islands. We stayed at Pousada Magia Verde, a bit outside of downtown Paraty, but within a ten minute drive of nearly everything we needed.
We had no major complaints about the cute guest house. Magia Verde translates to green magic, and the grounds were certainly lush and tropical.
Our room was nice and clean and the staff was friendly and accommodating, dealing rather well with our poor portuguese. Breakfast every morning was served out by the pool overlooking a creek, which was a nice way to start the day.
We did have a few slight issues, confusion over housekeeping resulting in our room never being cleaned and a broken air conditioner that, even when off, sang us a full, squealing opera most of our last night there.
One thing about pousadas is that there’s usually not a 24-hour front desk to complain to when things are amiss. But none of that really got under our skin. Because really, Paraty is more about the outdoors than anything else.
Bit #2 – Paraty’s local beach gets a bad rap
When we spoke to Brazilian friends about visiting Paraty, they often looked a bit concerned. “Yeah, but the beach isn’t very nice there,” we heard many times. Though they did admit that the islands and beaches nearby were great. But I’m from Oklahoma, a landlocked U.S. state, and any beach is pretty damn exciting to me.
In my opinion, Jabaquara Beach is quite lovely. During our final hour in Paraty, we stopped by the local strip of sand to find a quiosque to grab lunch and a few final views. So glad we did!
While I agree it’s not even close to the nicest beach we encountered in Paraty, it had a certain amount of charm and a cool laid back vibe. It was also a gorgeous day with clear skies and little wind, which didn’t hurt at all. Don’t count this beach out if you’re traveling to Paraty.
Bit #3 – My favorite Paraty memory
Saturday night, we took the dog to downtown Paraty for dinner. We had to leave him during our boat trip and figured he needed to stretch his legs. It was a cool night, so most of the restaurants weren’t really serving dinner outside. After wandering past several bustling spots, we decided to eat at Banana da Terra at the one lone table sitting outside on the cobblestone. Apparently we have a penchant for eating in very isolated circumstances.
For some, this might have been the making for an unpleasant evening. It was nearly cold and I was the stupid tourist wearing a sun dress. We didn’t get to eat at the place we had planned. The cobble stones made the small table sit a little unevenly and the chairs were far from comfortable.
And yet, this dinner was perhaps one of my favorite memories from Paraty. It was quiet enough on the street to be romantic, but still enough people milling about that it wasn’t spooky. We were even visited by an elf with a crystal ball, aka a Chilean backpacker with pretty eyes and excellent ball handling skills (insert your own joke here). The food turned out to be really good, and we were able to take our time sipping wine and talking about how much we were enjoying Paraty.
While we were eating, we kept hearing the unmistakable sound of a marching band all around us. Turns out, we were in the middle of a Festa do Divino celebration, an annual religious festival. After dinner, we took in some of the festivities.
In travel, as in life, you have all of these ideas and plans of how to make the trip perfect. But I’m learning that it’s the unexpected, even slightly inconvenient moments that really make an impact. We didn’t set out to travel to Paraty and have chilly dinner on a deserted street to the sounds of a marching band, but it couldn’t have been a better night.
Bit #4 – Basic Paraty travel information
So, after all this raving, maybe you’re thinking of planning a trip to Paraty yourself?
How to get there
There is no airport in Paraty, making it somewhat difficult to access, but also probably helping to preserve its beauty.
You can drive to Paraty from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. We made the trip from a city four hours outside of Sao Paulo. It was a bit terrifying, but worth it.
From Rio, you can and take a bus for $30 USD or less, leaving the scary drive to someone else. The ride will likely take about four hours. Buses from Sao Paulo are around the same price and take around six hours. It may be a bit out-of-the-way, but I promise you won’t regret the effort.
Paraty offers everything from hostels, to cheap pousadas (guest houses, similar to an American bed and breakfast) with private rooms to luxury vacation houses on the water, depending on your budget. There aren’t any big name hotels, which in my opinion just adds to the charm. My favorite source for finding pousadas has been Booking.com, they show a good variety of price ranges and have honest reviews.
Seafood is everything in this fishing town, but you’ll find a wide variety of cuisines from Lebanese to Italian and of course Brazilian. Most pousadas worth booking will offer a free breakfast, which is a great way to save money and meet other travelers.
For lunch, try Dadico’s or Bambubar if you’re on the water. In town, there are several per kilo options (the Brazilian version of a buffet). You can also have a more formal meal in the colonial downtown area. There are also about a dozen quiosques lining the shore of Jabaquara Beach that offer great dining with a view.
Dinner can be a hot dog or pastel from a street vendor, or a more fancy affair. We dined at Voila Bistrot (delicious, but I highly recommend a reservation to make sure they’re open) and the aforementioned Banana de Terra, which was an accidental find but very good.
Paraty is a truly unique experience, and one I highly recommend adding to your travel to-do list!