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Some of the best Brazilian beaches are in Fortaleza

With its long coastline and tropical climate, Brazil has plenty of beautiful beaches. While most of best known Brazilian beaches are on the south coast, we have discovered great beaches on Brazil's north coast, in Fortaleza. The best beach here is Praia do Futuro, with fine white sand and a smattering of seaside cafés and restaurants.

Fortaleza, Brazil

Beautiful wide sandy beaches, warm South Atlantic waters, constant ocean breeze, sizzling nightlife, fantastic weather, and the continent’s liveliest sex trade. Fortaleza's nightlife is full of festivities, bars, nightclubs, restaurants and shows. If you can’t find something to like about Fortaleza, you’re in the minority.

Lagoinha Beach, Brazil
Tropical Lagoinha beach is located some 100 kms. from Fortaleza. (Image by propter)

Fortaleza was a good place to start our exploration of Brazil, given its location in the center of the country’s beautiful north coast. This is a modern city of more than 3 million people. Founded in 1610, Fortaleza serves as the capital of the state of Ceará (pronounced "seh ah RAH"). Fortaleza is an important economic center of Brazil's northeast and one of the greatest tourist centers in the country.

The city of Fortaleza breaks down into three distinct locations, representing a combination of lifestyle choices that’s pretty hard to beat: The old, original historic center and non-tourist downtown areas; a gleaming in-town stretch of beach with sizzling nightlife, great waterfront restaurants, and highrises; and quieter sections of beautiful, palm-lined, white-sand beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean.

Ideal weather for most of the year

It’s warm and dry here in Fortaleza most of the year, with temperatures perfect for lounging on the beach or swimming in the warm ocean waters. Evenings are cool and comfortable, with a pleasant ocean breeze blowing just about every day. The four-month wet season rarely produces an entire day of rain, with showers in the morning and sunny afternoons. The difference between summer and winter highs is only about two degrees Fahrenheit.

My first love here is the food. If you’re a meat lover, you’re in for a treat. One restaurant we went to had a staggering selection of 34 different meats fresh from the rotisserie, along with countless other mouthwatering items, including some that I’d never heard of before. Otherwise, seafood is king here; we enjoyed beachfront grilled lobster dinners from $7.50 per person.

A palm-fringed beach in Brazil
Brazil has some of the most fantastic beaches, no matter where you go in country.

Fortaleza beaches

There are some incredible beaches south of Fortaleza. The best known beaches here are: Porto das Dunas (with the biggest beach park in Brazil), Morro Branco (one of the most beautiful ones), Fontes, Uruaú and Canoa Quebrada (one of the most popular ones).

To be honest, I didn’t care for the beaches in the hotel district of Fortaleza, pretty as they were. Like many tourist centers, both Praia Meireles and Praia Iracema hosted what I call "aggressive" tourism, where each time you pause, there’s someone in your face trying to sell you something. I found it impossible to enjoy a drink in a seaside outdoor café, due to the constant stream of vendors, some of whom will take a seat right at your table and refuse to leave. (But the evening artisan market at Praia Meireles is well worth a visit.)

Our favorite beach was Praia do Futuro. The beach is wide, with fine white sand and a smattering of seaside cafés and restaurants, as well as fresh water showers. They even have a lifeguard on duty, keeping an eye on the safety of the bathers and kite-surfers. Praia do Futuro is a few minutes by cab from the beachfront hotel district in town.

Lee Harrison
Roving Latin America Editor, International Living

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