Published October 2019
Most tours will certainly take you to Pipa or Genipabu, on the outskirts of Natal. But you don’t need to leave the capital to enjoy the sun. In addition to Ponta Negra, the most famous, there are six beaches on the city’s coast. Next, check out the urban beaches in Natal that deserve a visit, from north to south:
One of the city’s postcard sights, Ponte Newton Navarro crosses the Potengi River to lead to this old fishing village. As such, there are no skyscrapers: the neighborhood still has the simple houses of yore. Before burying your feet in the sand, filled with beach umbrellas and docked boats, explore Rua Francisco Ivo to see the two structures dedicated to Our Lady of Navigators: the blue and white chapel, overlooking the ocean, as tradition dictates; and the church, made of coral reef rocks.
Eating out: The region has such a live history that it maintains the Rio Grande do Norte table customs, like the shrimp served at the beach kiosks (the Potengi River was named after the crustacean known as ‘poti’ by the Tupis) and the ginga with tapioca, fried fish served in manioc starch at Mercado Público da Redinha.
Mercado Público da Redinha: Rua Francisco Ivo
Named after the Forte dos Reis Magos, a historical structure built by the Portuguese. Its calm waters are inviting, as they form natural pools among the coral reef. It’s also a great place for windsurfing thanks to the constant winds.
Forte dos Reis Magos: Avenida Presidente Café Filho, 1
Eating out: As it’s far from the city center, there aren’t many restaurants around. The tip is to head to one of the kiosks, which serve great seafood, coconut water, and cold beer.
This strip of sand in the north of the city extends from Praia do Meio to Praia dos Artistas. Formerly the most touristy beach in the city, it’s currently the most popular among locals. Many people go there on the last day of the year to make their offerings to the ocean close to the Yemaya statue. The place has been drawing attention as a tourist attraction once again thanks to the construction of a boardwalk and sports areas.
Eating out: Across the avenue, there are luncheonettes and popular restaurants. Another option are the vendors on the sidewalk of Avenida Café Filho, which flanks the shoreline.
Even though it shares its stretch of sand with Praia do Meio, this beach is closer to the city center. As such, it’s a famous bathing spot that pleases all tastes: those looking for peace can head to a quieter stretch; athletes will find groups of surfers and people playing ball; and, at night, excitement takes over with drink vendors and clubs playing forró. Eating out Across from the beach, Centro de Artesanato da Praia dos Artistas is a great place to find souvenirs and local handicrafts. In addition, you can try northeastern foods there, like cuscuz and carne de sol tapioca. At Casa do Matuto, they have live forró and comedy performances.
Eating out: Across from the beach, Centro de Artesanato da Praia dos Artistas is a great place to find souvenirs and local handicrafts. In addition, you can try northeastern foods there, like cuscuz and carne de sol tapioca. At Casa do Matuto, they have live forró and comedy performances.
Centro de Artesanato da Praia dos Artistas: Avenida Presidente Café Filho, 1160
Casa do Matuto: Avenida Presidente Café Filho, 700
In a residential, noble region of the city, it’s an extensive beach with dark-colored sands. It attracts tourists thanks to the sign that reads ‘Natal’; a sundial; and Farol da Mãe Luiza, further south, right before the beach disappears behind Parque das Dunas.
City’s sign: Avenida Governador Silvio Pedroza, 250
Sundial: Praça do Relógio de Sol
Farol da Mãe Luiza: Alto das Dunas da Mãe Luiza
Eating out: Mostly residential, the area has few restaurants. However, there are several kiosks on the beach where you can hydrate or have a snack.
Famous among tourists, this beach is a mainstay of travel guides. In the south, some 8.5 miles [14 km] from the city center, it’s known for its beauty and scenery that reveals Morro do Careca, the most famous dune in the Rio Grande do Norte capital (warning: because of erosion, climbing is not allowed).
Morro do Careca: Praia de Ponta Negra
Eating out: Due to its tourist appeal, it has several bars, restaurants, and commercial centers. The suggestions certainly lead to Camarões Potiguar, which serves several seafood recipes. There’s also the tapioca house Casa de Taipa and the Brazilian menu at Aloha Beach Club. Meanwhile, Old Five serves drinks on the sand.
Camarões Potiguar: Rua Pedro Fonseca Filho, 8887
Casa de Taipa: Avenida Praia de Ponta Negra, 8868
Aloha Beach Club: Rua Erivan França, 184
Old Five: Rua Erivan França, 230