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Ecological Route:

a hidden paradise in Alagoas

Rachel Verano

Fernanda Frazão, Anna Carolina Negri, Getty Images, Publicity

From São Miguel dos Milagres to Porto de Pedras, near the capital of Alagoas, the vacation atmosphere lasts all year round, the sun is always out and peace and quiet are guaranteed. Get to know the loveliest little corners in this green portion of Northeast Brazil

 

Between the estuaries of the Camaragibe and Manguaba rivers, on the northern shore of Alagoas, lies a stretch of Brazil's coast where the ocean water is hot and clear, the landscape is framed by coconut trees and it's still possible to go for miles without seeing a soul. A place where the full moon rises on the sea and manatees swim free. Where large, colorful houses share the few vestiges of civilization with town squares where public TV sets are in high demand when the telenovelas are on. A Northeast where the inns have hot tubs, bungalows with private pools and decks with lounge chairs (with caipirinhas made with key lime or lemongrass at the snap of your fingers). Where the restaurants serve platters of seafood and fish encrusted with ground nuts. Some chilled wine to go with it? Always. We traveled the most charming 12-mile [20 km] stretch of the Ecological Route, part of an environmental protection area on the Coral Coast, and we surveyed all its secrets. Not to mention the natural pools – an added bonus in these parts.

 

Private paradises

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São Miguel dos Milagres

The ocean is stunning and cars can drive directly onto the beach, which means bigger crowds. The beach is also the starting point for excursions.

Praia do Toque

Well-preserved, it has still waters and is almost always empty. Rafts transport people to the lovely natural pools that form roughly 0.6 miles [1 km] from the beach at low tide.

Porto da Rua

This is one of the few beaches in the region with an infrastructure (beach bars and plain restaurants).

 

Main attractions

 

1. Restaurante do Enildo

Plain and simple, they have tables scattered across the sand, cool coconut water and famous soups.

Travessa Nelson Leão Piraná, Porto da Rua

 

2. Pousada da Amendoeira

Rooms with hot tubs, hammocks in the garden, massages by the sea. The restaurant specializes in natural, healthy food, no fatty or fried options – which is not to say tasteless. The rice noodles in lemongrass, coconut and chili pepper broth with shrimp are proof positive.

 

3. Restaurante No Quintal

Tired of the hustle and bustle of São Paulo, physical therapists Renata and Lucas Nogueira left it all behind and opened this cute little restaurant serving such delights as grilled crayfish in herb butter with whipped pumpkin and ginger and breadcrumb farofa.

Street that accesses Praia do Toque

 

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4. Pousada Casa Acayu

Here, there's no set time for breakfast (or small lunch, for the Portuguese owners). There are bicycles and a pool at guests' disposal, as well as a restaurant with recipes inspired by Portugal. What do you say to some cod au gratin with almond rice? Or seafood stew?

 

5. Pousada do Toque

A pioneer in the region, it has bungalows with feather pillows and lazy hammocks on the veranda. One of them has a sauna, hydromassage and private pool. They make some of the best caipirinhas in the region and have a great restaurant with a sushi bar (which requires reservations).

 

Lobster on the high sea

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Praia de Tatuamunha

Also known as Jibaba, this beach is pure relaxation. There's hardly a soul as far as the eye can see. Head for the mouth of the Tatuamunha River.

Praia da Laje

This beautiful beach is shaped like a half-moon and protected by a barrier of coral. It's the place where rafts leave for the natural pools.

 

Main attractions

 

1. Excursion to natural pools

Right on the high sea, surrounded by pools of transparent emerald-green water, you can enjoy fresh grilled lobster and fish served in banana leaves.Departures from Praia da Laje, prices negotiated at the time of ticket purchase.

 

2. Pousada Aldeia Beijupirá

The enormous pool is just steps from the ocean. The restaurant is the best in the region with an array of treats for breakfast, including couscous, three cheeses of different textures, lavender jam, toast with quail eggs and more. At dinner, you can try such creations as the camarulu (shrimp in sugar mill honey and rice made with passion fruit from the backyard).

 

3. Pousada Borapirá

The location is ideal for anyone traveling with children: right on the sand at a stretch of shore that's usually dry, where the water barely covers your feet and kids can run free. The bars with colorful doors and thatch roofs have verandas with hammocks and lounge chairs.

 

4. Manatee-watching excursion

The docile sea creatures can weigh up to 1,300 pounds [600 kg] and measure up to 13 feet [4 m]. They're easy to spot on trips to the mouth of the Tatuamunha River, often coming close and even leaning against the boat. Be sure to make reservations in advance.

 

The world on the beach

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Praia do Patacho

Consistently voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil and loved by Brazilians from different parts of the country, at low tide it has a walkable path miles seaward to natural pools formed in between coral reefs.

 

Main attractions

 

1. Peixada da Marinete

Make sure to bring your patience, since the wait can be long. With plain décor, the house earned fame with its specialty: the tree crab frittata. The fried mullet is also really tasty.

Rua Coronel Avelino Cunha, 310, Porto de Pedras

 

2. Pousada Patacho

Also known as the French inn (because of the owner's nationality), it recalls the elegant houses of Provence. At the restaurant, anyone looking for a private dinner to celebrate a special occasion can commission the chef.

 

3. Casas do Patacho

Michael de Carvalho Clifford, an Englishman who's in love with Brazil, has become a sort of ambassador for this stretch of shore and he has three houses for rent that are pure charm. Ideal for families or groups of friends.

 

The best of Maceió

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Good diving

In the capital of Alagoas, the point of entry to the Coral Coast for arriving flights, the beachside area is beautiful and the shore is lined with coconut trees. The best and most beautiful urban beaches are the neighboring Ponta Verde and Pajuçara, which have calm waters and are protected by coral reefs.

 

The fever of beach bars

Going to the beach in Maceió is synonymous with going to a beach bar. Always busy, they have everything from gourmet menus and lounge chairs to DJs and catamarans that sail back and forth from natural pools. On the city's shore, the best-loved bars are Lopana and Kanoa, located at Ponta Verde. Farther north you'll find other famous bars that draw flocks of visitors in the summer. Inside the Angra de Ipioca condominium, Hibiscus offers massages, while the more alternative Milk has a lovely garden.

 

Authentic Peruvian

Long before the fever for ceviche spread all over Brazil, chef Simone Bert was preparing choice recipes which she learned from her Peruvian mother-in-law. In addition to the ceviches and tiraditos, Wanchako also has great dishes made with octopus and fish.

 

 

LATAM has direct flights to Maceió from São Paulo, Brasília and Rio de Janeiro.