Beach hopping in João Pessoa

Every beach is the same, right? Sand between your toes, cheeky palm trees and bright blue waves crashing on the beach. But can you really compare one beach to another? Doesn’t every beach have its unique beauty and story? I did some beach hopping in João Pessoa and was completely surprised by what I found.  

Jampa, also known as João Pessoa, is the capital of Parnaíba and is only a two hour drive from Recife. I can’t find much about Jampa on the internet, but my friends are enthusiastic about this city. All the good stories inspire me to get explore this city. When I started planning the trip I hesitated whether it was worth it to visit Jampa, since there is only one hostel. Often there is not a lot to see for backpackers like me in cities with only one hostel. 

Yet I took the leap and with I planned a trip to Jampa with two Dutch girls that I met on the beach in Porto de Galinhas. We leave on a Saturday morning around 8am with BlaBlaCar. Well, we intended to leave at 8am but our BlaBlaCar was cancelled half an hour before the planned ride. We still have no idea why because our driver had blocked us on WhatsApp that morning. Annoying, but unfortunately this happens often with BlaBlaCar in Brazil.

WITH BLABLACAR TO JOÃO PESSOA

Luckily we found a ride with someone via BlaBlaCar two hours later. Louvert, our driver, is born and raised in João Pessoa and basically serves as our tour guide on the road. Louvert tells us that Jampa is the greenest city in Brazil. He also boasts about all the beautiful beaches in and around Jampa. He even takes a little detour to show us the beach as we approach Jampa. 

Upon arrival we drop our stuff at the hostel and look for a place to eat, we are all starving. The temperatures are similar to the unbearable temperatures in Recife so we opt for an air conditioned pizzaria (more for the air conditioning than the pizza I must admit).

PRAIA DE TAMBAÚ

By the time we finish lunch it is already past 3pm. The sun goes down around 5pm already so we decide to hit Tambaú beach, which is less than a five minute walk from our hostel. Besides a particular round-shaped hotel that looks deserted there is not much more to see than a polluted urban beach.

Like many urban beaches, Tambaú is packed with food stalls serving fried food and caipirinhas and sun bathing Brazilians. Because of all the algae that washed up and stayed in the sun all day the smell at the beach isn’t great either. 

DAY TRIPS IN JOÃO PESSOA

We return to our hostel feeling a little disappointed. But, around Praia de Tambaú there are a lot of nice places to eat or drink in the evening, for example along the boulevard or in the food park. It is also a good place to party until the sun goes up. 

That night we discover there are three fun day trips in João Pessoa: a day trip to the historic center,  Literal del Norte or Litoral del Sul. In the historic centre you find mostly colonial buildings. The historical centre is located quite far from Tambaú and there is not a lot going on in the weekends. In the North you will find more urban beaches, but also forts, an island and a bright yellow sand plain. Both day trips are easy to do without a tour and can be reached by Uber or bus. Check the bus routes with application Cittamobi.

The South is more known for its breathtaking beaches that Louvert had told us about on the way. These beaches are easiest to visit with a tour with a typical tourist bus that will take you from one beach to the other. A day at the beach never disappoints and we were promised to visit a pageant winning beach called Praia de Coqueirinho. Therefore we decide to do a little beach hopping along Litoral del Sul. 

PRAIA DE COQUEIRINHO

The next morning we are picked up at the hostel around 8:30am. After less than an hour’s drive we arrive at the first destination: Praia de Coqueirinho. We get out of the van with a gringa-proof layer of sunscreen. It is only half past 9, but the heat already slaps us in the face when the door of the van opens. We struggle our way through Brazilian beach clubs with the smell of fried food decorated with plastic furniture. By the time we manage to get through the Brazilian crowd we start our quest to a more peaceful stretch of beach. 

The sand burns the bottom of my feet. The sun blinds me for a moment, but soon my gaze fell on the clear water of the sea that violently hits a collection of rocks. The rocks are on the corner of a bay. I hope to find a deserted beach on the other side of these rocks but as it turns out I have to be a little more patient. On the other side of the rocks it is packed with people who dragged their entire kitchen equipment to the beach to spend their days with a full belly. 

We make our way through to a somewhat deserted end of the beach where we spot a palmtree offering shade and a ‘lion king’ like rock. After a quick dip in the strong currents of the ocean we collected the courage to climb our way towards the rock. The view is incredibly beautiful from this point: on one side we see a rainbow of parasols and on the other unique rock formations covered with all kinds of flora and white deserted beaches.

MINI HIKE PRAIA DE COQUEIRINHO

From behind the rock a path runs along the cliff overlooking all beaches in this area. The paths are narrow and we will probably be hit by a branch or two along the way. But the beautiful viewpoints over the beaches and the yellow and red rock formations are worth it. We hardly encounter anyone along the way, only a group of Brazilians who passed by at some point in buggies sipping on a glass of prosecco. After an hour of hiking and sweating we arrive at the last beach and we cannot wait to jump in the sea and cool off. 

But we have to be a little more patient because we took the wrong turn and we are on the edge of a private area. The only access to the beach from this point is through a river with an odd blueish color. The river is surprisingly deep and reeks so we really do not want to get. Thirsty for the ocean we go back up. When we reach the sea we immediately jump into the water where the salt from the sweat on our skin is replaced by the salt of the sea. Not much later we walk back along the beach to the Brazilian beach club. Our guide picks us up here and takes us to the next beach.

PRAIA TAMBABA

Praia Tambaba is less than a 15 minutes’ drive from Praia de Coqueirinho. Half of Praia Tambaba is accessible to everyone, the other side only to people who dare to take off their swimsuits. The two sides are separated by natural rock formations and connected by stairs. If you have the courage to climb the stairs to peak at the naked side of Tambaba you are stopped by an old man who kindly asks you to undress. Sometimes I prefer to keep things for my imagination so I decide to stay on the clothed side. Praia Tambaba is full of pitch-black rocks, one of which has a cheerful palm tree on top. There are also natural pools between the rocks where you can relax and recognise all kinds of shapes in the rocks

PRAIA DO AMOR

The last stop is Praia do Amor. Praia do Amor translates to the beach of love. This beach is partly covered with rocks, of which one rock is shaped like a tunnel. Legend is that if you walk through this tunnel you will find the love of your life. Naturally I squirm my way through this tunnel hoping the partner of my dreams would be waiting for me on the other end. Please forgive me but because of the suspension I forgot to take a photo. But who knows, maybe a blog about love abroad appears on Travelies soon! 

A little sunburned (even 8 different types of sunscreen don’t do the trick for me) but mostly satisfied we return to Recife. I think it’s a shame that João Pessoa is underestimated because it’s an interesting city surrounded by beautiful beaches. I must have seen at least five different beaches today and all of them have their own beauty and story. Are you still convinced every beach is the same? 

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