Someone once said to me before I flew to Brazil that this is a country that ‘gets into your soul’. When I arrived at the beautiful beach of Praia do Lagoinha – a beautiful destination that’s ideal for a honeymoon – I could certainly see why.
The perfect honeymoon in my mind, delivers that all-encompassing far-flung feel. It has to present an abundance of authentic local culture. But it must also serve loved up couples a generous slice of luxury too.
As I found out, the slightly less trodden state of Ceará in Brazil balances all three rather well. And as you’re about to find out, it provides that fantastic post-wedding adventure that newlyweds are often looking for.
Your fill of culture in Fortaleza
Once you’ve enjoyed a comfortable Business Class flight into Fortaleza with TAP Portugal, take a couple of days there to enjoy a city stopover. Two to three days provides just the right amount of time to enjoy the colourful culture of Brazil’s fifth city before you head up the coast. You can also add on a night or two at the end of your trip before you fly home.
While you’re in Ceará’s capital, check out the Metropolitan Cathedral of Fortaleza. You’ll soon see, the town planning in Fortaleza is a confused but beguiling mismatch. So alongside sprawling favelas (where the government is currently helping move residents to more secure homes) and ramshackle roadside shacks, you have colourful colonial buildings, soaring apartment blocks, new shopping malls and then this Neo-Gothic cathedral.
Its exterior is spotted with black stains caused by the humidity. But once inside, the vast echoey space of this church is staggering.
Nearby, the mass of concrete that forms the Central Market is at first unalluring. But once inside, the Mercado Central de Fortaleza presents stalls-upon-stalls of leather shoes, souvenirs and local wares. Pick up some cachaça and cashews – some of Brazil’s biggest exports. And get your best haggling hat on – there are bargains to be had here.
Beach-wise, Fortaleza has some fantastic options. Praia do Futuro Beach, further south, is famous for its surf and for being in the eponymous film. But Iracema, or Mucuripe beach are also local favourites.
It’s by Irasema, that you’ll find the main throng of tourists and the more upmarket hotels and restaurants of Avenue Beira Mar. The north east coast of Brazil are mad for shrimps. So drop into Coco Bambu where you can order a mountain of these juicy crustaceans for an excellent price.
Try one of their paella-like rice dishes or the regional coconut-rich Moqueca shrimp stews. The Camaroes Internacional – a creamy and delicious rice and shrimp dish – is hard to resist too, even in the tropical weather. Wash it down with a bottle of chilled Skol (their local beer) or agua de coco. Because you should eat like kings and queens on your honeymoon.
While you’re here, explore the history of the beach. Afterall, Iracema was a romantic novel written by the Portuguese Jose de Alencar in the mid 1800s. It was named after an indigenous Indian lady named Iracema who fell in love with a Portuguese colonist. The legend has become a strong part of Ceará’s history and you’ll find the Iracema statue on the beachfront today.
Check out the spot where the FIFA Fun Fest was hosted during the World Cup. At night, this area comes alive with beachfront stalls, open-air night clubs and the pier known as The English Bridge, is a lovely spot for walking along. Don’t have any valuables on display as tourists are often targeted in and around Fortaleza. But Brazilians know how to party, so have your wits about you and you’ll have a fantastic time. If you’re here during Brazil’s June festivals, you might catch a glimpse of the region’s waltz-like folk dancing known as forró. Fortaleza is known as the capital of forró and you and your hubby might find yourself getting asked to join in!
For more on Fortaleza, Read: 10 Things to Do in Fortaleza on Oh So London.
After your city stopover in Fortaleza, a 30km drive up the coast takes you to the fishing village of Cumbuco. And like Fortaleza, there’s an ‘edgy’ and unpolished vibe that reminds you you’re in a less developed corner of Brazil. But there’s something about the less-tourist-trodden factor that gives the area a ‘real’ and beguiling charm.
From Cumbuco, you can access two key paradise beaches:
Jericoacoara – It’ll take you a long 260km (four hour) drive to reach Jericoacoara. But it’ll be so worth it as this back-to-basics fishing village is one of the most romantic spots in the whole of Brazil’s coastline. Stay at Vila Galé Cumbuco and they sometimes take group trips here.
Praia do Lagoinha – If you read A Bliss-Out Brazil Honeymoon Part 1, you’ll know this beach is breathtaking. Around an hour’s drive from Cumbuco, you’ll find locals snoozing in hammocks, a boho vibe and rolling Atlantic waves.
We made our base at the lovely four-star Vila Galé Cumbuco, which looks right on to Cumbuco beach – famous for its spectacular nautical sports, in particular kite and windsurfing.
The main draw for paradise seekers in Cumbuco are its spectacular mountains and lagoons too. Oh yes and its sand dunes – the source of your honeymoon adventure which you’ll find out about in the next post – coming soon!
Until next time x
Stay: Hotel Vila Galé Cumbuco, an all-inclusive resort, is less than an hour’s drive from Praia do Lagoinha and around 30km from Fortaleza. Situated by rolling sand dunes, it rests on the beautiful beach of Cumbuco and is famous for its sand dune rides, watersports and beautiful Banana and Parnamirim lagoons. Prices start from £119 per room per night on an all-inclusive basis. Find more information, including information on your Brazil honeymoon options, visit www.vilagale.com.
For those staying in the city, Hotel Vila Galé Fortaleza is located on the famous Futuro Beach. Prices starts from £50 per room per night on a bed and breakfast basis. Find more information visit www.vilagale.com.
Fly: TAP Portugal flies from London Heathrow to Fortaleza seven times a week. Prices start at £702 return including all taxes and surcharges. For further information, visit www.flytap.com or call 0345 601 0932.
Transfers: For airport transfers and transport between Fortaleza and Cumbuco, try Ernanitur.com.br
Tourist info: Find more info about Brazil on the Tourist Board website, Visitbrasil.com