Natal, on the northeastern tip of Brazil, is all about the beaches. Whether you choose to stay within the city limits or to explore the outskirts, you can't go wrong.
The state of Rio Grande do Norte is important not only for its jaw-dropping landscapes, but also for its history and culture.
After the arrival of the Portuguese, the region had many French and Dutch settlers - not to mention the important African influence - each leaving their mark on the region's architecture, arts, and in the character of the people. During World War II, state capital Natal was a strategic place for the Allies, with the U.S. building a military base in the city.
Needless to say, hospitality is a strong trait around the city of Natal.
Ponta Negra, the heart of the city
Upon arriving in Natal, you might want to start enjoying the city at Ponta Negra Beach, just 12 kilometers away from the city center, one of the most famous beaches. Here you will find the Careca Hill, a dune standing over 100 meters tall, which is one of the city's most famous landmarks.
This is the tourism center of Natal, with many hotels, restaurants and gift shops. Rent a few chairs and an umbrella and order a drink in one of the many seaside kiosks for a perfect day under the sun.
Dunes, dunes, everywhere
Dunes are part of the local landscape. Besides the Careca Hill, there are many sand "hills" all over the region. The best part about them is that, no matter how many times you go to Natal, you'll never see the same dune twice. Their position is constantly shifting due to the action of winds. So, you see, there's always something new to see in Natal.
You can rent a buggy to ride on the dunes, but always trust an expert to drive - they will ensure you'll have a thrilling experience.
The biggest cashew tree in the world
If you would like to have a taste of the local culture, the Cashew Tree of Pirangi is a must-see. It is known as the largest cashew tree in the world and it is a source of great pride to the locals. The tree covers an area of approximately 8,500 square-meters, with a perimeter of approximately 500 meters, and produces from 70 to the 80 thousand cashews at harvest.
The Reis Magos Fort, built in the 17th century, is another architectural beauty. The star-shaped fortress still preserves ancient cannons, a chapel with a fresh-water well and living quarters.
Natal offers a great experience for those who look for the full-fledged tropical experience embedded with a cosmopolitan culture and history. No matter if you want an isolated beach or one with more infrastructure and tourists, Natal has got it all.