The two locations of this experience - Lençóis Maranhenses, Maranhão, and the Delta of Parnaíba, on the border between the states of Maranhão and Piauí - promote direct contact with the lush nature of the region.
The former has fine white sand dunes. A true desert that, between June and September, becomes filled with ponds of crystal-clear waters, with colors varying between blue and emerald green.
The latter is the only open sea delta in the Americas. With it, there are only two other in the world: the Nile River’s, in Egypt, and the Mekong River’s, in Vietnam. It has over 70 islands, many of them accessible, in about 2,700 km² of area.
The good thing is that these two destinations that are so dissimilar, two worlds within the same country, can be visited on a same trip. So, enjoy!
The best starting point to explore the Lençóis Maranhenses is the city of Barreirinhas, located 250 km from São Luís, the capital of Maranhão. From there, organized tours depart towards the main points of interest of the destination, all carried out in jeeps or trucks with 4 x 4 traction, the only way to conquer the dunes, creeks and obstacles of the routes which lead to the ponds.
On the first day, the chosen destination is Lagoa Bonita. The tour begins with the crossing of the Preguiças river, which separates Barreirinhas from the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, where most of the attractions of the place are located. Cars and tourists embark together. Be sure to observe the lovely landscape of this river which is so full of life, as you prepare for the discovery of a magical place.
After crossing the river, the vehicle moves forward through sand roads and streams and parks next to the pond. After a short walk, you will spot it and, certainly, surrender to the evidences: it is hard not to be mesmerized when the scenery composed of sand and ponds unfolds before your eyes.
On the way back to Barreirinhas, recover your energies with a nice grilled fish or a dish made with seafood, some of the local specialties.
Today is the day to visit Lagoa Azul. However, before that, it is worth it to stop at the Mandacaru Lighthouse, also known as Preguiças Lighthouse, located besides the river of the same name. From the top of the 160 steps which lead to the attraction, it is possible to have a beautiful 360 degrees view of the location and see, on one side, the river, and on the other, the sea.
Then, go to Lagoa Azul, which is as stunning as Lagoa Bonita. A 35-minute jeep ride takes you to this paradise. Opt for going in the afternoon, to take advantage of the light of the end of the day and the magical Sunset.
Time to head to the city of Parnaíba, after which the Delta is named. Opt for going in the morning, because even if the distance is not so long, 200 km, the trip usually takes more than 4 hours.
When you arrive, go to Porto das Barcas, one of the main touristic attractions of the city, located next to the bridge connecting the mainland to Ilha Grande de Santa Isabel. From there, some of the tours through the Delta depart (but most depart from Porto dos Tatus). With narrow streets and old buildings, the location has various bars and restaurants. It's a great place to eat, rest and take a walk, before heading to the next destination.
Praia da Pedra do Sal, on Ilha Grande de Santa Isabel, is a river beach and one of the most pleasant attractions of the region. Its 8 km of beach are mostly frequented by locals and fishermen. The calm waters are suitable for swimming and practicing water sports, such as kitesurfing.
Today is the day of mixing fresh and salt water! The first tour is through Lagoa do Portinho, which remained silted up for a long time, but is now full again. The recovery occurred thanks to the initiative of local inhabitants, who requested a license to the Environment State Department for creating and clearing the channels that irrigate it.
Praia do Coqueiro, the second destination, is an old fishing village located in the municipality of Luís Correia, neighbor to Parnaíba. The beach has calm waters, which are an invite for swimming, and a barrier of reefs, which is revealed at low tide. It is perfect to rest for a few hours. At the end of the day, when hunger comes, try one of the many local restaurants that serve fresh and delicious fish.