Family Road Trip Through Southern Brazil

Written on Sunday, April 9, 2023 by

When an Aussie family thinks road trip, Brazil is probably not the first destination that comes to mind.  For my family however that was exactly what we planned for my son’s 1st birthday.  With relatives in Brazil and half my family members keen to fly over and experience the country for the first time,
an epic plan was hatched.

We were to all meet in Sao Paulo then fly to Rio de Janeiro where we would collect two rental cars to fit two sets of grandparents, an aunty and uncle, my brother and sister as well as ourselves.  The plan was then to travel the six hour journey slowly down the coast over a week in order to reach our final destination of Caraguatatuba.  Once there we had use of a family beach house for as long as we liked.

The first few days were spent in Rio.  What a destination.  Of all the places I’ve ever been, I think Rio is probably my favourite city in the world.  It is simply stunning.  Surrounded by lush green mountains including Sugar Loaf, pristine beaches & the world-famous Christ the Redeemer perched on the tallest mountain of them all.  Despite being non-religious, Christ the Redeemer was such a highlight for me.  The sheer height of the statue as well as where it is placed is jaw dropping and it’s almost impossible to picture how this magnificent site was actually built.

From Rio the adventure began.  We had my father driving one car with me being the only passenger who could speak any Portuguese at all, and it is limited!  My partner was driving the other car full of Brazilian Portuguese speakers.  This plan probably could have had a little more thought put into it!  Luckily, despite having to navigate extreme traffic out of the city while driving on the wrong side of the road, we didn’t have too many mishaps.

First stop was the beautiful and cultural town of Paraty.  While the beach here is small, it’s so pretty and the town itself is gorgeous, filled with houses with brightly painted front doors.  The whole place is quite a hippy, arty destination and a great chill out spot.  Like an old fishing village.

The next day we headed to the little known Trindade, a tiny little beach village known for its fishing and surfing.  Here there is not much to do but laze on the sand watching the surfers, drinking the famous caipirinha and eating fresh seafood straight off the boat and cooked on the beach in the bar huts that are dotted along the sand.  I was very sad to leave this gorgeous spot.

From here we headed on down the coast to Ubatuba, again known for its surf but this time for the huge waves that hit some of the wildest beaches in Brazil.  This area has around 100 beaches to choose from,  with tiny coves to long stretches of Gold Coast like beach, there is something for everyone.

Half the group made their base here for the night, staying with family, while the younger ones headed out on a ferry across to the famous Ilha Bella (Beautiful Island).  Whilst gorgeous and such a fun thing to do with a group of friends for the evening I would perhaps have renamed the place Mosquito Island.
I have never experienced mozzies like it anywhere in the world!  Lucky our local friends were very prepared with every mosquito killing device you could think of, so we came away relatively unscathed after a night of BBQ, drinks and music.

Our final destination was Caraguatatuba.  This is my favourite beach in Brazil.  It reminds me of Australia with long stretches of white sand as far as the eye can see.  It’s never too busy here, always relaxing and the locals are so lovely and friendly.  As with most beaches in Brazil, there are bar huts dotted around the place so you can take your pick of where to get your fresh seafood lunch cooked for you each day to accompany the always-in-hand caipirinha.  We ended up here for another week just completely chilling out, hanging with the locals, spending time with family and getting a fantastic suntan!

While the idea of doing a multi-generation road trip in Brazil might sound a bit bizarre at first, this is one of the best holidays I’ve ever had.  Travelling with locals makes such a difference to a trip.  The places we visited I would never have known about, even as a travel agent.  We were off the beaten track and it was so worth it.


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