Perched almost at the easternmost tip of Brazil, Baia Formosa’s very name—“beautiful bay” in Portuguese—gives visitors an idea of its tropical charms even before arrival. Located a mere 60 miles south of Natal, the perfect distance for an exhilarating day trip via dune buggy, Baia Formosa hosts 16 miles of pristine beaches set at the base of undulating, verdant foothills and continuously bathed by the glorious turquoise sea.
Fishing boats share the waves with sailboats and surfboards as seabirds swoop down to share some of the fishermen’s catch. Meanwhile, behind the beaches lies the 2,000-hectare Reserva Mata Estrela, the largest swath of protected Atlantic forest in the state, home to a mind-boggling array of animal- and plant-life endemic to South America, such as the marmoset monkey and the very brazilwood trees that gave the country its name, as well as the reddish-brown waters of Lagoa Araraquara—aka Coca-Cola Lagoon—said to have medicinal properties.
More than a few visitors who only intended to make a day trip of visiting Baia Formosa end up staying longer at one of the numerous small oceanfront inns and residential-style pousadas in town, occupying themselves with long hours of swimming, sunbathing, and surfing at beaches such as Praia do Farol (Lighthouse Beach) and Praia do Sagi, just to name two.
Despite a population of only 8,600 inhabitants, Baia Formosa keeps the party rocking year round, with colorful folkloric festivals such as the boisterous Festas Juninas (the entire month of June), a small but popular Carnival celebration (February/March) that attracts crowds from neighboring locales, and an entertaining Reveillon bash (New Year’s Eve) steeped in tradition, with celebrants dressing in white and making offerings to Afro-Brazilian sea goddess Iemanjã for good luck in the coming year.
Though average temperatures hover in the upper-80s and lower-90s Fahrenheit, rainfall amounts can differ drastically throughout the year, with Southern Hemisphere fall and winter (February through August) bringing intense daily showers. Plan your trip accordingly.