Algodoal Island - North Brazil
January 1, 1970
by Marina Lara
Brazil is such a big and diverse country that no matter how much you travel around you can always be surprised. I have a personal goal of getting to know every Brazilian state, one by one, though I have no idea when I will finish that. I’m definitely doing it slowly, but it has been absolutely amazing, so far.
The North of Brazil is mostly known for the Amazon rainforest. The region is incredible indeed, but not only because of the forest. Brazil’s North is rich in different vegetation and has a beautiful coastal region, which I hadn’t been to yet. As I was travelling in Belém, the capital of Pará and the second most important city of the region, I decided that I would visit some beaches further north.
As a matter of fact, this is not only a beautiful beach, it’s an idyllic island. Depending on when you get there, you will find no tourists at all and you will have the feeling that you are a guest in some kind of paradise. That was my feeling once I arrived. I stayed in a simple and charming Inn/Camping Spot called Pousada ABC. To camp there off-season you pay only 10 reais. 15 with breakfast. 70 reais for a room with air conditioning and 50 in a room with a fan. They also have the option for you to sleep in a hammock (20 if you are using one of theirs, 15 if you bring your own). The people who take care of the place (three women called Graci, Marise and Maíra) were super nice to me and invited me to have dinner with them as soon I arrived. After some hours had passed, I already knew all about their life and family. We had great conversations and I went to the beach with them for a quick night dive. As a brazilian and portuguese native speaker, it was pretty easy to communicate, but Graci, the owner, speaks english and swedish as well.
I woke up to the sound of the ocean and several different birds. The breakfast at the camping site is simple: Bread, eggs and cake with coffee and fresh juice. I spent the day walking around the village’s beaches all the way to Praia da Princesa. Praia da Princesa is the favourite beach around there, but even so, there was almost no one there. It was monday, the middle of May, the day after Mother’s Day. On weekends and brazilian holiday seasons (especially during July, New Year’s Eve and Carnival) things will probably be quite different – there are supposed to be thousands of people in the island during these dates.
The tides here are very important and should be observed. Sometimes during the day, when the tide is high, you can’t walk from a beach to the other, though there are small boats that can help with the transportation. Another typical means of transportation are the “charretes”, that can bring you to different sides of the island and around the village (though they are super small and really you’d better walk – also, i don’t like the idea of horses being used for transportation, getting visibly hurt on the hot sand).
One of the best moments visiting the island was when Graci invited me to go with them to see where they catch fish everyday. They have a kind of fish trap throughout the island that traps the fish during the high tide. It’s a traditional and quite sustainable way of fishing that’s used in some places around Brazil. They introduced me to a man called Gudengo, who has one of these traps and shares the fish he catches everyday for free. He is always singing and loves to meet tourists. I’d definitely recommend to try the visit. It’s beautiful and you may get to see some different fish and sea animals. They even let me and another backpacker take some fish and cook in the camping/inn kitchen.
There are many rocks around the beaches so it’s nice to have some flip flops with you. I actually hurt my feet a bit trying to walk barefoot to check the fishing traps, for example. Even though you are at the ocean, you are definitely close to many rivers and amazon influences. There happen to be some mangrove swamps around, which look very beautiful. There are also many mosquitoes, due to tropical weather. It rains often, but this is usually quick and refreshing.
The village has a hippie vibe and people call it the reggae island, since there is a lot of reggae music around bars and parties during the holidays. I say it is a charming, small village, with very friendly people and colourful drawings. It has a small population and cars are prohibited on the island, so there’s no pavement. Eletric energy was introduced only in 2005. Internet access is still difficult – but it’s getting better. There’s an open Wi-Fi network for the locals to use. It works only in the first street parallel to the beach, which easy to recognize: there are always people sitting around this street staring at their phones (it’s a bit funny). Also, Graci intends to soon be able to provide wi-fi for her guests.
To get to Algodoal Island, you first go on a 3-and-a-half hour long bus ride from Belém to Maruda. The bus leaves everyday at 06:00, 09:00, 12:30, 14:30 and 16:30. The bus fare is R$ 23,60. Then, from Maruda, you need to take a 40 minute boat trip to the island (R$ 8,00).
Marudá – Algodoal
Monday to Thursday 09:00 / 13:30 / 15:30 / 17:30
Friday 09:00 / 13:30 / 15:30 / 17:30 / 20:30
Saturday and Sunday 09:00 / 10:30 / 12:30 / 14:30 / 17:00
Monday to Thursday 06:00 / 08:00 / 10:30 / 13:30
Friday 06:00 / 08:00 / 10:30 / 13:30 / 15:00
Saturday and Sunday 06:00 / 08:00 / 10:30 / 13:30 / 15:00 / 17:00
It was a very inspiring place to be. I hope other travellers find their way to this beautiful island to enjoy a slower-paced life.