There's No Place Like Jeri

With 8000 kilometers of coastline in Brazil, it is a good guess that there is a beach to suit everyone’s taste. If you are seeking a laid back getaway, you have only to look as far as Jericoacoara in the State of Ceara. Located 300 kilometers north of Fortaleza, locals know this paradise simply as “Jeri.”

Brilliant white sand dunes ring a small beachfront village amid emerald green foliage; all of which face a deep blue ocean. Jericoacoara loosely translates to English as “alligator that lies in the sun.” Up until 20 years ago, this rural coastline was rarely visited as it had limited land access and no electricity. Vehicle transportation from Fortaleza through the deep sand often meant spending precious vacation hours digging out private off-road vehicles.

This all began to change for “Jeri-Brazil” around 1984 when the federal government declared the lands around the village to be an environmental protection area. These new regulations controlled local growth in order to protect this Brazilian jewel. In 2002 a national park was formed along this stretch of coastline, further protecting it from over-development and consumer exploitation.

The Washington Post newspaper in the United States named this beach as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world back in 1994. This informal designation brought tourist from every corner of the globe. Many believe that its ranking among the top ten most perfect beaches still holds. The Brazilian government has been able to partner tourism and ecological protection to the advantage of traveler and resident alike.

For many visitors, the hours spent exploring the magnificent Sahara-like dunes in rented buggies are hard to beat. One of the favorite adventures is to buggy out to Blue Lagoon (Lagoa Azul) Tatajuba Beach or Lagoa do Paraiso (Paradise Lagoon).  For the windsurfing enthusiast, the beaches off Jeri are perfect, especially from July to November when daytime temperatures are warm and the winds blow steadily.  If kitesurfing is your passion, 12 kilometers from the village you will find Prea Beach.

Don’t overlook the village itself.  First, take a sunset hike up the appropriately named, Sunset Dune. This is one of the few places in all of Brazil where you can watch the sun sink into the sea. Jeri’s five main sandy streets contain a surprisingly lively nightlife consisting of a variety of bars and restaurants.  Once the village closes for the night, darkness enfolds this oasis, as no street lights are permitted. Only the stars are there to guide you to your accommodations.

Today, one can travel from Fortaleza to Jeri by off -road vehicle, bus or helicopter.  While it’s not the adventure it once was to visit Jericoacoara, the drive to this pristine coastline will be no less interesting and well worth your time. Don’t be surprised if you come for a month and stay for a lifetime.