The most famous tourist destination of Rio Grande do Norte, after the capital, Pipa Beach pleases everybody. The place is the most cosmopolitan one of the entire state and attracts people from all over the world. Many of those who visited the beach adopted it as their home and ended up staying.
The truth is that Pipa is one of the districts of the county of Tibau do Sul, which unites eight beaches of incredible beauty, in addition to the Lagoa de Guaraíras. Two of Pipa’s beaches are among the top 25 in Brazil, according to TripAdivisor 2016. As if it wouldn’t be enough beauty, the destination offers options for all types of tourists: the more relaxed once that just want to enjoy the beach, those who come with family, those seeking adventure and sports, those who love nature and also those who like to enjoy the nightlife.
How to get there?
Tibau do Sul is 79 km from Natal, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte. To get there, just follow the BR-101 until the county of Goianinha and then the RN-003. Then just choose the beach you want to go to and follow the signs.
Where to stay?
Pipa has definitely something to offer for all kind of tastes and budgets. You can stay at hostels and inns or decide on luxurious hotels and resorts.
Lodges, hotels and resorts near Praia do Amor are best suited for those who wish to relax. Anyone who wants to get closer to the hustle and bustle is better off staying closer to Rua Principal (the Main Street). But in Pipa, practically everything is done on foot.
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Lagoa de Guaraíras
Despite the name, Lagoa de Guaraíras is actually salt water, but it was not always that way. Until 1924, the lagoon was freshwater and separated from the sea by a strip of land, where there was a fishing village, Tibau, which means in the indigenous language “between two waters.” In that year, a great flood happened and destroyed the village and caused the sea to invade the Lagoon.
It is about 8 km long and 2 km wide. The lagoon has calm water and extensive and lush mangroves, nursery for marine wildlife. The setting is perfect to enjoy the sunset.
You can cross the Lagoon by ferry to Malembá beach with white dunes and an ocean perfect to go kitesurfing.
Tibau do Sul
The beach of Tibau do Sul practically unites with Lagoa de Guaraíras. On the Lagoon side, the beach has calm water, perfect for bathing. A barrier of stones breaks the waves, which maintains the tranquility of the ocean. The stalls arranged along the beach are an invitation to taste the local gastronomy.
Praia do Giz is more deserted, usually frequented by people to spend the day in a Ponta do Pirambú, a restaurant and spa, with swimming pool. But moderate waves attract surfers and swimmers come to visit the natural swimming pools.
Cliffs, dunes and a natural lookout point for Tibau do Sul and Pipa, Cacimbinha is one of the region’s must-see beaches, especially for kite surfers due to strong and constant winds. The place is also ideal for paragliding. It is recommended to avoid bathing, because the water is deep and the waves are stronger. Better to go walking instead.
Madeiro Beach ranked sixth among the 25 best beaches in Brazil on Traveler’s Choice by Tripadvisor in 2016. One of the tourists’ favorites and considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the state, Madeiro Beach has calm water which is great for bathing and also for those who want to start surfing. It is no wonder that there are small surfing schools. On the beach, dolphins always have fun and show off.
The bay looks more like a large pool where you can swim around with dolphins. You can get there only during low tide, from the beach from the city center. There are no stalls, only a few hawkers, so it’s better to take everything with you for drinking or eating. It is common that the water prices go up from the beach near the center to the Dolphin Bay.
It may seem frustrating, but there is actually a beach called Pipa, just like the district. The Centro Beach is the busiest with several options of restaurants and stalls. The water forms natural swimming pools perfect for bathing. At the beach is the statue of São Sebastião, patron of Pipa, which is most of the time in the water.
Love Beach (Praia do Amor)
The name is due to the natural pools in the shape of a heart, but forked tongues say it would be because the beach was frequented by couples who went there to date naked! Hehe The beach is the favorite one among surfers. Here is also located the Chapadão, as the beautiful cliffs are called. From the top of Chapadão you have a spectacular view of the beach. You can go from the Center to the Chapadão by a tourist train. You can also get there by car or on foot.
The Beach of the Mines (Praia das Minas) is separated from Praia do Amor by the Stone of the Moleque, that gave the name to Pipa (= kite), because it has the shape of a barrel that is also called a kite. The beach is a nursery of sea turtles, which is monitored by the TAMAR project. Praia das Minas is usually deserted, but recently it has been frequented by kite surfers.
A village originated from an ancient quilombo (it is an old settlement of escaped African origin slaves), Sibaúma beach is the last one in Tibau do Sul. The river mouth of the Catú river divides the county of Canguaretama. The encounter of the river with the ocean draws a beautiful scenery, perfect to relax there.
Now the beaches have been properly presented, so we should focus on the attractions, which are not few. Contrary to what many people think, Pipa is not a destination for just one weekend. There are options for many days to stay or multiple visits.
Ecological Sanctuary of Pipa (Santuário Ecológico de Pipa)
The beauty of Pipa is completed with an Atlantic Forest reserve. The Ecological Sanctuary of Pipa belongs to the Englishman David Hasset, who bought 80 hectares of native forest to preserve it. Opened to the public since 1991, the non-profit Santuário offers 14 trails that allow visitors to see the forest, including 20 km of beaches and cliffs. The tracks have names of animals, plants or the homeland with elements associated with the place and are divided into difficulty levels of 1 to 5 and with distances of 100 m to 1 km.
The Sanctuary is open to scheduled school visits with accompanied guides, but can also be visited on your own.
In the Pipa Ecological Sanctuary there is also an exhibition of TAMAR Project where you can see samples of turtles’ shells and skeleton. Unlike other project bases, there are no live animals. However, on the Sanctuary it is possible to see turtles of the species Cabeçuda, Verde and Oliva that visit Ponta do Madeiro to feed. Madeiro Beach can be reached by the staircase of the Sanctuary.
The Ecological Sanctuary of Pipa is open daily from 8am to 5pm, with the ticket office open until 4pm. Tickets cost (12/2016) R $ 15 per person, R $ 7 for children from 6 to 11 years. Up to 5-year-olds don’t pay. Pets are not allowed.
Groups can be scheduled by phone: (84) 3201-2007.
A boat ride is undoubtedly the most traditional attraction in Pipa. Boats and motorboats depart from Praia do Centro and take a 1h30 drive from Praia do Amor to Madeiro Beach, with a 30-minute stop for bathing in the Dolphin Bay. It is a guided tour and the boats comply all the safety regulations of the Maritime Services Board.
The tours have to be pre-booked and follow the tide schedule.
Aventureiros – (84) 3246-2470
Mar Azul – (84) 3246-2576
Tree climbing and Zip lining
In Pipa is also the biggest park of tree climbing of the Northeast. The tour is perfect for lovers of ecotourism or for those who travel with children. There are 11 platforms and 10 walkways with various challenges. The high rope circuits are situated between the treetops in the middle of the Mata Atlântica, at a maximum 12 meters from the ground. At the end of the circuit, there is a 300-m zip line with an incredible view of Madeiro Beach.
In addition to the circuits for adults, which can be done by people taller than 1,20m, there are also circuits for children from 3 to 6 years.
The whole course is made with safety equipment and accompanied by monitors. It is necessary to use sneakers.
Pipa Aventura – (84) 3246-2008
When talking about a buggy ride in Rio Grande do Norte, Genipabú is thought of, but from Pipa there are also buggy rides that as well as in the north coast can be with emotion (“com emoção”, riskier ride and more fun) or without emotion (“sem emoção”).
The standard tour departs from Praia do Centro (the driver picks you up at the hotel), passes by Praia do Amor and Chapadão, continues along Praia das Minas and Sibaúma, crosses the Catú River by ferry until you reach Barra de Cunhaú, crosses again this time the Curimataú River until arriving at Baía Formosa and afterwards Sagi. The tour ends at Rio Guajú on the border of Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba. It is 27 km along the waterfront and there the passengers can visit the Fazenda Estrela and Coca-Cola Lagoon (the entrance per car costs R$ 20).
For those who are in Pipa another buggy ride is called Nortinho, which drives into the opposite direction of the standard tour. Departing from the center of Pipa, the buggy passes through the beaches of Madeiro and Cacimbinhas and crosses the Lagoa de Guaraíras. In Malembá a dune stroll is done with or without emotion (see above). The tour goes along the beaches of Barreta and Camurupim, with a break for bathing in the natural pools, to the Arituba Lagoon in Tabatinga. But it can be also extended to the Pirangi cashew tree, including the Dunas of Búzios park.
The tour is payed for a buggy and can be divided by up to 4 people. The values depend on the season. The tours are made by accredited bugueiros (drivers of the buggies) that belong to the Bugueiros Association of Tibau do Sul and Pipa.
Association: (84) 3246-2468 / 98809-4463
One of the most beautiful and different tours offered in Tibau do Sul is the kayak tour operated in Lagoa de Guaraíras.
Ecologically correct, the tour has a duration of 2h30 and departing times depend on the tide schedule, as the departs is always scheduled when high tide is coming and when the low tide is going, which helps a lot when it comes to rowing.
The kayak tour can be done with children older than 4 years, accompanied by a parent in double kayaks, and was also already done accompanied by dogs!
The whole adventure takes part in the Lagoon in calm water with a depth from 2 m to 8 m, depending on the tide, and includes a walk through the mangroves.
The tour can be done with groups of up to 25 people, who can choose between individual or double kayaks. Of course, everyone has to wear a lifejacket. The group is accompanied by two guides, one of them is mostly responsible for taking pictures that can later be bought on CD. There are two rest stops for bathing and relaxing.
The Mangrove ride costs R $ 35 per person and can be booked by phone (84) 9928-1087 with Farmácia, one very nice person of this tour.
These are just some of the many attractions in Pipa that also offers botanical walkways, riding bicycle, quadricycle, troller, horseback riding, paragliding, Pau de Arara (macaw’s perch, flat bed truck transportation) and many others. As I said, you have to visit Pipa for several times and you will still find something new to do. So, enjoy everything in Pipa and find your inner peace. Just make sure you stroll down the main street during the day, visit the shops and at night you enjoy the various bars and restaurants.
Pipa offers something for all tastes!
* This article was originally written in Portuguese by Karla Larissa. Translation by Juliane Boll.