Paraty, a charming seaside town in the state of Rio de Jainero, is known for its preserved cobblestone streets and intact colonial architecture dating back to the eighteenth century. While Paraty is appealing to travelers for being a Brazilian National Historic Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also captured us by its enjoyable (& relatively cheap) boat tours offered, relaxing places to lodge, and an array of delicious seafood and authentic Brazilian restaurants to choose from all while being surrounded by off-shore islands, white sand beaches, and dense jungle.
A great way to explore Paraty and feel the essence of its history is by walking the cobbled streets. We loved exploring the streets at night when all the restaurants overflowed outside where people sat around filling their bellies with fresh seafood whilst listening to live Brazilian music. A way to take some amazing pictures of the old colonial town without many people around is to get at sunrise. Ryan and Kelli (Ryan's sister) would wake up before all of us to watch the sunrise and stroll the city's streets.
If you’re looking for an in-depth history of Paraty, an insider’s view of the colonial architecture, and an opportunity to photograph this charming city all while being accompanied by an experienced guide, you need to book with Paraty City Sightseeing Tour.
RELAXING (& RELATIVELY CHEAP) BOAT TOURS
We had heard you could take boats out to the surrounding islands and to different swimming spots, so we decided to book a day's adventure. We didn't plan ahead or make reservations. We started walking toward the loading docks around 9am and negotiated with different boat drivers for a price our group felt confident about. For less than $60 US dollars, Ryan, Diane and Jerry (Ryan's parents), Kelli (his sister), and I got to enjoy a private boat for over four hours. We had such a blast just laying in the sun on the boat, visiting different swim spots, snorkeling, and lounging around that we decided to go the next day, too!
Tip: While we had the boat to ourself, most of the boat drivers visit the same surrounding islands so there will be other boats docked at whichever island you are visiting. You will have other tourists around, but we also had fun getting to know other travelers as we docked at the same spots for 15-30 minutes each.
TROPICAL LANDSCAPE SURROUNDING THE TOWN
One of the most stunning parts of this town was the landscape surrounding Paraty. It was so incredible to be able to see the lush jungle as you had your back to the ocean. The next minute, you could turn around and there you are were staring out into the crystal clear blue ocean water with scattered islands jutting out of the water. It's a sight I'll never forget. Our (Ryan, Kelli, and my) favorite activity was to wake up at sunrise, go down to the pier at the edge of town, and soak up peaceful morning time before anyone else was awake.
Since we were in Paraty for such a short time, we weren't able to visit all the surrounding beaches, but you will find that Trinidade Beach is only about 30 kilometers from Paraty. Here, you will find one of the most popular beaches in the area. While it usually is on the more crowded side, you can find a fun atmosphere with beachside bars serving fresh seafood, caipirinhas (local Brazilian alcohol) and chill reggae music vibes.
If you're looking for a more intimate beach experience and don't mind trekking to get there, you might want to check out Sono Beach. While you can take a boat to get here, people will often hike (only about one hour) to get to this isolated beach. While tourists enjoy this spot due to its beautiful white sand beaches and gorgeous backdrops, it rarely gets as crowded here.
FRESH SEAFOOD + LOCAL CUISINE
We were so excited to try all the fresh seafood here. The local cuisine did not disappoint. If you're looking for a fine dining experience, check out Restaurante Banana de Terra. This restaurant is unique in its style of highlighting local ingredients. If you couldn’t tell by the name of the restaurant, bananas and plantains are a popular dish. Don’t skip on the fresh seafood entrees either, as these are a crowd pleaser.
Ryan, Kelli, and I really enjoyed Maria Fulo Bistro Natural, which had a super cozy and quaint atmosphere while serving up some really delicious vegetarian and health-conscious options.
Don't forget to stop in Manue for coffee, quick snack or an acai bowl. The small acai bowl that we ordered was plenty for all three of us!
If you're looking for a way to book lodging around Paraty, make sure to check our account of Trill Travel for the best hotels in the area.