On Top of Old Baldy: Natal, Brazil

Ponto Negra Beach in Natal, Brazil

Ponto Negra Beach in Natal, Brazil, with Bald Hill in the distance.

In just a few weeks, the U.S. men’s soccer team will be playing one of their World Cup 2014 matches in Natal, Brazil. What can visitors expect?

Northern Brazil’s coastal city of Natal and its surrounding beach towns (particularly Pipa) have sprung to prominence as popular getaways for Brazilians and foreigners, alike.

If you happen to be visiting Natal on account of a World Cup match, well, by god — enjoy yourself! There is a good, long stretch of beach — the finest of which is said to be Ponto Negra, where you’ll find “Bald Hill,” a protected sand dune of enormously high proportions.

Ponta Negra is chock full of pousadas and apartment rentals (we’re staying in Yacht Village, in an apartment we found on Airbnb.com). There are a row of restaurants lining the coast, as well as many, many more restaurants, cafes and shops in the town’s center.

Honestly, with its pretty coast and highrise apartment buildings, it’s a like the Florida Panhandle of Brazil. But seedier.

In a country with a whopping 4654 miles of coastline and 2095 beaches, lemme just say, there are better places to visit. It’s a perfectly fine place to crash out for a few nights when you’re traveling through Brazil for 7 weeks.

But if I had a limited amount of time in Brazil and wanted to see someplace with unspoiled beauty or real Brazilian charm, I’d say skip Natal. It’s aight, but that’s about it.

May I suggest … Florianopolis? Or the beaches near Paraty?

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