Praia da Pipa – Pipa Beach – is an absolutely magical little surfer/backpacker town in northeastern Brazil, almost precisely at that point where Brazil sticks furthest out towards Africa. It’s big enough to have great restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels but so small if you look it up on Wikipedia all you get is a Praia da Pipa in Portugal.
In other words, it was heaven. There were three things I loved most about Praia da Pipa. First, we stayed at Toca da Coruja, one of the most beautiful resorts we’ve stayed at in a long time. Not grand five-star luxury exactly, and somewhat surprisingly not even on the beach. But beautiful bungalows with great wrap-around verandas set in gloriously verdant tropical gardens. So nice you really didn’t want to leave.
But leave one must as there are beaches to be experienced. Our hotel had a private little rustic space on the beach maybe 10 minutes away by vehicle and they’d drive you out there in the morning and pick you up in the afternoon. Once I figured out where it was you could also walk out to the beach in maybe 35 minutes and that was nice too. Once you got there it was quiet, remote, and beautiful. The swimming wasn’t so good as the undertow and currents were pretty strong so they urged you not to swim out at all. We could go out maybe waist deep and as the waves came in you could feel pretty certain you didn’t want to be out any further.
On top of that beautiful beach, though, they served lunch out there too. Oh my god did they serve lunch. Three days we were there and three days we had moqueca, this Brazilian fish stew that is simply to die for. We remembered it from a trip to Brazil we did in 2005 but I’d forgotten how good it was. That, a salad, and some great Argentine Pinot Grigio and we were very happy campers.
And then finally the third thing I loved was the town itself. Again, this perfectly sized tourist town but not at all overrun (yet, at least) with package tour groups. Much more of a surfer vibe that, though I’m not a surfer, I love. Lots of little restaurants and little bars that don’t measure tiny drinks all meant for independent travelers. When we were first coming into town our driver pointed out that there are lots of shrimp farms in the area and that if you like shrimp this was the place to be. He wasn’t kidding – tons of shrimp on every menu, all of it good, and distinctly inexpensive.
All in all just about a perfect little stop. And, with two stops in Brazil under our belts, neither of us have been robbed even once on this visit. We’ll see how long we can keep that streak going!