Pristine beaches and an intriguing Portuguese colonial past make Natal special. In this fascinating city spot dolphins, encounter an immense cashew tree and walk across one of Brazil’s largest cable bridges. Drift lazily off the beaches along the eastern coast for spectacular views of forested hills.
Sunbathe on Pirangi Beach, which is divided into two parts by its eponymous river. Go snorkeling to see colorful fish and wander along the pier on the northern section of the bay. Take a short walk northwest to the Pirangi Cashew Tree, which entered the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest. Take a guided tour of the one-tree forest to discover the original trunk among the maze of branches.
The Pirangi sites lie on the edge of the Parnamirim commune on Natal’s southeastern outskirts. See its Barreira do Inferno Launch Center and visit the local market for food and handicrafts.
Feast on the region’s delicacies, which frequently involve shrimp and lobster. Beach towns such as Barra do Cunhaú and Pipa base their economies around shrimp, served in many restaurants overlooking the ocean. Go surfing in the shadow of cliffs at Cotovelo Beach and visit the scenic Baía Formosa and Genipabu Beach.
Natal’s historic center retains a seductive charm. Attend a dance recital or play in the historic air-conditioned Alberto Maranhão Theater, which has a pleasing pastel façade. Visit the nearby Natal City Hall and Teatro Riachuelo.
The city is on the northeastern tip of Brazil in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. Fly to Aeroporto Internacional de Natal and drive east for 18 miles (30 kilometers) to get here. Cross the vast Newton Navarro Bridge, which has excellent views of the star-shaped Fort of Three Kings. Get around the city by bus, taxi or buggy.
Note that Natal is Portuguese for Christmas. It was founded on December 25, 1599. Natal is known across the globe for its pristine sandy havens, excellent seafood and extraordinary cashew tree.