São Miguel do Gostoso (or simply Gostoso) seems to have chosen a path, and that's good news for Brazil travel. This beach town less than 70 miles north of Natal (see photos) is holding on to the integrity of its fisherman's village roots, the pristine beauty of its beaches, and the power of its winds.
Kitesurfing and windsurfing help create a high season in São Miguel do Gostoso (pop. 9,240), known internationally for the winds that sweep this stretch of coast running parallel to the Equator. But even when it's busy, Gostoso is peaceful: here, you won't find the bate-volta ("there and back") day excursions which fill up some other Northeastern beaches. The local atmosphere brings to mind another São Miguel, near Maceió: São Miguel dos Milagres.
Gostoso means "delicious, delightful". The town is named after a local man with an infectious laugh. Locally, the word "gostoso" is applied to all sorts of leisure options on the town's sunny beaches, such as São José de Touros, Monte Alegre, Ponta do Santo Cristo, Cordeiro, Xepa, Reduto, Maceió, and Marco.
Here are some great attractions and things to do in Gostoso.
- Find a place to stay in one of the attractive local hotels and pousadas.
- Take an Expresso Cabral bus (www.expressocabral.com.br) to Gostoso from Natal (3 1/2 hours, R$14,90).
- Make the transfer from Natal a beach tour on a four-wheel drive vehicle (ask Pousada Casa de Taipa).
- Go tubing on the Punaú River (see Casa de Taipa)
- Go on a tour of Gostoso and neighboring Galinhos from São Paulo, such as Rio Grande do Norte Paradises with Freeway.
- Go kitesurfing and windsurfing - and have lessons - on Ponta do Santo Cristo (high season roughly from September to May).
- Watch the Whale Spout (a water spray formed during the high tide as waves crash against a reef) from the lookout point on Tourinhos.
- Watch the sunset - the Tourinhos lookout point is a privileged spot.
- Take a buggy tour the huge sand dunes in Galinhos. Inquire at your pousada.
- Visit the replica of Marco de Touros (1501), Brazil's oldest colonial marker, on the border of Marco Beach (the original is at Forte dos Reis Magos, Natal).
- Visit the museum at Pousada Casa de Taipa.
- Go horseback riding on the beach. Ask at Pousada Arraial do Marco, for example.
- Visit the fisherman's village and buy handmade lace at Reduto Beach.
- Enjoy the food and the nightlife at Xepa and Centro places such as La Brisa, Jardim do Seridó and Nossa Maloca.
- Have crepes and caipirinhas at Madame Chita, on Maceió.
- Eat codfish at the Don Bacalhau restaurant at Pousada LagoaMar.
- Try the tapiocas at Dona Neta's Cantinho da Tapioca (Xepa)
- Buy handicrafts, eat sushi and go to shows at Área Talismã.
- Keep an eye out for a São Miguel do Gostoso documentary by Eugênio Puppo (Heco Produções), part of a community project.
- Go sightseeing in Touros (19 miles). See Farol do Calcanhar ("Heel Lighthouse"), the largest in South America, the 1798 church and the cannons.
For insider's tips, see the São Miguel do Gostoso Guide.