Conde, less than 15 miles from João Pessoa, is a popular getaway among the residents of the Paraíba capital and an up-and-coming destination for international tourists.
The town with 21,400 inhabitants is best known for Tambaba, one of Brazil's top nude beaches, but its other attractions have garnered attention in the last few years and recent initiatives on the part of the local administration should make it even more appealing to travelers the world over.
In January 2012, the city announced a project aiming at improving local pousadas. Read more about it in Where to Stay in Conde.
With warm temperatures year round, Conde beaches have a type of beauty that's characteristic of a certain stretch of the Brazil coast where sedimentary cliffs in intriguing hues drop steeply towards the sand.
Conde has its origins in the Jacoca indigenous village in the 16th century and later in a 1636 settlement. At the time the Dutch had taken over the Brazilian Northeast. The count in the city's name was Maurice of Nassau, then province governor.
The town's proximity to João Pessoa makes it easy to explore the capital's attractions, such as the beaches, nightlife, and preserved historic center, from Conde hotels. In the same way, visiting visit Conde for the day or the weekend from João Pessoa is one of the best things to do during a stay in the capital.
Though still not quite as explored as other destinations in the Northeast, Conde is far from being undiscovered by real estate giants. Reserva Garaú (watch the YouTube video), a project for Tambaba which encompasses four resorts, three residential communities, a business area and an area for the construction of pousadas, has raised concerns among naturists. According to reports published in Folha da Paraiba, SONATA, the Tambaba Naturist Association, wants to make sure the naturist area is preserved.
Paraíba receives many charter flights from Europe and the area is already popular with international vacation homeowners, for example Swedes. The Conde Coast is a regular presence at TUR, the Swedish International Travel & Tourism Trade Fair, in Gothemburg.
Pristine, coconut-tree-lined Gramame, the first beach on the Conde Coast coming south from João Pessoa, is also the estuary of the eponymous river. Barra de Gramame, where the fluvial waters meet the ocean, is a delightful spot from which upstream boat rides allow visitors to explore a mangrove ecosystem.
- Praia do Amor
A two-meter wide stone arch is the most striking feature of Praia do Amor, south of Gramame. The arch is said to have been used in wedding rites by the Caetés, the area's original indigenous inhabitants, and walking through the arch hand in hand has become a lucky tradition for today's couples. The beach with cliffs and a village where you can eat fresh fish can be considered the northern end of Jacumã.
Town life buzz is here: Jacumã a good place to find a drugstore, stock up on groceries, take the bus to João Pessoa or sip on a drink at one of the neighborhood bars. Little shops sell the local handicraft, for example basketry made from vines. Tourists can also enjoy capoeira and folk dance performances (read more below). But the beach also has quieter stretches.
The name means "warm pool" in tupi-guarani. The water temperature is but one of the wonders of Carapibus (pronounced ca-ra-pi-BOOS), lined with colorful cliffs and coconut groves and with a rich coral reef ecosystem which is revealed during the low tide, forming natural pools. The beach has several pousadas and one resort (Mussulo).
The all-around appeal of Tabatinga owes itself to a diversity of natural features: cliffs; coconut groves; white sands and a clay spring (tabatinga is a tupi-guarani term for "white clay"); spots with rougher waves and the peaceful waters of a maceió, or pool formed at the meeting of a river with the ocean; and coral reefs. There are several pousadas in the area.
Coqueirinho ("Little Coconut Tree") differs from other Conde Coast beaches in that here the coconut groves grow at the very edge of the beach. Clear waters, beautiful rock formations and some cliffs, a clay and a water spring add to the beauty and charms of this beach - see it from the Dedo de Deus ("God's Finger") lookout point. The right end of the beach is good for surfing. There are kiosks with umbrellas and tables.
On the southern end of the Conde Coast, Tambaba is one of the most beautiful and organized nude beaches in Brazil. But part of it is open to non-naturists: beach bars, located by the general parking area, and restaurants are available.
- Barra do Graú
South of Tambaba and still even less explored than the other beaches of this part of the Brazilian coast, Barra do Graú is a wildly beautiful deserted beach with coconut trees, white sands and soft slopes. The Graú River divides it from Praia Bela. The beach can be reached by a dirt road.
Other Conde Attractions:
Natural attractions include mangroves which can be visited, for example, from Barra do Gramame, and what is said to be the world's oldest cashew tree, near Tambaba (the world's largest cashew tree is in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte).
Conde is a great place for adventure travel and physically active tourists in general. Kitesurfing, surfing and bodyboarding, hiking through the falésias and voçorocas (sedimentary cliffs and ravines), horseback riding, buggy and quad rides can all be arranged through the local hotels and pousadas or with receptive tour agencies such as Luck Receptivo or Tambaba Tur.
An exciting local brand of cachaça tourism is taking shape in the Conde region. According to ASPECA (the Paraíba Association of Engenhos), Paraíba is the Northeast region's leader in the production of cachaça de alambique (also known as cachaça brejeira), or handcrafted cachaça made in micro distilleries. From Conde, it's possible to visit nearby engenhos, or sugarcane and cachaça-producing farms, where travelers can sample and purchase the drink.
Capoeira and folk dances are attractions worth keeping an eye out for. In 2011, the town's capoeira angola group, Capoeira Angola Berimbau Viola, commemorated its 15th anniversary.
From Gurují and Ipiranga, local quilombola communities (with strong African roots), come groups performing dances such as coco de roda and ciranda.
Also, the city's Cultural Nucleus has the Jacoca group performing typical Northeast dances such as xote (pronounced SHO-tee) and baião. A good place to catch up with such performances is Beco da Boemia, in Jacumã. This street lined with shops hosts the city's summer events (usually with performances every Friday and Saturday night until Carnival).
Keep up with capoeira and folk dance updates on the Angola Berimbau Viola blog (in Portuguese and English).
Where to Eat:
Several pousadas, such as Gurugy on Jacumã Beach, have restaurants. But the best restaurant in town to sample the local culinary, including siri mole (a type of crab said to be an aphrodisiac), caught in the Sanhauá River, filé de peixe agulha (Atlantic needlefish filet) and other authentic Brazilian dishes such as moqueca, is Canyon de Coqueirinho by chef Ana Luiza Mendonça, on Coqueirinho Beach.
You can linger on wicker chaises longues placed under kiosks. Kids can enjoy the playground. Get to the restaurant, named after an 800-meter canyon at the beach, by a dirt road or helicopter - there's an improvised helipad at the mouth of the canyon.
How to Get to Conde from João Pessoa:
There are buses to Jacumã from the Varadouro bus station in João Pessoa (55-83-3221-9611). Drivers can take PB-008 along the coast.
Improvements on PB-008 were announced by the Paraíba state government in December 2011, when Governor Ricardo Coutinho authorized the construction of a R$4 million-plus loop highway in Jacumã. According to the press release, PB-008 has about 1,000 vehicles in circulation on weekdays and 5,000 vehicles on weekends and holidays.
How to Get to Conde from Recife:
Conde is 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) from Recife; drivers take BR-101, a federal road, and then PB-018, a two-lane state road, to Jacumã. See photos of PB-018 on Flickr by Egberto Araújo, posted in 2010.
Conditions on PB-018 require attention. As of this writing, potholes are a problem. In October 2011, the superintendent of the state's Road Department (DER-PB) sent local news portal WSCOM Online a reply to a citizen's open letter complaining about PB-018 conditions. In the letter, the superintendent declared a "public commitment" to improving the road's situation, possibly before the end of summer 2012.
For more on Brazil highways:
- Driving in Brazil
- Download Brazil Road Maps
- Check Brazil Federal Road Conditions
- Brazil Traffic Signs
Best Time to Go to Conde:
Paraiba is warm year round, with average temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius even in the winter. The rainiest season in the João Pessoa area is roughly from April to July. Learn more about the local climate with Brazil weather maps.