Calm and crystalline waters that are home to manatees, a sensuously drawn coast lined with coconut trees, and a town with centuries-old landmarks are some of the attractions which lure visitors to Porto de Pedras, Alagoas.
With a population of 8,419, Porto de Pedras is less than 80 miles northeast of Maceió. However, a commitment to preservation at the local and state levels has so far kept Porto de Pedras and the surrounding coast free from the invasive tours which often disturb the peace of small destinations near other top coastal cities in Brazil.
Porto de Pedras is one of the seven main destinations on the Coral Coast of Alagoas State. This portion of the shore, which besides Porto de Pedras includes Paripueira, Barra de Santo Antônio, Passo de Camaragibe, São Miguel dos Milagres, Japaratinga and Maragogi, owes its name to its coral reef, one of the world's largest. This part of the state is also known as the Ecological Route.
Walking leisurely to the shallow ocean pools which form in the low tide is one of the ways to enjoy this seaside Eden. One of the best places to do that is Praia do Patacho, one of the beaches comprised in the Porto de Pedras territory and widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. With few and lovely places to stay - Pousada Patacho, owned by a Frenchman and a Condé Nast Johansens listing, and Praia do Patacho houses, owned by a British DJ and his Brazilian wife, the beach is a far cry - or, one might say, a far whisper - from Maceió's bubbling summer scene; the nearest restaurants and shops are in the center of Porto de Pedras, about a 20-minute walk away.
The town also holds constructions dating back to the 17th century, when the region was invaded by the Dutch, aided by local landowner Domingos Fernandes Calabar, and taken back by the Portuguese colonizers.
Historical churches - Nossa Senhora da Piedade, Nossa Senhora da Glória, and São Gonçalo, in the village of Tatuamunha; the public jail; some well-preserved homes help tell the story of Porto das Pedras. Another, newer historical attraction is the Porto das Pedras lighthouse, built in 1940 and from which you can view as far as neighboring Japaratinga.
The Manguaba River, which separates Japaratinga from Porto de Pedras, is a great option for leisure, with boat rides that take visitors around mangroves and to river beaches. The Tatuamunha River, further south, is another top attraction, with boat rides to a manatee sanctuary.
Other nearby beaches include beautiful Praia do Toque, in São Miguel dos Milagres, where Pousada do Toque, opened in 2000, has set the tone for the low-impact profile of accommodations on the Ecological Route.
How to Get to Porto de Pedras:
By car. From Maceió, take AL 101 north and then AL 435 to Barra de Camaragibe. From Barra de Camaragibe, follow the signs to Porto de Pedras.