Lose yourself in the splendid natural inlets
Ubatuba is a friendly little town on the Tropic of Capricorn, 50km northeast of São Sebastião. The main draw waiting to be discovered on an MSC South America cruise are the local beaches, 72 in all, on islands and curling around inlets, and reckoned by some to be among the state’s best.
Ubatuba is centred on Praça 13 de Maio, a couple of blocks from the rodoviária on Rua Conceição. Although there’s nothing wrong with the town’s own Praia de Iperoig, Ubatuba is best used as a base from which to visit some of the numerous other beaches accessible by bus or private boat.
A shore excursion on your MSC South America cruise can also be the opportunity to visit the local branch of the environmental organization – Projeto Tamar –, which has display panels (in English and Portuguese) on their work protecting sea turtles (mainly loggerheads) that graze offshore, and live turtles on view in pools.
Of the beaches, the least developed – and the most attractive – are to the northeast of town, with the furthest, , 46km away on the border with Rio state. One possible point to make for is the Bairro do Picinguaba, a fishing village with a couple of bars and simple restaurants set alongside a very pretty beach and connected to the main road by a 3km-long narrow winding road.
The more popular beaches are to the south of Ubatuba and also easily reached by bus from the town centre, although almost all of them are fringed with hastily built condominiums as well as shopping and entertainment complexes. Enseada, 9km from Ubatuba, is lined with expensive beachfront hotels; nestled in a bay protected from the lively surf, its beach is popular with families.