Now, I am trusting all of you to keep this as a little secret between the two of us. It is not publicised or advertised, but there is quite a treat for the unsuspecting near the northern Brazilian city of Natal.
The beach in Pipa would be worth a visit in its own right. It has all the ingredients — a perfect crescent white-sand beach fringed with coconut trees looking out onto a clear blue sea. Rising immediately behind the trees is a spectacular cliff of reddened sandstone. This means that the only access to the beach is through a lengthy set of stairs, but you will be well rewarded, because you will get a chance to swim with dolphins.
This does not require catching a boat out to a secluded cove, donning a wetsuit to brace deep ocean temperatures, or paying exorbitant fees for a tour boat, this experience of a lifetime is free and easy. The dolphins visit every couple of hours and come very close to the shore. They are very friendly and playful and will often swim right up to you.
There is a swanky hotel, The Hotel Village Naturexa Beach Resort, shown above, perched on the top of the cliff. They have 33 luxuriously appointed villas surrounding a central pool. The hotel will also organise a variety of activities including marine safaris, horse-riding and buggy trips across the sand dunes.
The hotel also has a bar down on the beach. The helpful staff will fix you a caipiroska while you are escaping the ever-present sun, and when the dolphins are making their way into the bay, they will let you know, so you have time to finish your drink and get back into the sea.
The town of Pipa itself is quite lively, with a number of bars, restaurants, shops, a range of alternative accommodation options, and a small crafts market to keep you amused after the sun goes down. Bars such as Papillon and Point 69 have live music every night, and there are a wide range of restaurants to sample local Brazilian delicacies, such as baked fish, steamed crab and feijoada — a traditional casserole of beans, meat, sausage and vegetables. Don’t forget to catch the sunset at the Argentinean owned Casa Babylon, which serves up giant empanadas and old Rolling Stones tracks.
This is a beautiful beach, but be careful lying under those coconut trees though, falling coconuts are the number one cause of tourist deaths in Brazil! However, when that’s your biggest worry, you know you are in the right place.