Apr 10, 2009
I’ve already said here that Brazil’s best travel writer is Riq Freire, who also – NOT coincidentally – writes the country’s most popular travel blog, Viaje na Viagem.
Riq is a tireless traveller. Ever since giving up his ultra-successful career in advertising to, among other things, work on his excellent guide of Brazil beaches, Riq has been up and down Brazil’s cost countless times.
So when he wrote a lengthy put-down of Condé Nast Traveler’s list of top beaches in Brazil, I listened carefully. And it seems to her has a point. Or three. Want to know what he said? Here is a summarized translation of his critique:
“At first, I was thrilled that my favourite travel mag announced on its cover the South American chapter of The World’s Best Beaches. I thought, A-ha, finally they’ll pull together the few Brazil tips they’ve published in various editions, and give foreigners wanting to visit Brazil a comprehensive beach guide. Jeri would be in it, Fernando de Noronha too, and maybe even something between Recife and Maceió, plus the better spots in Bahia, like Boipeba, Barra Grande or Itacaré. And then some beaches near Rio, like Búzios or Arraial do Cabo, plus one or two near São Paulo, and, in the south, something in Florianópolis.
The 9 chosen beaches are all clustered around a mere 4 towns. Half of them didn’t make my “100 Best” list. And the where-to-stay list is PATHETIC.
The first on their list is Sibaúma, near Pipa. The only reason anyone would ever stay there is a small and pretentious hotel called Kilombo Villas. But even CNT doesn’t say nice things about the place. I wouldn’t pick the beach because the water is almost always murky, as CNT also points out. So why the heck would it be chosen as one of the 9 best?!
Next: Praia dos Nativos, Trancoso. For me, it’s the lesser of the Trancoso beaches (Rio Verde, Coqueiros and Itapororoca are better). At Praia dos Nativos, water is often murky. The piece says it “is speckled with cafés blasting Bob Marley remixes”. Hahahaha. The beach has three bars: Estrela d'Água, Tostex and a mega-tacky beach bar that caters to tour groups from Porto Seguro. I certainly wouldn’t refer to any of them as a "café" :lol:
Next on the list is Praia do Espelho. They got the beach right, of course, but said that “during low tide (from morning through mid-afternoon), the sea peels back from the shore”. Say what?! LOW TIDE GOES FROM MORNING TO MID AFTERNOON?! CNT has just invented the world’s first on-demand tide!
The only recommended hotel is the Pousada Etnia, in Trancoso – indeed excellent, but why not recmmend an inn on the Espelho beach? Especially considering the Etnia was already mentioned in the Trancoso part? Capping off the embarassment, Silvinha is recommended as the “sole dining establishment”. Holy mother of Jesus!
(Oh, and what's with photo of the Argentinian man dressed-up as a gaucho?).
From Bahia, the piece skips down to the Costa Verde.
First up: Lagoa Azul, on Ilha Grande. Beautiful indeed, but.. not a beach! It’s actually a diving spot. And filled with boats. Any foreigner who’s been to the Caribbean (probably all of CNT’s readers) would find it a disappointment.
Next, Praia do Dentista, in Gipóia. At least CNT doesn’t hide the fact that it turns into a marina in high season. I’d go further and say it’s like a huge aquatic parking lot.
They recommend readers stay at Pousada Pardieiro, in... Paraty! A whole 100 km away! If the writer had interviewed the first man on the street she’d find out that anyone who can afford to boat around the Dentista will be staying at one of the bungalows at Pestana.
In Santa Catarina, they recommend... Siriú. OMG! I spent my teenage years there, my family owns a house near there. Deserted beach, has dunes, etc. But…. If I ever had the chance to tell CNT’s readers which are Brazil’s best beaches, never never never would Siriú be one of them. Paging CNT: ever heard of Guarda do Embaú? Same goes for Ferrugem, the next beach listed. Why not Mole instead?!
The only reason I don’t cancel my subscription is… well… that I don’t have one!
To visit Riq Freire's Viaje na Viagem blog, please click here.