Subject: Re: Brazil - Natal or Pipa
Hi Marianne -

You are planning a trip to what I consider one of the most beautiful places in Brazil - the beaches are just great. We were there several years ago and enjoyed it tremendously.

Praia da Pipa (Pipas Beach) is in a rounded inlet from the ocean. There was a small restaurant at road level where you ordered lunch for a definite hour and then went down to the beach - more than 270 steps - going back up was the trouble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cant remember the name of the restaurant so I cant find out whether it is still there.

We were out swimming when several dolphins showed up. They kept their distance but were actually very close to us. My youngest son (he was a teen-ager at the time) went wild - wanting to ride one Flipper style! The dolphins are still a big attraction.

The town used to be a fishermens vila so it was tranquility itself. Then the surfing crowd discovered it and on week- ends it gets pretty hectic. There are lots of restaurants, bars and shops. There are no big hotels - accomodations are more on the inn type of lodging. We stayed in Natal and went to Pipa for a day.

Natal has very good hotels - some very good ones between the coastal avenue and the beach. The best hotels have 4 stars but some 2 stars are quite good. The one we stayed in, the rooms opened right to the beach. Wonderful for an early morning swim or actually at night. The water is always at a most agreable temperature. Natal has lots of restaurants, bars, shops, shopping center.

Ponta Preta is part of Natal - on the south side. This is the part of the city with the greatest concentration of inns, restaurants and bars and with the most hectic night- life.

There is one un-missable place - Genipabu - a few kilometers to the north of Natal. Magnificent sand dunes which continually change shape. There are buggies for rent - with drivers. Wonderful experience. Actually one has to have a driver because it is quite easy to get lost.

This whole area around Natal is most enjoyable if one has a car. Great beaches are all along the coast. Without a car it is difficult to get around and you would lose a lot of great sights. We live in So Paulo so we went by air and picked up a rented car at the airport. Actually I have done that all along the north and north-eastern Brazilian coast line. It is really the best way.

With a car you could stay at one of the good hotels in Natal (in a calmer area) and drive to Pipa or Ponta Preta whenever you felt like joining the fun!

If you give me an idea of the level of hotel you prefer I can check for suggestions.

You are going to have a wonderful time.

Regards, Susana So Paulo, Brazil