Kids on vacation? Let’s go to the beach. Holiday weekend? On the beach, for sure. A get away in midweek? Only if you go down the Serra. Salty air, good laziness, tasty fish. Walk by the water’s edge, pick shells, take a deep breath, get a tan, chitchat, doze under the tent, make sand castles, take a dive, take a dip, play badminton, search for ships on the horizon, date under the moonlight, sleep with the sounds of the sea, wake up and go out in flip-flops to buy bread, have some coffee and go straight to the beach. That’s it.
What we call Baixada Santista is actually a large region, covering seven cities of the South Coast of São Paulo, among them Santos, São Vicente, Praia Grande and Guarujá.
Santos, the main city in the region, is home to the largest port in Latin America. The main tourist attraction of the city is its seven kilometers of gardened beaches and its air of first world resort.
São Vicente, the first village founded by the Portuguese in South America, is located in the western half of the island of São Vicente; it includes Ilha Porchat and extends to the mainland through the beautiful suspension bridge built in 1914.
The city of Praia Grande around 1950, was only a 23-kilometer-long seafront, and is now a steeming urban agglomeration of people, which consists of eleven beaches, and in vacation periods welcomes around 2 million visitors.
Guarujá, on the island of Santo Amaro, with its casual-chic way, has beautiful urban beaches and other almost wild. When access to the island was done only by ferry, the place was reserved to a privileged few. Today, it is as democratic as the rest of the Baixada.
São Sebastião spans much of the northern coast of São Paulo, with over 100 miles of rugged coastline dotted with beaches and blue sea. In almost everyone of them, there is a center with vacation homes, hotels, hostels, restaurants, bars and small shops.
Those seeking tranquility will find it in Praia da Jureia and in Santiago. In Juqueí, Barra do Saí, Praia da Baleia and Toque-Toque Pequeno, calm sea, good to take the kids to. In Camburi Camburizinho, Maresias and Praia Brava, the latter of strong waves, many young people and surfers. In the small beach of Calhetas, wild and difficult to access, stillness, white sands and beauty.
In the center of São Sebastião, beautiful colonial houses with buildings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – especially the Igreja Matriz, the former Casa da Câmara and Cadeia Pública and the Capela de São Gonçalo – preserve the history of the city, in the same way that, in the outskirts, the Fazenda Santana and the simple caiçara chapels found on various beaches do.
Leaving the Baixada, you’ll get to São Sebastião via BR 101, passing through Guarujá and Bertioga. The single lane road skirts along the coast and in some parts of the mountain, provides a beautiful view of the sea.