Christened by the French, built by the Portuguese. A little chic, a strong colonial splendor. São Luís, oh, São Luís. Rich tiles, colorful houses, memories of past times. Small gracious streets, Casa de Nhozinho and Casa das Tulhas, bacuri and cupuaçu. Powerful tides, fantastic stories, embroidery, lace and liqueurs. The national language loved and preserved. Details, embellishments and colors that fill the eyes and delight the heart.

PROFILE OF THE CITY

In the Island of Upaon-Acu, between the bays of São Marcos and São José de Ribamar, is situated in one of the most beautiful Brazilian capitals. San Luis, founded by the French coming from Britain with a mission to deploy an arm of France in the equatorial region, passed through the hands of the Dutch before the Portuguese rule got firm hold of it.

In the mid-eighteenth century, the interruption of the American cotton industry gave opportunity to the production of Maranhão, which then met the strong demand from England. This intensified the movement of the port of São Luìs and the Praça do Comércio, built in 1780, became the center of economic and cultural effervescence of the city. With the U.S. recovery, export of cotton gave way to the textile industry, which, despite the efforts, failed to keep São Luís as an important economic center. The golden age, however, left indelible imprints, such as the appreciation for education, culture and art, and made São Luís a unique city.

SURROUNDINGS

The Preguiças River. The name says it all, for it is why one comes to this place of pure tranquility. Leaving Barreirinhas – where ideally you should arrive by plane to enjoy the beautiful aerial views of the region – it is along the Preguiças that you’ll reach the Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses, a vast territory made of sand, dunes and lagoons, with 70 km of untouched beaches stretching inland for 50 km .

The first impression is that it is a great desert. But soon your attention is drawn to freshwater ponds, of green and blue, nestled in the dunes. These pools are formed during the rainy season – from January to July – and they remain throughout the year and invite you for a refreshing swim.

But there are other ways besides the Preguiças. It is possible, for example, to go by jeep, challenging the dunes up to the Azul and Bonita lagoons. Or to rent an ATV to go to Caburé. And, the option for adventurers: to put the backpack with food and water on the back and then hike the trails.

Barreirinhas is the main point of support, but in towns like Atins, Caburé and Mandacarú there are lodges and simple restaurants that perfectly wait on the most naturalists.

What an adventure!