The pristine condition of the beaches and rainforest surrounding Ubatuba is due to their preservation within the coastal boundaries of the Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar. The park’s coastal headquarters are located at the Núcleo Picinguaba (BR-101 Km 11, Praia da Fazenda, tel. 12/3832-9011, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily), 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Ubatuba.
If you want to explore the park—with its myriad cascades, rivers, hummingbirds, and rare orchids—you need to get in touch with the visitors center. The staff can provide you with maps as well as guides that can lead you along the hiking trails that cut through the rainforest. Another option is to contract a guide with the Associação de Monitores de Ubatuba (tel. 12/9142-3692).
Another compelling feature of Ubatuba’s coastline is its many offshore islands. One of the largest, Ilha Anchieta, is a short boat ride away from the central beaches of Itaguá and Saco da Ribeira. Before becoming a natural park, the island housed a jail where political prisoners whiled away their days during the Vargas years (the ruins are still visible). The island is crisscrossed by trails leading to various deserted beaches, and its clear waters offer great diving.
Mykonos Turismo (Rua Flamenguinha 17, Praia Saco da Ribeira, tel. 12/3842-0329, www.mykonos.com.br) organizes excursions to Anchieta (with stops at beaches along the way) and to Ilha do Prumirim, north of Ubatuba, for around R$25 per person. Omnimare (Rua Guaicurus 30, Itaguá, tel. 12/3832-2005, www.omnimare.com.br) offers diving courses as well as six-hour diving excursions to Anchieta and other islands (R$120–170).
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition