Around 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Santarém  lies Alter do Chão, a beach resort that is one of the most stunning natural sites in the Amazon region . Its claim to fame is gleamingly white river beaches. Easily accessible from Santarém by bus (on one of the region’s very few paved roads), the beach fills up on weekends. If you want to stay awhile (and you will), there are several pousadas. The best time to come is during the dry season (June to December) when the river recedes—by up to 10 meters (33 feet)—and leaves the beaches more exposed.
If you’re around during the second week in September, don’t miss the Festa do Cairé. One of the most important traditional festivals in Pará , the festa dates back to the earliest contact between Jesuit missionaries and local Indians. Both indigenous and Catholic elements commingle in the ornate religious pageantry that, in true Brazilian style, is tempered with singing, dancing, and merrymaking.
There is frequent bus service from Santarém  to Alter do Chão, especially on weekends, when buses leave almost hourly from Praça Tiradentes. The trip takes around an hour.