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I recently had the chance to cross the globe and pay a visit to the small, windswept wonderland of Canoa Quebrada. Located to the southeast of Fortaleza on Brazil’s northeast coast, Canoa Quebrada is one of the most sought-after beach destinations in the state of Ceará.
This gorgeous resort town is marked by the signature red cliffs that line picturesque white sand beaches. The name, Canoa Quebrada means broken canoe. The town gained its name in 1650 when a Portuguese ship ran aground at the Ponta Grossa Rocks and actually broke. When the locals were searching for the wreckage, they called out “broken canoe.”
The town was once an isolated fishing village and became a haven for hippies in the 1970s. While traces of the days of the fisherman and hippies remain, today this slice of paradise’s narrow, paved streets are bustling with tourists.
While Canoa Quebrada is a small town, the locals will make you feel at home and there are plenty of things to do for those looking for an adventure, to those looking to sip cocktails with your feet in the sand!
Dune Buggy Tour
One of the best ways to start your vacation in Canoa Quebrada is to take a dune buggy tour. The area is home to massive white sand dunes and lagoons which are a must-see on your visit. The high-speed buggy ride racing over the steep dunes is sure to give you some thrills and the views are spectacular!
Keep your eyes open for jangada, the traditional fishing rafts adorned with a sail. Most tours will also take you to the Ponta Grossa, where the town was christened with it’s peculiar name.
Canoa Quebrada Beach
After you’ve had your fill of thrills, take some time to relax on Canoa Quebrada Beach, the area’s crown jewel. The soft, white sand beaches and turquoise waters rival some of the world’s top-ranked beaches.
The waters of the Atlantic are surprisingly calm and warm and the craggy red cliffs lend a unique and colorful effect to this unique respite. Grab a caipirinha and some cocada from one of the barracas, or small bars or restaurants, along the beach for the full experience!
Zip Lining in the Sand Dunes
One of the coolest things to do in Canoa Quebrada is ziplining. Their unique and adrenaline-inducing ziplines start at the top of the dunes.
Zooming down over the sand, 2 of the 3 lines end in the small lakes in the depression of the dunes. This zipline experience is unique—I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where you can zipline through an actual oasis!
Spend the Day at Chega Mais Beach
One of the best places to hang out for the day is Chega Mais Beach. Chega Mais is more like a beach club and has exceptional amenities and service. The beach here is a bit more seclude and quieter than Canoa Quebrada Beach. There is also a pool with a spectacular beach view!
After going for a swim grab a drink at the poolside barraca. Then, head to the restaurant for some delicious fresh and locally caught seafood.
Go Bar Hopping Down Broadway Street
You can’t visit Canoa Quebrada without experiencing “La noche en la Broadway!” Canoa Quebrada’s main street’s official name is Rua Dragão do Mar. The street was named in honor of a descendant of the town who led a strike that ultimately led to the end of the slave trade in Ceará.
Today the street is lined with internet cafes, T-shirt shops, a tattoo parlor, and a number of bars and restaurants. While fun to walk along during the day, the real fun on Broadway happens after 10pm and lasts until the sun peeks over the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean along the seemingly endless Canoa Quebrada Beach. Sway to the rhythm of forró, reggae, rock, and axé.
See the Street Art
The town’s unique hippy history had made it a beacon for artists. Many painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, and film makers were drawn to Canoa Quebrada between the 1960s and 1980s. You can see the artistic and cultural influence in the street art that’s collected and displayed in the city center.
Take a Photo at the Canoa Quebrada Symbol
Along Canoa Quebrada Beach, you’ll find the Lue e Estrela, or the star and moon, sculpted into the side of the red cliffs. The symbol of Canoa Quebrada was created by Brazilian sculptor Elisiário Chico. In the 1960’s the area was popular with film makers.
So while filming a member of the film crew who was a Moroccan Muslim asked Allah to forgive them because of the many parties between the artists and the film crew and asked Elisario Chico, a local artist to carve onto the red sand stone the symbol of his religion a half moon and a star that later became teh symbol of the area.
Where to Stay in Canoa Quebrada
On my recent visit stayed at the Long Beach Hotel. Situated just 350 meters from Canoa Quebrada Beach and 600 meters from Broadway Street, this hotel is in a prime location.
The rooms consist of bungalows and apartments and are set among the hotels beautiful gardens giving the hotel the feel of an intimate oasis. The hotel also features two very nice pools with an outstanding view and friendly staff.
How to Get to Canoa Quebrada
This amazing beach town is off the beaten path, and at one time was considered a remote destination. But, luckily for me and you, reaching Canoa Quebrada is actually quite easy!
If you’re traveling from Europe, there are direct flights from Lisbon, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris to Fortaleza’s Pinto Martins Airport, the closest major airport, which is 180 km away.
If you’re coming from the USA, there are direct flights from Orlando and Miami.
Once you reach Fortaleza, if you are traveling by car, take the CE-040 up to Aracati. Take the BR-304 around Arcati and up to the Canoa Quebrada junction.
You can also travel from Fortaleza by bus. The São Benedito bus company has several buses a day that travel directly from the central Fortaleza bus station (Rodoviária) to the beginning of Broadway Street.
I was a guest of the State of Ceará, Brazil but all opinions are my own.