Live and eat like a local, and get off the tourist track with our Natal hit list from the host and producer of SBS travel show, This is Brazil!.
By
Fernanda de Paula, Shelley Hepworth

12 May 2014 - 2:52 PM  UPDATED 25 Jun 2015 - 1:46 PM

1. Jump on a dune buggy

Brazilians associate Natal with the image of a dune buggy and it’s no wonder: only 15 minutes from the city centre there is the huge Dunes Park, a striking landscape sitting on almost 12 square kilometres. For a desert experience right next to the ocean, you can jump on one of the many camels for hire or have an adrenaline-filled adventure on a dune buggy.  

 

2. Fulfil your Tarzan fantasy

If you’d rather sail through the air, than along the ground head to Genipabu Beach north of the city. Among the many activities here is a zip line which will send you hurtling down the sand dunes before depositing you into the ocean.

 

3. Eat fresh from the sea

Natal was a sleepy fishing village until the 1980s when it woke up to the tourism boom. Ponta Negra is the most famous beach in town, and if you arrive early in the morning you’ll witness the fisherman returning with their catch on traditional wooden boats called ‘jangadas’ as they have done for generations. Eateries on the sand prepare fresh seafood and the mouth-watering local crab stew is a must-try.

 

4. Discover the nutty side of Natal

Pirangi beach is 22km from Natal and here you’ll find the largest fruit tree on the planet. Due to a genetic mutation the cashew tree has grown larger than a football pitch, producing as many as 80 thousand fruit per year. There is a lookout where you can see the enormous green area in full and a market that sells all sorts of cashew products, including a liquor that is meant to be as effective as Viagra!

 

5. Go on an island adventure

Technically it belongs to the state of Pernambuco, but the island paradise of Fernando de Noronha lies closer to the city of Natal. Catch a weekday flight from Natal with the domestic airline, Azul. Explore the island and nature reserve via mini-moke (watch out for the giant potholes) and take a dip at one of the island’s numerous beaches where, if you’re lucky, you may spot an enormous sea turtle.

 

6. Where to eat

O Bule (Av. Doutor Severino Lopes da Silva, 118 - Lagoa do Bonfim, Nisia Floresta)

 

This is Brazil! airs Fridays at 7.30pm on SBS ONE.