Ceara Holiday Planning Guide
Traditionally one of Brazil's poorest regions, the state of Ceara has developed into a major tourist destination over the last two decades largely because of its extensive coastline spanning nearly 600 km (370 mi). Idyllic palm-fringed beaches provide picturesque settings for active Ceara vacations and especially appeal to adrenaline-seeking kitesurfers and windsurfers. Travelers taking time to tour State of Ceara farther inland discover a land of fertile valleys known for their production of tropical fruits and narrow rivers flanked by dense vegetation. State capital Fortaleza remains one of the best places to start your Ceara itinerary; it's known for its colonial architecture and modern nightlife.
Places to Visit in Ceara
Cities in CearaFortaleza
: Combine a number of wide, sunny beaches with a tour of the colonial buildings, traditional market, and Dutch fort in the city center. The state capital proves a family-friendly stop on your Ceara vacation, and buzzes with nightlife after dark.Aquiraz
: Explore urban beaches and pristine nature in the hinterland of this popular coastal city, a former capital featuring plenty of colonial-era architecture, water parks, and the best lace market in the region.Caucaia
: Base yourself in Caucaia for part of your Ceara itinerary, with easy access to Fortaleza plus pristine beaches offering plenty of swimming and windsurfing.Juazeiro do Norte
: Explore the Brazilian wilderness from the second-largest city in the state; perched in the elevated subregion, it features many cultural attractions and pilgrimage sites. Guaramiranga
: An escape in the interior highlands from the busy capital, Guaramiranga provides lush green hills with waterfalls at some 900 m (2,952 ft) above the sea level, the highest point in the state and closest to the equator.
Popular Ceara Tourist AttractionsFlat VG Fun na Praia do Futuro em Fortaleza - CE
: This extremely popular urban beach attracts crowds of locals with clean waters, swimming, surfing, and just hanging out.Beach Park
: This enormous water park attracts both families and thrill-seekers, offering a range of rides, saunas, cabins, eco-trails, and a number of eateries.Praia de Cumbuco
: A number of small lagoons offer a tranquil spot backed by sand dunes, making this small beach a popular retreat from the nearby capital and a great area for kitesurfing and windsurfing.Morro Branco
: Gaze upon the spectacular scene of huge dunes and reddish cliffs against a calm sea at this child-friendly beach, also popular among kitesurfers.Lagoa do Paraiso
: Include some pristine nature in your Ceara trip with a dip in this freshwater lagoon. Bask in the warm kid-friendly waters, enjoy the view, or rent a bike or a buggy to explore the surroundings.Iracema Beach
: This popular urban beach attracts bohemians with its restaurants, bars, and nightclubs along a boardwalk, providing sweeping views of the city and the sea.Duna do Por do Sol
: Windsurfers and sailing enthusiasts flock to this small fishing village, where you can rent a dune buggy to explore the sand formation of Jericoara National Park in the background.Dragao do Mar Centro de Arte e Cultura
: Enrich your Ceara vacation at this multipurpose center featuring a cinema, art galleries, a planetarium, and an amphitheater with regular live performances of music and dance.Jericoacoara Beach
: Protected within a national park, this pristine beach offers scenic cliffs, golden sand, and turquoise lagoons, attracting nature-lovers and surfers from all over the world to enjoy the rustic fishing village.Pedra Furada
: Explore ancient human rock shelters and rock art--which pushes the theory of settlement of the southern hemisphere several thousand years back--and enjoy a surfer's paradise beach backed by sand dunes.
Planning a Ceara Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Ceara with Kids
Families come to Ceara for its magnet beaches, and plenty of them very much cater to children. Start your family's Ceara vacation in Fortaleza
, with its urban beaches, Waikiki-style beachfront, many colorful stands, and activities interesting for kids. You'll also have plenty of cultural attractions allowing you to explore Ceara's rich history and industrial heritage, plus a large water park, an adventure center with ziplines, and public gardens perfect for picnicking.
For a change of pace, the coastal retreat of Jericoacoara
lies surrounded by a pristine national park area. Here, kids can get active with all sorts of water sports or simply bathe in the warm, calm lagoons. There are plenty of easy nature walks and you can rent a beach buggy to explore the sand dunes in the background.
Things to Do in Ceara with Kids
Apart from the usual activities for kids at beaches scattered along the long coastline, Ceara offers water parks and one of the world's longest slides at Beach Park
. Adventure tourism with sand dune buggies are a popular family activity and several inland resorts offer ziplines. Beach sports like soccer and volleyball complement swimming and snorkeling in a number of family-oriented beaches and resorts.
The state capital Fortaleza has a variety of kid-friendly activities. Soccer fans can always see a match at Castelao stadium, while stargazers will want to check out the planetarium at Dragao do Mar Centro de Arte e Cultura
, a multipurpose education and entertainment center with a number activities for kids of all ages. To learn more about the area, visit Museu do Ceará
, and then get out into the natural attractions of Ceara at Jericoacoara Beach
, where you can dip in warm freshwater lagoons nearby.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Ceara
Brazilians in general extend a warm welcome to children, and kids will feel at ease in a number of public spaces including restaurants, bars, and even some late-night events. Traveling with kids in Brazil may help you meet the locals as they will socialize through the children.
That said, do take a few things into consideration as you prepare for your Ceara holiday. First, look for accommodations that cater to families, with options such as kids' activities, all-inclusive meals, and family entertainment. If you are the only parent bringing your child, it is a good idea to prepare a notarized letter from both parents authorizing the travel.
Finally, never underestimate the strength of the Brazilian sun: even in rainy season you should apply sunscreen liberally throughout the day.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Ceara
Cuisine of Ceara
Ceara's cuisine features dishes typical of the northeast of Brazil, such as fried macaxeira (cassava) or yuca fries, with the addition of abundant fish and seafood varieties. Spice up your trip with Ceara fish stew, a popular dish served throughout the coastal region with white fish steaks, coconut milk, cabbage, potatoes, carrot, and green peppers. Ceara is the largest exporter of lobsters in Brazil--try the crustacean prepared with a mixture of Brazilian spices. As in other parts of the country, menus feature feijoada, a stew of beans with beef or pork, and, for meat lovers, churrasco, a typical Brazilian barbecue.
Shopping in Ceara
Ceara offers a range of shopping experiences: modern malls in central Fortaleza, huge Sunday open-air fairs in the capital's Messejana neighborhood, large lace markets in Aquiraz
, and more. The largest covered market in the northeast, Mercado Central
offers a variety of leather goods, lace, and embroidery, along with T-shirts, souvenirs, and jewelry--all spread across 500 stalls under one roof and at discount prices. If you like beachfront street shopping, visit Beira Mar Avenue
--a long and pleasant coastal promenade lined with shops and bazaars displaying colorful handicrafts and souvenirs, such as leatherwear and colorful beachwear, and locally made items from bamboo, vines, and carnauba palm fronds. Cravinho cachaca, the white spirit made from sugarcane, is also a popular souvenir for vacationers in Ceara.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Ceara
Interesting Facts About Ceara
● The word ceará in Portuguese literally means "sings the jandaia," a popular mid-size green, orange, and yellow parrot, although it is believed that the original meaning derives from the native Tupi Guaraní word for turquoise waters.
● Ceara boasts the earliest evidence of human settlement in the southern hemisphere.
● In 1884, Ceara was the first Brazilian state to abolish slavery.
● The official motto of the state is "The Land of Light" (Terra da Luz).
Holidays & Festivals in Ceara
Although not as famous as in other northeastern cities, the carnival in Fortaleza at the end of July brings samba and a unique style of the maracatu national dance, known as maracatu cearense. The celebration, called "Fortal," attracts some 1.5 million festival-goers; men don flamboyant dresses and paint their faces black to highlight their African origin.
If your trip to Ceara falls in June, the June Bonfire Festival (Festa Juninas) features a mixture of costumed parades, bonfires, and fireworks with dances. The Regata da Jangadas also draws visitors with its race of traditional triangular fishing boats.
For those interested in major pilgrimages, Juazeiro do Norte
runs the Romaria religious festival, attracting some 500,000 people to pay tribute to the colossal statue of Padre Cicero, an early 20th-century priest and politician who was canonized by the Brazilian Apostolic Catholic Church.
Useful Ceara Travel Tips
Climate of Ceara
Ceara lies in the transition zone between the sunny, hot, and humid coast tempered by the cool trade winds; the semi-arid elevated sertão regions; and the humid Amazon jungle with two seasons. The rains in Ceara begin sometime between January and March and last until June, while the dry season runs from July to December. The climate remains hot almost all year with temperatures varying from 22-36 C (72-97 F). In semi-arid regions, the temperature gets very hot and dry, surpassing 22 C (72 F) but seldom above 30 C (86 F); nights, however, bring cool air. At higher altitudes in places like Guaramiranga
, the temperatures are cooler and vary from 14-18 C (57-64 F). The average annual temperature in Fortaleza, the South American destination closest to Europe, is 26.3 C (79.3 F) with little seasonal variation, and precipitation averages 1,448 mm.
You can take your Ceara vacation any time of year--just remember to apply sunscreen no matter what the weather's doing, as moderate temperatures and rain can disguise a scorching sun. If coming during the wet season, carry an umbrella with you.
Transportation in Ceara
With its long chain of popular beaches along 600 km (370 mi) of coast, Ceara provides a good transportation network interlaced with 13 highways. Roads are well paved and signposted, and car rentals widely available throughout the coastal area. The state also provides good bus connections along the main highway, with the majority of lines concentrating in the capital. Naturally, buses to smaller towns tend to be infrequent, especially at night.
Fortaleza has a privately owned metro, currently operating two lines across 43 km (27.6 mi). If you are planning to explore beaches during your tour of Ceara, you should consider driving a 4WD vehicle. Some parts of the coast offer beach-hopping with a rented buggy, such as the stretch from Fortaleza to Natal.