The Winds of Jericoacoara & Atin

Two former fishing villages on the northern Brazilian coast are redefining themselves. Jericoacoara and Atins were both small, forgotten villages set along a sand dune covered coastline. Consistent, prevailing trade-winds have made these spots very popular with wind-sport enthusiasts, changing them from sleepy fishing villages to popular beach towns.

The coastline in this part of Brazil runs almost parallel to the equator allowing the trade-winds to blow straight across. Winds are typically 20–28 km/h (11–15 knots) almost everyday from July to January, making the area ideal for windsurfing and kiteboarding.


As we approached Jericoacoara we knew we were in for something special. The sandy road we were traveling on entered a long tunnel, cut out of the surrounding dense bushes. The roof and windows of our SUV kept hitting branches as our driver navigated our way on the tight sandy road.  

Jericoacoara is not an easy name for us to pronounce. Thankfully, it is commonly called Jeri. Most of the land in this part of the coast is covered in sand and Jeri is no different. This former fishing village has recently become a popular tourist destination. Some people describe it as a hippie town, but we didn’t see it that way. We found it to be a full-fledged tourist beach town. It seemed that their entire economy now relies on tourism. Not only do they have sandy beaches, but the roads and sidewalks are also made of sand. Block after sandy block in this little town are lined with restaurants, pubs and small shops selling beachwear and tourist knickknacks. It is quite a cute town, but was much busier than we expected.

Jeri was the first place we tried açaí. It is a small grape sized berry that grows on açaí palm trees. In Brazil you can find it everywhere and is usually sold as a gelato-style frozen treat. In northern Brazil it is also used in a sauce served with meat. Don’t tell anyone from Brazil, but we didn’t fall in love with açaí. We found it rather flavourless, especially compared to other fruits that grow here like mangos and pineapples.

The town has only had electricity since 1998, but you would never know that today. There are no streetlights in town, but the businesses have more than made up for it and the area really comes alive at night. Many of the restaurants and bars have colourful light displays, live bands or cultural dance shows.

Jericoacoara Beach is bordered by dozens of hotels and bars complete with lounge chairs and umbrellas set up on the sand. Fishing boats on the shore were resting on the ocean bottom during low tide. Even though the sand isn’t the nicest on this beach the atmosphere makes it a nice place to enjoy an afternoon beer or caipirinha.

Just a little ways away from the lounge chairs, the water is crowded with colourful windsurfers riding on top of the water. We watched as a few very skilled surfers had fun jumping over the rough waves.

At the western edge of Jericoacoara Beach large, white sand dunes take over the landscape. They are formed by the constant winds in a similar way that Lençóis Maranhenses was formed (see our post here). These dunes begin at the beach and continue to surround the outer edge of town. Dune buggies take tourists for rides on the dunes, but after Lençóis Maranhenses, we had become sand dune snobs and weren’t interested in a dune buggy ride.

At the end of rainy season there are a few lagoons between the dunes that are very popular for people looking for an alternative to the main beach.

From the main beach heading east along the water’s edge, the terrain soon becomes very rocky. At low tide you can walk over the rugged rocks and coral that have become exposed. We followed the shore all the way to the most famous landmark in Jeri, Pedra Furada (Pieced Rock), 3 km away. The large rock with a hole in the middle is a favourite selfie spot for tourists. It’s a nice feature, but not as amazing as the marketing material will have you believe.

Note – When the tide is in you can only access Pedra Furada on a trail from town. It involves hiking up and over a small pass between two hills. Many people took a horse and buggy to the top instead of walking, but it’s really not that far.

Hill of Serrote is a small hill above Pedra Furada with a hiking trail that takes you to its top. The ground on the hill isn’t sandy but it is very dry and covered in cacti. We almost didn’t see a burrowing owl because it was camouflaged in the brown grass.

From the top of the hill we were treated to wonderful panoramic views of the rocky shore and the vast ocean. This higher vantage point allowed us to see how the sand dunes added and an interesting background to the cute town.

Because most of Brazil’s coast faces east there are very few places where you can see the sunset behind the Atlantic Ocean. Jeri’s location is one that allows this view. From the top of Hill of Serrote we enjoyed a wonderful scene as the sun set over the ocean.

The small beach town is located in Jericoacoara National Park in the state of Ceará. Since the streets are made of sand and the town is inside the national park, only approved vehicles are allowed on the streets of Jeri. Most of those are 4WDs or all-terrain vehicles, but surprisingly horse and buggies are among those approved. Even though the town is very small and you can walk everywhere we were surprised that the streets were always buzzing with ATVs and horse buggies. It seemed as though Brazilians don’t like to walk.

Note – There is no fee to enter the national park but there is a R$5 fee per day to stay in town. You have to pay this fee at the entrance. Your receipt will list the days it is valid and will be checked when you leave the town. It’s a good idea to take a picture of your receipt in case it is lost.

Getting to Jeri

If you don’t have your own car, getting to Jeri can be a little tricky. Daily buses travel between the large city of Fortaleza and Jijoca. From Jijoca you need to take a 4WD taxi for the final 27 km of sandy roads to Jeri. These taxis leave from the Jijoca bus stop and their arrivals and departures match up with bus schedules. Getting to Jeri from Barreirinhas is more difficult. Buses leave Barreirinhas daily for the small city of Parnaiba where it possible to catch another bus to Jijoca and then a 4WD to Jeri, but you would have to overnight in Parnaiba. We took a private transfer from Barreirinhas to Jericoacoara. It was R$400 ($80 USD) each and took 7 hours, but it was a much better alternative for us. Another way is to reach Jeri is to take a bus or car from Sao Luis to Jijoca and then take the 4WD. If you do drive, you will have to park your car at the park entrance as private vehicles are not allowed in town.

Where to stay and eat in Jeri

There is no shortage of hotels and guesthouses to chose from in Jeri. There is something for every budget. The town is very small and there really isn’t a bad neighbourhood, but obviously the closer you are to the beach, the more expensive the hotels. Finding a restaurant won’t be a problem either as there are many options to eat and even a couple of grocery stores.


The secluded village of Atins is located at the estuary of Preguiças River as it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. It began as a fishing village, but recently has been taken over by kiteboarders and is slowly being transformed into a kiteboarding destination.

Atins Beach is a long tract of fine sand along the side of Preguiças River. A narrow sandbar on the other side of the river helps to create a shallow lagoon with flat water which is perfect for kiteboarders. When we were there the waters were filled with kiteboarders taking advantage of the consistent trade-winds and flat water of the Preguiças River.

Unlike Jeri which is a developed beach resort town, Atins in the state of Maranhão, is still in its infancy stages. The village consists of fishermen homes, guesthouses and a few small hotels spread out on the sandy ground. There aren’t really roads but rather tracts of sand meaning that you can’t drive just any car here. Only 4WD vehicles, ATVs and horse and buggies can navigate the deep sand.

Set along the sandy river beach are a few tourist restaurants and bars. Many of the full-day tours of Lençóis Maranhenses stop in Atins for lunch. The rest of the visitors are wind-sport athletes, but word of this quiet place is growing so that may soon change. If you don’t kiteboard there’s not a lot else to do in Atins except enjoy the quiet atmosphere on the sandy river beach.

How to get to Atins

Access to this village is not straight forward. There are no actual roads to reach the village. You can take a private 4WD taxi or boat from Barreirinhas, 30 km away. Some people take one of the day tours offered in Barreirinhas that includes a stop in Atins. That way they can see some of the beautiful vistas of Lençóis Maranhenses on their way to Atins.

Where to stay and eat in Atins

There are a few restaurants along the beach and in the village but prices are quite high. Be prepared to pay for the quaint surroundings. A few guesthouses and hotels are scattered around the sandy village, many can be found on-line.

Important Tips for Jeri and Atins

  • Prevailing winds occur from July to January making these are the best months for windsurfing and kiteboarding. It is also the dry season. Rainy season begins in January and continues into June. This would be a poor time to visit either town. 
  • There are no banks in either Jeri or Atins so make sure you have enough money before you arrive. Some businesses will accept credit cards and payment apps, but they may not always be working. Also there is no reliable internet in either town so make sure any important information regarding your hotel etc. have been downloaded to your devices before you arrive.
  • The unfortunate part of the prevailing winds and sandy roads is that, even in town, you will be constantly covered in sand. We were cleaning sand out of our clothes, hair, eyes and ears for days.
  • Even though this area is ready for tourists, most of their tourists are Brazilian so don’t expect much English. We found Google Lens very helpful in reading the Portuguese menus.

To read about our other adventures in Brazil click here.

Coming Next – Brazil’s City Beaches – Fortaleza & Natal


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