Ubatuba is a municipality on the northern coast of São Paulo state, on the border with the Rio de Janeiro state.
High vs. low season
Ubatuba is devoted to tourism, but the fact that it is relatively far from both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (despite being almost exactly between them) makes it far more a "vacation or holiday" destination than a "weekend destination".
For that reason, during summer vacation (Jan-Feb) and holidays, the city and the more central beaches will be packed, and congestion in the Rio-Santos road may frequently occur. However, during the rest of the year, especially during weekdays, the city will be almost empty, and some beaches far from the city center may even be completely deserted.
The low season is thus great if you want tranquility, but in the other hand, the city center will be far less vivid, and it may be very difficult to find something to eat or drink outside it. Many shops, kiosks and restaurants close during low season.
Ubatuba is humorously referred by Paulistas as "Ubachuva" (chuva means rain in Portuguese) due to the good chance of raining when they get there. In reality, this reputation is likely due to the city being most visited between December and March (the summer), which coincides with the rainy season. Winter months (between June and August) have little rain, but the average temperature goes below 20°C. However, there is usually plenty of sunshine hours year-round.
Ubatuba Tourist Informationphone: +55 12 3833-9123
Rodoviária de São Joséaddress: Avenida Professor Thomáz GalhardoThe bus station has connections to many places around Ubatuba: to Rio de Janeiro at 11:00 and 23:59, to Paraty at 09:50 and 17:00, to Taubaté/Guará at 08:30 and 18:10, to São Paulo at 05:00, 07:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 19:00, to São José dos Campos 3 buses per day.
From specific destinations:
- Buses stop en-route between Rio de Janeiro and Santos. Buses from Rio go at 08:30 and 23:00 (R$100). Direct buses from Paraty are also available, R$15.
- From São Paulo, you can take an intercity bus at Terminal Tietê. Many buses go via São Sebastião (for Ilhabela), R$70-80.
- From the International Airport (GRU) at São Paulo City there is a bus line from Expresso Rodoviário Litoranea. They come to Caraguatatuba, which is a neighboring city, about 43 km from Ubatuba. There are only four departures from the airport to Caraguá: 07:00, 11:00, 16:30, and 20:00. From the airport to Caraguá it takes about 3 hours by bus. The bus ticket is about R$35 per person.
By carBy car, from São Paulo or São José dos Campos, you may take either Tamoios (SP-099) and after Rio-Santos (BR-101) or Osvaldo Cruz (SP-099). Journey from São Paulo to the city center of Ubatuba should take about 3 hours in good traffic conditions.
Ubatuba Airport/Gastão MadeiraUbatuba has an airport near the city center. However, only helicopters, single-engine aircraft and small twin-engined aircraft are able to take off and to land due to the small extension of the runway. It is possible to charter a flight in a few airports such as the Campo de Marte Airport in São Paulo.
Ubatuba has about 100 km of coast, so if you plan to check out the beaches far from the city center, a car is highly recommended. You can rent a car in the city if you are not up to driving 3 hours from São Paulo (which can become much more in holidays). If you are going to Ubatuba in low season, and you are not staying in the city center, a car is also a good idea, since you may find out that where you are staying there is no place to go out to eat, sometimes not even a supermarket.
Public transport is administrated by Verdebus. There are some buses that go to more remote beaches, but they are not very frequent and they may stop not at the beach itself but rather at a nearby village. Be sure to check these things in advance.
Amogn locals, bicycles are a very popular means of transport. However, the beaches of Ubatuba are not contiguous, requiring a cyclist to ride in the sides of the Rio-Santos road to move between them, which is not particularly safe, despite being done by locals. Also, Ubatuba is quite hilly!
Cycling in the city center of Ubatuba, however, is much easier. The area is flat and there is a fair amount of cycleways.
Prumirim Waterfalladdress: Rio-Santos (BR101)It is actually a sequence of waterfalls, surrounded by exhuberant rainforest. Easily accessible by a short trail from the Rio-Santos road; check the signs for "Cachoeira de Prumirim". It is possible to swim, but some care, specially with children, is advised.
Automobile Museumaddress: Rua Tapajós 65 - Itaguá
Caiçara MuseumExhibits items produced by the traditional caiçara communities, coast-dwelling fishing communities.
Projeto Tamaraddress: Praia do ItaguáThe local unit of the country's most important sea turtle conservation project offers the chance to get up close and personal with the sea turtles.
Serra do Mar National Park, Picinguaba UnitContiguous with Serra da Bocaina National Park.
FélixBeach with preserved natural surroundings, despite being next to a condominium. It is popular among surfers, although slightly less than Itamambuca.
GrandeThe most popular beach in town, over 2 km long with a wide sandy area and strong waves that are good for surfing. With younger crowds and many kioks.
ItaguáUbatuba's central beach is not suitable for bathing, but it can be very pleasant place for walking or cycling at morning, or having a snack or a drink during the evening.
Itamambucaaddress: access via a sidestreet at Km 34 of BR-101Famous beach that hosts international surfing competitions. Like Félix, it is at a condominium complex but has preserved natural surroundings. It is also where the Itamambuca river flows into the sea. The river is not suitable for bathing, but you can make a short boat ride there.
LázaroBeach with beautiful surroundings, popular among families due to its calm waters.
PrumirimWonderful beach and a view of the Prumirim island, which is popular among divers and can be accessed by a boat ride. The Prumirim river flows here to the sea.
Saco da Ribeira
ToninhasAn urban beach that does not look urban at all, being surrounded by trees instead of roads and buildings. One can walk from there to Praia Grande by a small trail.
UbatumirimLong, broad and flat beach, perfect for walking, jogging and other sports. One of the few beaches that is easily accessible by car and not inside a suburb or condominium,instead containing some camping facilities.
Vermelha do NorteBeautiful beach with thick and red sands, strong waves indicated for surfing, and a small waterpark for children.
- Trekking or hiking at Ubatuba's dozens of forest trails. Reach various deserted beaches, waterfalls and even some indigenous tribes
- Scuba diving at the islands (Anchieta, Vitória and Prumirim)
- Surfing at Itamambuca, Félix, Vermelha do Norte and other great surfing points
- Climb Corcovado - Not the famous statue-crested peak of Rio de Janeiro, Ubatuba's Corcovado Peak can be reached by a trail from Praia Dura, offering a pretty, albeit Jesus-free, view of the area. The trail is poorly-signposted and hard to follow, however, so it is best to arrange for a guide through the tourist information center (see the Understand section above).
There are many tourist-oriented shops on Rua Guarani and in the north part of R. Leovegildo Dias de Oliveira, in front of the Itaguá beach. The area becomes quite crowded during evenings on high season and holidays, and contains shops, restaurants, bars and kioks in the beach front.
The "actual" commercial center of the city is Av. Thomás Galhardo, where you can find more general products and services. The area is being revitalized, to make it a popular spot among local and tourists.
phone: +55 12 3832-1354address: Rua Guarani 385Pasta and pizza, with more than 60 brands of beer and 100 wines on offer.
phone: +55 12 3832-3272address: Rua Guarani 480 - ItaguáSpecializes in seafood. All dishes are large portions intended for two people.
phone: +55 12 3833-4232address: Av. Tamoios, 64
Areia Summer Housephone: +55 12 3836-2261address: Rodovia Rio Santos, km 101 - Praia Vermelha do Norte
Coyote Barphone: +55 12 3832-4856address: R Coronel Domiciano 74 - Centro
Friends Lounge and ClubGood spot for a caipirinha.
phone: +55 12 3832-6991address: Félix Guisard 11 - PrainhaThis nightclub, in an old Matarazzo family mansion, has three dance floors, six bars, a pizza restaurant and snack bar. National and international DJs spin all types of electronic music for a mostly 20-something crowd.
phone: +55 12 3835-1611address: Rua Praia Grande, 405 - Praia Grande
phone: +55 12 7817-4136address: Avenida principal, 55 - Praia do ItamambucaPousada Twin Hotel in Ubatuba na Praia de Itamambuca
phone: +55 12 3832-2005address: Rua Guaicurus 30A cozy bed and breakfast, rooms with air conditioner, LCD cable TV, solar heated shower, swimming pool and beautiful gardens.
Pousada Taiwanphone: +55 12 3832-6448address: Rua Felix Guisard Filho 60
Ubatuba is generally a safe place. There is no place to be really avoided during the day, at least not a place that a visitor has reason to go. Walking during the night is generally fine, but consider driving or taking a cab if the place where you want to go is more than a few blocks away. During high season and holidays, R. Guarani and R. Leogevildo Dias de Oliveiro are pretty safe during the evening, since there will be many people there.
As you may expect from a rainforest area, mosquitos will be a serious nuisance in most places. Using a good repellent in all but the most urban beaches is advised.