North Coast (São Paulo)
North Coast is a region in the state of São Paulo. It is formed by the Paraíba Valley (the Paraíba river and the mountainous area around it) and the North Coast itself. The two regions are separated by the Serra do Mar State Park (part of the Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
- Caraguatatuba (Caraguatatuba, Ilhabela, São Sebastião, Ubatuba)
- Cruzeiro (Arapei, Areias, Bananal, Cruzeiro, Queluz, São José do Barreiro, Silveiras)
- Guaratinguetá (Aparecida, Cachoeira Paulista, Cunha, Guaratinguetá, Lorena)
- São José dos Campos (Caçapava, Jacareí, Monteiro Lobato, Paraibuna, São José dos Campos)
- Taubaté (Campos do Jordão, Pindamonhangaba, Santo Antônio do Pinhal, São Bento do Sapucaí, São Luiz do Paraitinga, Taubaté)
- Aparecida - City with that attracts Catholic pilgrims of the entire country to see the "Patroness of Brazil"
- Bananal - Small city with valuable historical heritage and access to the natural beauty of the Serra da Bocaina National Park
- Campos do Jordão - Mountain resort town popular for its cool climate, German architecture and nightlife
- Caraguatatuba - Lively beach city that attracts people from all social classes
- São José do Barreiro - Cozy farm resort hotels, ecotourism and several historical farms and constructions
- São José dos Campos - The Brazilian Aerospace capital, the largest city of the region
- São Luiz do Paraitinga - City with a charming historical center, year-round caipira festivals, and nice nature to explore
- São Sebastião - A beach city, with some of the most beautiful beaches in the state
- Taubaté - Second largest city of the Paraíba valley, in an excellent location to explore the region
The North Coast of São Paulo is located in the far east of the state, close to the border with Rio de Janeiro, and there is hardly another part of the state with so much variety of things to do. Likely, the most popular are the beaches surrounded by the wild rainforest of the Serra do Mar State Park, but the Paraíba valley also offers beautiful XIX century historical towns, fresh-air mountain resort towns, inumerous ecotourism options, and vivid caipira cultural manifestations.
For those who come for study and business, there are also important industrial cities along the Dutra (SP-060) motorway, including the largest city of the region, São José dos Campos, Brazil's aerospace capital and one of the most important technology centers in the country.
- Historical Valley Circuit. The "Historical Valley" is a cluster of small cities of the Paraíba valley that had large importance during the XIX century coffee farming era. Most of the circuit can be visited using the Rodovia dos Tropeiros historical road, used since the XVII century, that links Rodovia Dutra (near Cachoeira Paulista) to Bananal. The road passes through the cities of Silveiras, Areias, São José do Barreiro, Arapeí and Bananal, offering historical constructions, both in the urban and rural area, and beautiful views of the Serra da Bocaina. Outside the Tropeiros road, the circuit includes the cities of Cunha and Queluz.
- Mantiqueira Circuit. This circuit does not offer much in terms of historical constructions, but rather cooler temperatures, beautiful nature and fresh mountain air of the Serra da Mantiqueira. It is composed by the cities of Campos do Jordão, Santo Antônio do Pinhal, São Bento do Sapucaí, Pindamonhangaba, São Francisco Xavier (district of São José dos Campos), Monteiro Lobato and Piquete. Campos de Jordão is the most used base for exploring the circuit, but high accommodation prices, especially in July, may make you consider other cities. Taubaté, although not part of the circuit, may be a convenient base if you also want to explore other parts of the region.
- Religious Circuit. This small circuit is composed by the cities of Aparecida, Cachoeira Paulista and Guaratinguetá, offering historical and cultural attractions related to the Catholic faith.
- The North Coast's beaches are argueably the best of the state. There are hundreds of non-contiguous beaches; a few are urbanized and packed during high season, while others are surrounded by the Serra do Mar State Park and are almost always deserted. Most beaches have strong waves, being great for surfing, but the waters between São Sebastião and Ilhabela are calm and suitable for sailing. Precipitation levels are high (in particular in summer months) so checking the weather forecast a few days in advance is recommended - it is not only a joke that Ubatuba and São Sebastião are nicknamed "Ubachuva" and "São Sebastrovão".
Ecotourism and radical sports
Containing three mountain ranges (Serra do Mar, Serra da Mantiqueira and Serra da Bocaina), countless rivers, and secondary Atlantic rainforest, it is no wonder that radical sports and ecotourism are a strong attraction of the region.
- Hike through the Pedra do Baú in São Bento do Sapucaí or the Pedra do Corcovado in São Luiz do Paraitinga
- Visit the inumerous waterfalls in the region
- Do rafting along the Paraitinga river in São Luiz do Paraitinga
- Paraglide from the top of Pico Agudo in Santo Antônio do Pinhal
- Explore forest trails to find deserted beaches in Ubatuba and Ilhabela. Don't forget to bring a good insect repellent, though!